Will There Be a Coalition in Germany?


After incredibly long negotiations, mutual accusations, and the publication of anti-ratings, the three potential partners of a ruling coalition for Germany have finally come to an agreement, as was reported by the press agency DPA. The conservative CDU-CSU bloc and the SPD have agreed on a 28-page document, which is to become the foundation for a new coalition agreement. The social democrats approved the paper the last.

Has the coalition been formed?

This is still a preliminary agreement. The social democrat congress of the 21st of January is supposed to formally approve the agreement; only then will it be clear of the endless negotiations have ended. 

We note, that on the 24th of September 2017 parliamentary elections were held in Germany, after which the CDU-CSU bloc (which took 32,9% of the votes and 35% of the seats in the Bundestag) did not manage to form a government with the ‘greens’ and free democrats. The SDP declared a willingness to negotiate sometime after. There hasn't been a confirmed government in the country for almost 4 months.

As media outlets tell us, the following issues were discussed in the preliminary discussions:

-The migration issue. According to information from the DPA, nearly all sides want a limit to the stream of migrants to Germany: no more than 180-200 thousand (which the CDU politicians insisted on). The sides also agreed on the necessity to lower the number of migrants travelling to Germany to unite with their families (to around a 1000 persons a month).

- Finances and taxes.

Merkel’s ratings

The popularity of Angela Merkel is swiftly falling. According to a YouGov poll, almost half of the inhabitants of Germany (47%) said that the chancellor should leave her post before her mandate officially ends in 2021. Only 36% wanted Merkel to at least sit out her term. At the same time, according to the result of a poll by Kantar Emnid, Merkel ended up in the trio of leaders with a political anti-rating with a result of 53% unhappy respondents.

Unexpectedly and on literally the same day on which the coalition agreed on the document, Merkel had to deal with a new disaster: claims from the influential World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU). They called on the chancellor to quickly stop construction on the ‘Nordstream 2’ gas pipeline.

Problems for the coalition

The current political situation looks like this. Western experts emphasise, that the unsuccessful negotiations are evidence of disillusionment among the German voters with the ‘centrist policies’ of the government. In other words, tensions around the endless stream of migrants have hit a peak in the last few years. The indisputable strengthening of the position of the right-wing ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ party, which has won 94 places in parliament, has added to the piquancy of the situation. There have not yet been similar precedents in post-war Germany. Several experts hold a sceptical opinion about the success of the coming elections on the 21st of January. After all, the official confirmation of the document rests on the SDP. We must remember, that many social democrats at first refused to hold a dialogue with Merkel at all. What is more, 62-year old Martin Schulz is not confident in his position after the SDP losses on the last elections. Younger party members (Andrea Nahles and Schwesig) could very well replace him in the near future. Even in public Schulz has started to look a lot less confident, and his promises to raise pensions before 2025 and guarantee the functioning of the state healthcare system (which has never been in a worse situation, regardless of the number of migrants) are looking more and more ephemeral. As far as the 68-year old Horst Seehofer is concerned, who has refused the post of leader of the CSU, we see another factor of the fragility of the coalition and its personal positions. It is possible, that in case of failure he will return to his prime ministerial post of the free government of Babaria. According to him, the loss on the September elections was “a sign to the politicians, that things won’t be the same as before.” Experts are already calling the heads of the coalition “a trio that has been driven into a corner”, whose entire hope lies in the art of compromise. However, the remaining conflicts (even if the coalition holds) can create problems for the party members in the long-term. Translated from the Russian by V.A.V.