German election: CDU/CSU 41 %, SPD 22 %

The election will take place in one month. According to polls CDU/CSU is in a good position. I seems that Merkel will win (not saying she we rule). Read few comments.

Questions:

1.  Is anything what SPD can do about it in your opinion or the can just hope they will be able to strike a deal with the Greens?

2. What kind of government do you expect after the elections?

Answers:

Thomas Saalfeld, Professor of Political Science, University of Bamberg

1. We have to be very careful to make predictions, because many voters will decide late whether they will go to the polls at all. And unexpected events may still influence the extent to which the parties can mobilise voters. If current polls are correct, the CDU/CSU will receive around 40 per cent of the vote. However, it is uncertain whether the Christian Democrats’ current coalition partner, the FDP, will be able to gain more than 5 per cent of the national vote, which is the requirement for them to gain proportional representation in the new Bundestag. If they do achieve 5 per cent or more, the current government parties may have an aggregate share of the vote between 45 and 47 per cent. Given the fact that there will be “surplus seats” arising from the German electoral system and some parties such will gain votes but may not get 5 per cent of the votes (i.e., their votes are “wasted2), these 45-47 per cent may be sufficient for the current government parties to gain a narrow overall majority of seats in the new Bundestag. The SPD and Greens have declared their intention to form a coalition after the election, if there is a chance to form a coalition government. However, especially the SPD does not look to be strong enough at present. Especially its candidate for the chancellorship, Peer Steinbrück, is not sufficiently popular to match Angela Merkel’s popularity. In addition, his “team of experts” gets very little exposure in the media.

2. There are four likely scenarios (scenarios!!!): (1) a continuation of the present coalition government. This will depend largely on the result for the FDP. (2) a “Grand Coalition” of CDU/CSU and SPD. Neither of the two parties is very keen on this (although Merkel may not be entirely adverse). Therefore, if a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition is not possible and the coalition negotiations between CDU/CSU and SPD become too difficult, there may (3) be new elections. (4) The fourth scenario would be a SPD-Green coalition, but this looks unlikely at the moment, especially as the two parties would not want to depend on the votes of Die Linke.

Joanna McKaySenior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University

1. There doesn’t seem much that the SPD can do to increase their chances. Event though Germans don’t elect their chancellor directly, Merkel is by far the most popular candidate as chancellor. The voters seem to believe that she sticks up for German interests in Europe in a non-heavy handed way – in a sort of caring maternal way, even though she isn’t actually a mother herself! The SPD needs a new Gerhard Schroeder but doesn’t seem to have one at the moment.

2. I suspect that on the day there might be a bit of a ‘save the FDP’ vote if polls predict that they might not reach the required 5%. This is what happened in a Land election in January in Lower Saxony – the polls predicted that the FDP would fail to reenter parliament and centre-right voters voted to save them, thereby taking votes from the CDU ( and on this occasion letting the centre-left gain power). So a return to government of the current coalition is probable, unless something unexpected happens between now and 22nd Sept.

The other big question is how small parties will perform, such as the Alternative fuer Deutschland, and the Piratenpartei.  I suspect that neither party will gain seats, and if i’m wrong, only only will, as there is only really room for one maverick party in the German party system at most. The AfD may have ruined the chances of the Piraten who are less novel now.

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