Sunday, 14 July 2013

The German Elections: 5 Possible Outcomes

Not a great deal has changed in the run up to September's federal elections. Angela Merkel's personal popularity is holding strong, where as the SPD and FDP continue to languish. Almost all signs point towards a Merkel-led conservative victory. Let's look at a few possible outcomes:

Union + FDP - the status quo
If the free-market liberal FDP achieve a 5% vote share - the minimum necessary to be represented in the Bundestag - it's likely that the current coalition will continue to govern. Recent polling puts them just short of survival, but - as happened in Lower Saxony - CDU supporters are likely to vote tactically to push the FDP over the edge.

Union + SPD - the grand coalition
Should the FDP not make it, the most likely outcome is a repeat of the 2005 election: a grand coalition between social democrat SPD and CDU/CSU. Of course, the SPD suffered a substantial voter backlash the last time it entered a Merkel government as junior partner - there are plenty in the party who would argue against joining a Merkel cabinet. Peer Steinbr├╝ck, the SPD's candidate for chancellor stated he would not lead the SPD into such a coalition - but the party's poor performance makes his continuing leadership unlikely, whatever the outcome.

Union + Green - the outside chance
This one is likely only a mathematical possibility - but not without precedent (see Hamburg state elections, 2008). Merkel and the CDU seem open to the idea - but the leadership of the Greens have done (nearly) all they can to pour cold water on the idea. They openly campaign for a SPD-led government and a coalition with the CDU would be deeply unpopular with their core supporters. Of course, one should never underestimate the attraction to power, should the opportunity come...

SPD + Green + Left or FDP - the fantasies
Not only do the poll numbers make these combinations a mathematical long shot, but the SPD/Greens lack a good working relationship with the FDP or the former communist Left. If there were to be a concerted 'anyone but Merkel' campaign immediately after the election, one or the other could form an alliance - but her popularity makes this highly unlikely. 

SPD + Green - the opposition victory
The polls show this combination falling short by a wide margin. Of course, there is a while to go before the polls open on September 22nd - the Japanese Tsunami and Fukushima meltdown nearly doubled the Green's poll numbers overnight. But save for a political earthquake, this outcome is the least likely of the lot.

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