Parliamentary elections in Germany: Mama against mama’s little helper

Written by on September 3, 2017 in Europe - Comments Off on Parliamentary elections in Germany: Mama against mama’s little helper

The next parliamentary elections in Germany are coming up, but the winner is already known. Angela Merkel, who is Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, will stay in her seat after the elections. Still, certain changes are a possibility.

According to pollsters, Merkel’s conservative Christian-Democratic Union (CDU), along with its Bavarian sister party CSU, will get around 38 percent of the vote. Second in line will be the centrist Social Democratic Party (SPD), which might end up with 24 percent.

Several smaller parties will be part of the Bundestag as well. They include the liberal FDP, the left-wingers of “Die Linke”, the Greens, as well as the radical right-wing party called “Alternative für Deutschland” (Alternative for Germany). These parties might get 8 percent of the vote each.

Martin Schulz, the former President of the European Parliament, is the SPD’s prime candidate. When his candidacy was announced some eight months ago, this came as a surprise to most Germans. The polling numbers for the Social Democrats initially skyrocketed. But since, two regional elections did not go well for his party. The hype around Schulz vanished rather quickly.

He will not admit it, at this stage (who would, during an election campaign?), but Martin Schulz can not be chancellor, since there is only one person who does have the numbers and the support she needs. Her name is Angela Merkel.

The SPD’s hopeful Martin Schulz.

Merkel has been Chancellor for 12 years so far. If she wins the elections, which she will, the physical chemistry expert will be closing in on the late former Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s record time in office. He stayed for 16 years. She might too. Ahead of the election, the 63-year-old promised she would remain in office for the entire term of four years.

During her times as Ecology Minister under Helmut Kohl, Angela Merkel was underestimated. Later, she prevailed against Kohl’s old boy’s club, as well as against the ultra-conservative part of her party and the Bavarian CSU colleagues, by moving the Union leftwards, into the center, even though fellow party members tried to prevent it.

This aspect is a huge problem for the Social Democrats, since they have been trying to reserve the political center for themselves. Policies, among them attractive ones, they may have enforced as junior partner of Merkel’s government coalition were credited to her. The SPD has become mama’s little helper.

More and more voters who used to choose the SPD’s former leader and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on the ballot, and Helmut Schmidt before him, now see Mrs. Merkel as the only guarantor for peace and stability during hard times within Europe, as well as beyond the E.U.’s turf. This makes the SPD lose even more votes.

Merkel has made mistakes. When the NSA bugging scandal erupted, she did not seem as upset as she should have been. Only when it became clear that the NSA had even bugged her own cell phone, she became furious. Also, she has been flip-flopping on the abolition of nuclear energy in Germany. She agreed to it during her first grand coalition, and retracted that decision later, in a coalition she had with the liberals. Then, when she saw NPPs in Fukoshima explode live on television, she suddenly became an opponent of nuclear energy again.

But none of her relatively few mistakes have affected her popularity for longer than 15 minutes.

What the upcoming elections are concerned, only one coalition seems feasible, with the numbers the pollsters are coming up with at this moment, which is yet another grand coalition. In case the numbers change in her favour, Mrs. Merkel might form a new coalition with the Liberal Party.

For a left-wing coalition, made up of the SPD, the Greens and Die Linke (“The Left”), a huge improvement of these parties’ numbers would be necessary. And there are many, especially in the SPD, who oppose a coalition of this kind. It won’t happen.

Germany’s economy is stable. Merkel and her helpers have successfully managed to maneuver around more than one global economy crisis, and to decrease unemployment. Her statement “Wir schaffen das” (“We will manage”), related to the hundreds of thousands of refugees she “invited”, which impressed the left and upset the right, might have hurt her popularity in quarters she needs. But it has largely been forgotten by now.

There is one aspect most democratic Germans, including political leaders, are truly worried about. It’s the radical right-wing party “AfD”. Read about it in this separate article: The return of the Ugly German

Regarding Germany’s relations with Bulgaria, the country this publication is published from, nothing will change. On the one hand, the Berlin government knows about the problems Bulgaria has, including the rampant corruption, the lack of a real justice reform, which would help fight it, the poverty, and the scandalous treatment of most minorities. On the other hand, Chancellor Merkel knows Prime Minister Boiko Borissov is pro-European, whether he runs a coalition with radicals like the United Patriots or not.

Related article: Parliamentary elections in Germany: The parties and their programmes

 

 

 

 

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Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.