“The stars align” for the German SPD and Olaf Scholz to lead the government
German Finance Minister and Social Democratic Party (SPD) first candidate in federal elections Olaf Scholz.
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Germany’s main political parties are just starting to explore possible formations for a coalition government after an inconclusive election in September, with many experts still backing Olaf Scholz, the Social Democratic Party candidate, to be the new chancellor.
The center-left SPD won 25.7% of the vote in the September 26 elections (53 more seats than the 2017 elections), while the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union alliance (CDU-CSU ) of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel obtained 24.1% of the vote. vote, marking a loss of 50 seats from the last election.
The results, although still provisional, signal a potential shift in German politics which has been dominated by the conservative CDU-CSU for decades.
Two smaller parties, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Green Party, won 11.5% and 14.8% of the vote respectively, and are now in a kingmaker position when it comes to forming a coalition. .
Experts initially saw Germany facing two likely coalition formations with the SPD or CDU-CSU forming a government with the FDP and the Greens.
However, much depends on the progress of coalition talks and agreements that can be reached in more controversial policy areas, such as spending on environmental initiatives and taxation. Making matters more complicated were the first signs that the Greens would prefer a coalition with the SPD while the FDP leaned towards the CDU-CSU, its more natural bedmate.
Three signs for Scholz
After a week of initial coalition talks between the parties and more formal talks expected to be announced imminently, the changing dynamics of German politics point to an increasingly likely scenario that the SPD’s Scholz will lead the next government, note the experts.
“Developments since last Sunday suggest that the stars are lining up for a traffic light coalition between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP,” Naz Masraff, director of Europe at Eurasia Group, said Monday, now assessing the likelihood of this scenario to 75%. This coalition formation is called the “traffic light” option because it refers to the colors associated with the parties involved: red for the SPD, yellow for the FDP and the Greens.
Three signs indicated it, she said:
“First, post-election polls indicate that support for the SPD is increasing, while that for the center-right is declining. There is a clear popular preference for Olaf Scholz to become the next chancellor.”
Second, she noted that CDU leader Armin Laschet is under increasing internal pressure, facing increasing explicit calls for resignation and competition for CDU leadership, which he directs after Merkel’s resignation.
Third, Masraff noted that there are signals from the FDP and the Greens that they see a traffic light coalition as more likely.
Even FDP leader Christian Lindner, who previously expressed a preference for Jamaica [a coalition of the CDU-CSU, FDP and Greens, so-named because the party colors replicate those of the Jamaican flag], warned that the CDU / CSU needed to clarify whether it really wanted to lead the next government. “
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The main indicator to watch now is the nature and frequency of the coalition “traffic light” talks, she said, with a swift start of a three-way dialogue between the SPD, FDP and Greens , “and frequent contact with little exposure to the public domain on policy differences would increase the chances of traffic light coalition.”
Laschet to resign?
As it increasingly seems likely that the CDU-CSU could be left out and enter into opposition in Germany, party members commented last week on the need for a “renewal” for a period of time. introspection for the party as it prepares to bid farewell to Merkel who is stepping down after 16 years in power.
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Political experts agree that the CDU appears to be in disarray under new leader Laschet, who has failed to garner the same level of public admiration and affection as Merkel.
Speculation is mounting that Laschet may soon step down following internal pressure after his poor performance in polls in which the party had its worst election result since its formation after World War II.
“He (Laschet) could resign because there is a lot of internal wrangling and it is not clear that he will survive (in fact) it is unlikely that he will survive,” Dalia Marin, professor at CNBC, told CNBC. international economics at Munich’s School of Management. Monday, calling the situation in which the post-election CDU finds itself a “mess”.
“Merkel leaves a big void in this party and I think many people will miss her. The whole victory of the Conservative Party was down to her personality, her authenticity, her integrity and her stability and they don’t really have a successor. really convincing. “
Masraff of the Eurasia Group noted that the pressure on Laschet was mounting within the CDU, commenting that “many within the CDU-CSU see Laschet as too weak to lead coalition talks, let alone a government, given the risk that he would be blackmailed by small parties into giving too many concessions. That said, no prominent CDU / CSU politician is quite ready to topple Laschet. “
“Laschet will try to keep the talks going for as long as he can,” Masraff said, predicting, however, that “when these fail Laschet will step down, potentially along with members of the party’s federal executive committee.”