Bulgaria makes it into German televised post-election discussion

Written by on September 24, 2017 in Europe - Comments Off on Bulgaria makes it into German televised post-election discussion

After polling stations in Germany closed and the first results were in, the top candidates of the seven parties in the next Bundestag had their traditional “Berlin Round”, a televised discussion. Bulgaria, the country this publication is based in, became part of it, during the closing statements.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was asked whether more European countries should become part of the Euro zone. She said there were not that many E.U. countries left which did not have the Euro yet. Any country which fulfilled the criteria should be allowed to join the zone, she stated.

“We do not say things like ‘Since you are Bulgaria, you can not become part of the zone'”, Merkel said. In the past weeks, an admittance of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen and Euro zones had been discussed in Brussels, Germany and Austria.

But the main focus of that big discussion on German TV was on the entry of a far-right, populist party into the Bundestag, and the question how the other parties should deal with it. The radical AfD (“Alternative for Germany”) got more than 13 percent of the votes, according to prelimenary results.

Most party candidates said they wanted to react to the AfD plainly and consistently, while Patrick Lindner, the head of the liberal party FDP indicated, ignoring the radical party’s comments now and then was the right way.

The only politician who managed to truly expose the AfD during this TV discussion was Katja Kipping of Die Linke (“The Left”). She said, the far-right party would name problems, including unemployment, and blame all of them on the refugees in Germany.

Another big subject of the discussion on German TV was the future government coalition. Martin Schulz, the head and top candidate of the Social-Democratic Party (SPD) said, his party would leave the Grand Coalition it is part of. He called Chancellor Merkel a “vaccum cleaner for ideas”, implicating she had taken away political initiatives started by his party.

Schulz’s tone towards Merkel was far more confrontational than it had been in many years. The SPD’s strategy seems to be to rebuild its reputation in the opposition. With around 20.7 percent, the centrist party received the worst result since World War II.

Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted she was disappointed because of her party’s losses of almost 9 percent, compared to the last parliamentary elections, four years ago. Her CDU ended up with approximately 32.8 percent.

But she also reminded viewers of the fact that she still heads the strongest party and that “nobody can govern without us”. Merkel rejected the idea of forming a minority government.

A four-way coalition, made up of Angela Merkel’s CDU, it’s Bavarian sister party CSU, the liberal FDP and The Greens, is now one of the most discussed subjects in Germany.

The preliminary election result was the following (updated on Monday morning):

> CDU/CSU (Merkel): 33%

> SPD (Schulz): 20.5%

> The Left: 9.2%

> The Greens: 8.9%

> AfD (radical right): 12.6%

> FDP (liberal): 10.7%

In the meantime, a German election party took place in Sofia. The German Embassy had invited some 250 people to a “Wahlnacht” event in the Losenets quarter. Herbert Salber, the new German Ambassador to Bulgaria, thanked everyone for coming.

Hardly anyone was shocked about the results, since they had been expected, at least more or less. In a “guess the results” competition, the winner got a Lufthansa flight ticket. Lufthansa’s only Bulgarian Airbus A380 pilot Mario Bakalov, who is very prominent in Bulgaria, was one of the guests.

Photo at top of page (not visible on small devices): Angela Merkel (center), talking in front of her party. Source: Screen shot from one of her social media channels.

 

 

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com