Winners and Losers of The German Federal Election
Harry Ligonnet discusses the outcomes of the recent Bundestag election. At present, the outcomes for Germany are unclear…
Having arrived in Mannheim on the 4th of September, a city of moderate size in the state of Baden-Württemberg, I was immediately aware of the importance of the coming election in the country. Political posters lined the roads, advertising a range of parties from the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) to the pan-European Volt party. Ever-present were the faces of the Green party, the CDU, and the SPD candidates, accompanied with slogans pointing towards the future of German society.
Each visit to the local supermarket would include an encounter with party volunteers pushing a flyer in your hands. Climate protesters filled squares on Fridays, whilst union members, conservative Christians, and youth activists dotted the city centre. It was evident that Germany was gearing up for a shift in policy and direction, with each group vying to influence the course that the post-Merkel era would take.
“It was evident that Germany was gearing up for a shift in policy and direction”
Climate change was at the heart of this election, with an environmental agenda being mandatory for those in power to follow.
Whilst the Green movement had been gaining pace within Europe for the past few years, the flooding in the summer of 2021 in western Germany which saw hundreds of people die exacerbated the urgency of the climate emergency in the public eye. The flooding was caused by increased rainfall due to man-made climate change, putting in plain view the issues which the catastrophe had been causing around the world. Moreover, German media used this lens in its coverage in the elections, causing havoc for the CDU’s leader Armin Laschet who was pictured laughing at the flood-stricken town of Erfstadt.
Duly, pollsters predicted an SPD-led government to emerge from the elections on the September 26th, it was clear that environmental policy would be at the centre of the agenda. In the eye of the storm was the youth vote, who’s progressive sensibilities were appealed to by the SPD and Green party, and their pragmatic centrist tendencies by the liberal Free Democrats.
Yet, the election results proved unsatisfactory for all, although onus is now on the Greens to follow through with their promises.
As I am writing this article, a government is yet to be formed. No clear victor had been found, meaning that a coalition spanning multiple parties will have to be formed. While this may seem strange through the lens of the UK parliamentary system, Germans are proud of their progressive democracy which aims to proportionally represent as many sectors of the population as possible.
The consensus seems to be that the SPD -narrowly the largest party in the Bundestag- will lead talks and most likely form a ‘traffic-light coalition’ (named after the colours of the SPD, the Free Democrat party and the Green party). Unlike the heated outrage over the 2017 results, where the AFD’s entry to the Bundestag was heavily protested, this election has everyone dissatisfied. People are expectant of the future government, and whether Olaf Schulz can act as the ‘climate chancellor’ he promises to be.
Editor: Ryan Gerrett