Monday

25th Oct 2021

No clear winner to succeed Merkel in Germany

  • Sunrise over the Bundestag building in Berlin (Photo: Amire Appel)
Listen to article

The centre-left and centre-right candidates to replace Angela Merkel as German chancellor have both claimed the right to go ahead after inconclusive election results.

"We have a mandate to say we want to form the next government ... citizens want change," the centre-left SPD party's Olaf Scholz said on Sunday (26 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He promised a "good, pragmatic government for Germany".

The SPD narrowly won with 25.9 percent of the vote, according to projections on Monday morning.

But the centre-right CDU party's Armin Laschet said it was not all about getting "an arithmetic majority" in the vote-count.

"We will do everything in our power to form a federal government under the leadership of the CDU-CSU, because Germany now needs a coalition for the future that will modernise Germany," he also said.

The CDU came second on 24.1 percent, but this amounted to a historic low, which even saw it lose in Merkel's traditionally safe home district.

Its Bavaria-region sister party, the CSU, also got its worst result since 1949 - just 37.1 percent.

"It's still significantly higher than the country-wide [CDU] result", CSU chief Markus Söder noted.

By contrast, the Greens, headed by Annalena Baerbock, did better than ever, with 14.6 percent.

The liberal FDP party of Christian Lindner came fourth on 11.5 percent.

The far-right AfD won 10.5 percent and became the biggest party in two districts.

But the far-left Die Linke was struggling to make it over the five-percent threshold to retain any Bundestag seats.

The election was marked by the entry of two transgender women into parliament for the first time - the Greens' Nyke Slawik and Tessa Ganserer.

"We will today open a new chapter of self-determination in politics and ... end the years-long patronising of queer people," Slawik said.

The vote was also marked by another Russian cyber-attack on German politicians.

"We urge the Russian Federation to adhere to the norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace," the EU's foreign-affairs chief Josep Borrell said on Friday.

The leading parties will now enter 'exploratory talks' to form a coalition.

And talks could last beyond Christmas, leaving Merkel in office in an appendage to her 16-year career as head of the EU's most powerful country.

One likely outcome is a 'traffic-light' coalition, so called after the main parties' colours, of SPD, FDP, and Greens. Another one is a 'Jamaica' (flag-colour) coalition of CDU, FDP, and Greens.

The next chancellor is voted by parliament once a government is in place.

And "it hasn't always been the case that the party in first place provides the chancellor," the CDU's Laschet said on Sunday, amid the rising popularity of the Greens' Baerbock.

Meanwhile, Merkel herself is poised to exit the political arena with a whopping 64-percent approval rating.

Germany's economy is strong and it has one of the lowest Covid-19 death rates in Europe.

She will also be remembered for her handling of the 2015 refugee crisis, when over 1 million refugees entered Germany, many of whom still do not have jobs or speak German.

And she will be remembered for a mixed policy on Russia by her allies in central and eastern Europe.

On one hand, she helped build and keep EU economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but on the other Merkel completed a new Russian gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, which posed a strategic threat to the Baltic states and Poland.

Germany and Netherlands halt returns of Afghans

Last week, six EU countries, including Germany, and the Netherlands, said forced returns must continue despite violence in Afghanistan. Now they have changed their mind. Belgian Greens are also criticising the decision.

Interview

An economist on 'elephant-in-room' at German election

Economist Shahin Vallée says Germany has the resposability to lead the European debate on fiscal reforms in the face of the climate crisis. If they don't take up the mantle, the EU will continue failing during further crises.

Election means three-party German government likely

The two main rivals both have said they will try to head the next government. But the splintered election result means either will need both the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats to form a majority.

Poland vows not to give into EU 'blackmail' at summit

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte suggested Poland's Covid-19 recovery money should not be approved until Warsaw respects the rulings of the European Court of Justice and dispels doubts about the independence of its judiciary.

News in Brief

  1. Russia's anti-vax campaign backfired, EU says
  2. China angered as MEPs call for Taiwan talks
  3. Emissions from La Palma volcano reach Brussels
  4. Body of eighth victim of Belarus border-crisis found in river
  5. Report: Syrian bank fiddling currency to evade EU sanctions
  6. Nato adopts plan to counter new Russian threats
  7. Alleged killer of British MP 'felt affiliated' to IS
  8. Coronavirus: Belgium returns to 'red' zone

Opinion

Time for EU to grow up as a democracy

Conference on the Future of Europe must address shortcomings in the EU model of 'dual democracy' and prevent backsliding in member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. EU states want more Belarus sanctions
  2. Gas price spike exposes rift at EU summit
  3. Poland vows not to give into EU 'blackmail' at summit
  4. EU vows to uphold Paris climate ambition amid scientists' fears
  5. Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'
  6. Europe can't ignore Chinese encroachment in Ukraine
  7. Lithuania - where 'biodiversity funding' is cutting down trees
  8. Dutch lawyers take Frontex to EU court over pushbacks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us