Angela Merkel’s re-election is not the only news out of Germany (Hat-tip Dagmar).
The results showed that the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) won only 4.8%, which correspondents say is a disaster for the junior coalition partner, leaving it with no national representation in parliament for the first time in Germany’s post-war history.
Party chairman Philipp Roesler called it “the bitterest, saddest hour of the Free Democratic Party”.
The FDP was beaten by the Green Party (8.4%) and the former communist Left Party (8.6%). It almost finished behind the new Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), which advocates withdrawal from the euro currency and took 4.7%, just short of the parliamentary threshold.
There was at one point speculation that Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister CSU might even win enough seats for an absolute majority – the first in half a century. BBC
Comment: so the Greens have been outrun by the Left Party. It is good news that Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) “Alternative for Germany” – the country’s UKIP – did not get in.
Is the scene now set for another grand coalition? The leadership of the SPD are putting the brakes on speculation over a potential pairing with Merkel. Following its weak performance, the party wants to avoid internal disputes over what would be an unpopular alliance.
Sigmar Gabriel is usually very adept at beating around the bush, but after Sunday’s election result he decided to take a more direct tack. “We would have expected a little bit more,” the leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) said.
No, it was not a good outcome for the Social Democrats, and they know it. The party made a bit of a recovery compared to 2009, but talk of a resurgence is out of the question. The conservatives, consisting of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have rode off even further into the distance. To the chancellor and her party colleagues, the SPD looks tiny, a party left far behind.The Social Democrats are facing some testing weeks. Angela Merkel has fallen just short of an absolute majority; she needs a partner to govern. The Greens,after their own debacle, are likely to have enough to worry about without testing a potential coalition option that is already internally highly controversial, so the chancellor will likely court the SPD. After four years, the Social Democrats could once again be in government.
But few in the party have much enthusiasm for a new alliance with Merkel. The gap between the conservatives and their closest competitior is sizeable. A CDU/SPD coalition would not be on a level playing field — that at least is what the Social Democrats suspect. In the end, so the fears go, everything would pan out as it did in 2009. Or even worse. Back then, SPD politicians felt Merkel got the credit for anything positive that happened within the government, even if it was the Social Democrats’ own work.