As the results from the German election trickle through, it’s not good news for many. The headline results are that the “at best” right wing populists, the Alternative for Germany has entered the Bundestag. Merkel’s centre right alliance, CSU/CDU and their government partners the centre left Social Democrats (SPD) both lost seats with the latter announcing that despite the arithmetic working that they would look to return to opposition. This leaves Merkel looking to form a “Jamaica” coalition with the Free Democrats & Greens. We’ll see. I wonder if this like the wake up call in the UK, at the 2014 European Parliamentary elections is a signpost of worse to come.
In the chart above, the seats won and lost are shown. I have changed the colours used by wikipedia. I feel that these colours are more descriptive to a British eye. The hatching “\” shows seats lost, the hatching “/” shows seats won; strangely Die Linke and Die Grüne are unchanged.
This diagram illustrates the left to right split, with Die Linke on the left and the AfD on the right.
The FDP has at times been described as the equivalent to our Liberal Democrats but has more recently been described as “pro-business”, and describing them to the left of the CDU/CSU can be contested, particularly given Merkel’s flexibility. Economically they are neo-liberals and may have been influenced by the growth of popularity of the AfD’s monetarist wing. Their entry into the Government, may or may not help Theresa May as she seeks to negotiate Brexit terms, but they will be tough opponents and this assumes that Merkel has any will to give more. It’s also questionable if the FDP are any tougher than the SDP, who take a hard line on Britain’s special pleading.
The two critical issues in the German election would seem to be the EU’s institutional response to the Greek /Euro crisis/tragedy and the Germany’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis. The FDP object to the use of German tax-euro to subsidise the Southern European economies. This will make Macron’s (& Merkel’s) goal of strengthening the Euro’s governance difficult to pursue. This is likely to be part of the FDP’s appeal to voters.
The other question we need to ask and answer is just how awful are the AfD. The answer is pretty shit. They were founded by some monetarists who had objections to both subsidising what they saw as the feckless states and peoples of Southern Europe and the strengthening of pan-European monetary policy governance. In the European Parliamentary Elections in 2014, they won 7 seats, and joined the European Conservatives and Reformists group, having decided that UKIP and their group was a step too far. The Party however moved to the right and at their 2015 Congress, they elected a new Leader, Frauke Petry, on a platform of anti-immigration, opposing Islam and a pro-Russia stand. This led to the resignation of large parts of its previous, pro-business leadership including the majority of its MEPs. However, being a right wing party, of course the schisms continued and a further right-wing challenge was mounted. AfD flirted with the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and the European Conservatives and Reformists moved to expel them. (It’s unclear to me whether this was on grounds of loyalty or the unacceptable partners in the European Parliament which includes the National Front). Over the last year, the right in the AfD have grown in strength to the extent that Petry refused to act as the lead candidate and has resigned the whip in the Bundestag. It seems to be too toxic even for her.