After serving as Prime Minister Angela Merkel for 16 years in Berlin, the Germans distributed votes across the political spectrum in an election to replace her in Sunday’s elections.
Preliminary results gave the Social Democratic Party in the center left a small lead, but it was so close that no one could yet say who the next prime minister would be and what the next government would be. ..
The only thing that was clearly visible was that it took weeks, if not months, to form a coalition. At a crucial moment when the continent was still struggling to recover from a pandemic and France, Europe’s largest democracy remained at stake. Germany’s core European partner — will face its own elections next spring.
Sunday’s elections marked the end of the German and European era. For more than a decade, Merkel was not only the German Chancellor, but also the de facto European leader. She piloted nations and continents through a series of crises, in the process helping Germany become a major European nation for the first time since two World Wars.
Her tenure was especially characterized by stability. Her centre-right party, the Christian Democratic Union, ruled Germany for 52 of the 72 years after the war, but was traditionally one small party.
However, the campaign turned out to be the most volatile in decades. Merkel’s candidate for the Christian Democratic Union, Armin Laschet, has long been considered a leading candidate until a series of failures exacerbated by his own unpopularity eroded his party’s leadership. rice field. Social Democratic candidate Olaf Scholz was fully counted before his stable persona led his party to a spectacular 10-point comeback. And Greens, who led the polls early and easily, fell short of expectations, but recorded the best results ever.
On Sunday, the share of the Christian Democratic vote fell well below 30%, heading towards the worst results in their history. For the first time, three parties are needed to form a coalition — and both major parties plan to hold competitive talks to do so.
Thomas Klein Brockhof, vice president of the Berlin-based German Marshall Foundation, said: , Research group.
Even before the announcement of the first official return, the Prime Minister announced their claim to the top job, which led to the front line as both key candidates to take over Merkel — and for that. Their intention to fight against. The long tradition of postponed, consensus-led politics has rapidly evaporated and replaced the more noisy tone.
At the Social Democratic Party headquarters in Berlin, there was a great cheer when the first exit poll was announced. “SPD is back!” Scholz, the party’s secretary-general, told a crowd of party members before Mr. Scholz took the stage with his wife, “the next prime minister will be called Olaf Scholz.” Insisted.
At the conservative headquarters across the town, Merkel’s party candidate, Rachette, revealed who the next prime minister would be, “We will do everything to form a government. “.
It’s a series of awkward situations that are likely to complicate negotiations to form a government. According to analysts, the final prime minister will not only have a weaker mission, but will spend less time leading Europe.
“Germany will be away from Europe for a while,” said Andrea Lemmele, dean of the Hearty School in Berlin. “And anyone who becomes prime minister is likely to be more distracted by domestic politics.”
When two-thirds of the constituencies were counted, the Social Democratic Party appeared to be slightly ahead, splitting the two major parties by less than 2 percentage points. Analysts said the votes for both parties could continue to fluctuate slightly. Four out of ten Germans voted by mail. This was counted as soon as the vote was thrown into the ballot box.
However, few expected a dramatic shift that would have more ambiguous results and reduce the need for protracted coalition negotiations.
The result will have a major impact on two smaller parties that are almost certain to be part of the new government: the Greens and the Liberal Democratic Party of Pro Business. Following courtships from both Mr. Scholz and Mr. Scholz, they first signaled a discussion between them.
“Maybe two prime ministers and two kingmakers” read one headline on the German public broadcaster ARD.
In a sense, Sunday’s return was a sign of voter turmoil with the resignation of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who resigned as the country’s most popular politician.
The Prime Minister oversaw the golden decade of Europe’s largest economy. The economy has expanded by more than a fifth, pushing the unemployment rate to its lowest level since the 1980s.
Britain bet the future in a referendum leaving the European Union as the United States was distracted by multiple wars, and France failed to reform. Merkel’s Germany was almost a stable paradise.
Kleine-Brockhoff of the German Marshall Foundation said:
“Now I’m worried about what’s going to happen next,” he said. “The presence and reputation of this prime minister is oversized and very difficult to imitate.”
That’s why both key candidates for her success ran primarily on a platform of continuity rather than change and, if possible, tried to signal that they were most similar to the prime minister they departed. Explains.
“This election campaign was basically about who was most like Merkel,” said Klein Brockhof.
Even Mr. Schortz, whose centre-left is the traditional opposition to Prime Minister Merkel’s conservatives, acted as the finance minister of the secession government, rather than the sensibilities of his own leftist party.
“Stability, not change, was his promise,” said Kleine-Brockhoff.
The unique political tradition of the Federal Republic of Germany is change by consensus.
In 40 years it was split from the eastern communist and West Germany had a strong government. Traditionally, one of two large parties teamed up with a small partner, or rarely two large parties formed a grand coalition. This tradition continued after the reunification in 1990, often with widespread changes with the support of the entire aisle, such as the labor market reforms of the early 2000s.
However, the four parties have gone down to seven, the two traditional major parties have shrunk, and the arithmetic of forming a government that accounts for more than 50% of the votes has changed. In the future, analysts say three or four parties, rather than two, will have to find a common ground enough to govern together.
Some analysts say that this growing fragmentation of Germany’s political situation could revitalize politics by bringing more voice into public debate. But as Germany becomes like the rest of Europe that has experienced similar crushing, especially Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, it will undoubtedly make it difficult to govern. And more messy politics could undermine the next prime minister.
Chancellor Merkel has probably embodied a tradition of consensus more than any of her predecessors. Of her four terms, three spent a grand coalition with the party’s traditional enemy, the Social Democratic Party.
Reigning as Merkel’s junior partner almost killed Germany’s oldest political party, the Social Democratic Party, and stripped it of its identity and position as the main voice of the Left Opposition. However, Mr. Scholz took advantage of his cozy relationship with the Prime Minister and effectively …