Miguel Ángel Benedicto
Professor of International Relations at the European University
he German elections said goodbye to Merkel, and the four parties that obtained the best results in last Sunday’s elections are working to find a successor to address the future challenges facing Germany and the European Union.
Both socialists (SPD) and conservatives (CDU/CSU) could form a government as they are only 1.6% of the votes apart. However, the socialist candidate Olaf Scholz obtained better results than in 2017 with five points more, and his conservative rival, Armin Laschet, fell 9 points; which puts Scholz in first place when it comes to trying to form a government. Still, those who hold the aces on the table are the third and fourth parties, the Greens and the FPD liberals who have obtained some good results with the support of the younger electorate.
Greens and Liberals have already taken the initiative and are holding talks to iron out the differences and avoid the failure of a tripartite as already happened in 2017, which led to the Grand Coalition between socialists and conservatives. They are separated by their vision on taxes and debt, but this time it does not seem that they will waste the possibility of being in the next German government. Economy and sustainability can go hand in hand and they have two clear options to be able to govern. The first one would be the traffic light coalition with the SPD and the Greens and Liberals, which is currently working in Schleswig-Holstein, and the second one, the Jamaica coalition between CDU, Liberals and Greens; whose government formula is in force in Rhineland-Palatinate.
German society has for the first time left the two big parties below 50% of the vote, but has also strengthened the center and left the extreme right of the AFD and the extreme left of Die Linke isolated, with a lower percentage of the vote.
If a tripartite emerges, it will have to face the succession of Merkel, who has represented stability and good management; but perhaps what Germany needs now is a leadership that takes more risks and modernizes the country. A future economic model that bets on the decarbonization of the economy and digital innovation, the most immediate challenges, need the leadership of a public investment that is stagnant at the moment.
In the event of a traffic light coalition governing, the contribution of the Liberals in a future government will be to curb the interventionist and taxation instinct of the Greens and Socialists, while supporting climate change policies.
Socialist Scholz has been Finance Minister under Merkel and is identified as the Chancellor’s heir despite being from the rival party. In contrast, the conservative Laschet ran a bad campaign, which led to one of the worst defeats for the conservative coalition. Merkel’s successor will have the challenge of making the Chancellor be forgotten and of taking risks to build the future not only of his country, but also of the European Union.
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