• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

This is how Merkel could flunk the elections: enter the Far Left

Coalition politics combined with proportional representation and a fundamentally regionalised system can create the most fascinating potential outcomes – and do your head in. Like this: Merkel could still lose the German elections. Die Linke – the far-left party with a touch of DDR-nostalgia – could become the Kingmaker, paving way for a Social Democrat (SPD)-Green coalition.
This is how it could work:

The latest polls put the CDU/CSU at 41% and the SPD on 26% - with 59% of voters supporting Merkel as Chancellor compared to 30% who support the SPD’s Steinbrück. With the SPD and Greens still far off an absolute majority as a block, and with the FDP – Merkel’s current junior coalition partner polling at 5-6% ( the Bundestag threshold is 5%), it may seem as if Merkel has bagged it, either as part of a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition, or a CDU/CSU-SPD grand coalition.

However, this race isn’t over yet. If the FDP fails to make the 5% threshold, a lot can happen. The FDP could fail for two reasons: AfD could be nicking more votes from the FDP than expected, and ironically, the FDP scoring well in the Bavarian State elections on 15 September, could divert strategic CDU votes away from the FDP (voters who might vote strategically may have a false sense of confidence in FDP’s chances).

With the FDP out, the CDU/CSU is unlikely to get an absolute majority of Bundestag seats of its own, so it all becomes a matter of which constellation can reach a relative majority.

Enter Die Linke. The political divide between SPD-Greens and Die Linke is far too wide for them to actual joining forces in a coalition – in some SPD circles, Die Linke is, frankly, considered to be full of nutters. However, these parties do have one common interest: get rid of Merkel. So instead of SPD or Greens entering a very messy coalition arrangement with CDU/CSU (which no one wants, except the voters), they can strike a dirty deal with Die Linke whereby the former offer its passive support in the Bundestag on a policy-by-policy basis. A minority government with Die Linke’s blessing.

SPD/Greens would have to offer Die Linke something in return, of course, and the question if there’s any policy area where there’s sufficient overlap – or at least not outright conflict - between the parties manifestos for a deal to be struck. A new wealth tax perhaps? What’s clear is that Germany would take a quantum leap to the left.

What’s interesting is that though Die Linke leadership has previously hinted at this option being ruled out, the party never moved to rule it out completely. Die Linke head Bernd Riexinger said recently “If there is a majority against Merkel [after the elections], I will not exclude any option…only content will decide.” This is a clear invitation. However, we still hold this is as unlikely.

It would be interesting though to observe how Germany, governed by an SPD-Green coalition with Die Linke’s blessing, would continue its leadership role in the eurozone.

UPDATE: 6 September 2013

Speaking on the campaign trail yesterday, the SPD's Chancellor Candidate, Peer Steinbrück reiterated that "The SPD does not consider Die Linke appropriate as a coalition partner." It remains unclear, however, if  Steinbrück is rejecting cooperation with Die Linke until election night, or for the entire duration of the new government term.

1 comment:

Rik said...

The problem for such a set up would be that Die Linke are totally undigestible for large parts of the centre.
Meaning it will lead to a lot of strategic voting most likely:
-FDP returning to their nest (in order to give them the 5% and Merkel the majority.
-Centre will move to Merkel. They would have 2 reasons for that Steinbruck a very weak PM candidate and the Linke danger. Also from Green and SPD.
Have a look at peil.nl they have on their website still some polls on strategic voting in the last Dutch election. Influence was massive. Probably also relevant for UKip-Conservatives and related issues in the next UK election.
It simply makes clear that there can be huge moves in 50-50 situations. Which are what Germany shows and what the UK will likely show. And these trends are not so very different between the countries (Northern usually).
Simply a combination of a lot of undecided voters until very close to the election. With a lot of volatility in especially populist party results. And these parties being in the process of coming acceptable but still are not 100% there.
Most Dutch politicians are imbeciles imho but marketingwise some interesting things have happened there. Wilders great blueprint for any Northern right populists. Tiny/Riny Cox/SP great blueprint for a left wing populist party. Rutte (bit of a simpleton as a politician) managing earlier to become the by far largest right party (but now has completely messed it up). Interesting casestudies for other countries.
If in Germany the FDP had taken the Rutte road, the Linke had taken the Socialist road and AfD the Wilders road the political landscape would have been completely different.

At the end of the day if there is no normal majority. SPD/CDU is imho the still by far most likely. But I see FDP with a high probability making it. But seen the huge mistakes in the different poles more likely than the FDP missing the 5% is that Merkel/FDP simply donot get a majority. Still very close. Could therefor happen for different reasons.

Die Linke could learn a lesson from the Socialists SP in Holland.
By clever strategic movement (Riny or Tiny Cox or something, a senator did the strategy, not my party but great piece of work). They have shaken off the communist image. And became pallatable for a lot of other parties and voters.
Plus they have sailed well on the populist wave.
The Wagenknecht woman could be an exellent candidate if they reprofile her a bit (and she accepts that of course) (Let her hair hang loose and leave the communist tunnel vision). With SPD being extremely poor both in personal and ideas (alternatives for Merkel) the voter market looks to be open on that side. And they have a relatively stable position to start from being around 10%.

The Linke are however hardly pro-EU. Which might cause a problem for coalition making as well. Interesting for spectators like us however.
For the Linke dropping it as the Wilders in Holland thing shows that will cost you at the next election. You really need some real change in return to show to your voters.

But they might just do it just to get rid of Merkel, but that would require careful acting. Not spoil your next election chances, but Merkel not becoming Kanzler very likely means her exit. With Merkel gone the CDU because of its Christian profile looks to be structurally on the way down with a lot of voters likely for graps. And nobody of the traditional parties making a good or even acceptable impression (FDP and SPD simply both look like a joke). That could be another more long term golden chance for AfD.