Coming up… the Bundestagswahl

Germany is have a so-called „Superwahljahr” this year. We have already had regional, mayoral and European elections, but the one that will probably be most talked about is the General Election or Bundestagswahl being held on 27th September.

At the moment, the subject occasionally pops up in the news in association with a particular policy, but otherwise the politicians seem to be avoiding it at the moment. Most of them, at least.

This is not really surprising, for the last four years Germany has had a coalition government made up of the two main political parties: CDU (in alliance with the CSU) and the SPD. If they start criticising the other party too soon, it may rock the coalition boat and cause a rift between them.

Apart from that, both sides have had an influence on most of the policies, so it is difficult for one side to criticise the other for something that they themselves also voted in favour of.

Which leaves the smaller parties like the FDP, Greens and Linke to give the critical interviews, but these are less influential parties that are unlikely to get a majority on their own and instead might form a coalition with one of the larger ones. So even they have to tread carefully, so as not to upset potential coalition partners.

All in all it means that many people are just not interested in national politics as the chance to make a difference is very small at the moment.

With just over three months to go until the election, it will be interesting to see how long in advance the coalition parties will start their campaigns.

Local elections in Hessen: all options are open!

My forecast yesterday wasn’t far off – the main parties ended up very close. The preliminary result shows the CDU with 36,8% and the SPD with 36,7%.

And that reflects much of what I said. The CDU seemed to me to be content to rely on their reputation based on their time in office – and they lost 12% of the vote. The SPD were campaigning as much as possible, and gained almost 8%. The FPD seemed to me to be indifferent, and stayed almost where they had been, gaining only 1.5%.

The biggest surprise was the left-wing party “Die Linke”, who managed to get the 5% necessary to enter the local parliament, which has made the whole situation more interesting, and more confusing.

Assuming that the results do not change, then the CDU and SPD have 42 seats each, the FDP have 11, the Green Party 9 and Die Linke have 6. 56 seats are needed for a majority.

Since none of the parties has that, they have to start looking to the other parties to form a coalition government. In the run-up to the election, there had been signals that the CDU would work with the FDP (so-called “black & yellow”) and the SPD would work with the Green party (so-called “red & green”).

However, neither of these combinations is now sufficient to get those 56 seats needed. So they now need to start considering a three-party solution. The most obvious being:

– the “Jamaica” coalition – CDU/FDP/Green, so-called because the party colours make up the colours of the Jamaican flag

– the “Traffic light” coalition – SPD/FDP/Green, so-called because the party colours make up the colours of a traffic light

– the “red, red, green” coalition – SPD/Green/Linke

The only trouble is, that not only did the party leaders discuss in advance who they would work with, but also who they would not work together with. And that makes some of these constellations impossible.

– the SPD have ruled out a coalition with the “Linke”
– the “Linke Partei” themselves have set conditions for a coalition with the SPD that I think are unlikely to be met, as they concern policies at national level and have nothing to do with Hessen!

– the FDP have ruled out a coalition with the SPD
– the SPD would like to have talks with the FDP, but the FDP have been quoted as saying that their policies are “85% different” to those of the SPD

– I haven’t heard much from the CDU about working with the Green party, apart from the fact that they preferred the FDP as their partner. But that was before the result was known.

– The Green party have let it be known that they would prefer the traffic light solution.

– Both SPD and CDU have ruled out working with each other in a “big coalition”, like there is at national level, and I have a feeling they would try to find some agreement within a three-party solution before resorting to that.

So in the end, we poor people in Hessen haven’t got a clue who is going to be running the state in future! You could say that we asked for it to be that way. But then again, I wasn’t allowed to vote!

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