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Work the Switches before the German Federal Election

Thu, 06/02/2016

By Axel Wallrabenstein , Chairman, Dr. Wigan Salazar , CEO and Christoph Moosbauer , Managing Director, MSLGROUP Germany

Germany’s political landscape is fragmenting

An era of relative stability in Germany’s political landscape is coming to an end. For some time, traditional party ties have been weakening, especially in Germany’s old eastern states – but increasingly also in the old west. The right-wing populist party AfD ( Alternative for Germany ) is benefiting most from this – especially on the back of the refugee crisis. The ongoing feud between the CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU over Angela Merkel ’s liberal refugee policy has further played into the AfD’s hands. Weaker party ties have also led the Greens to unforeseen heights (30.3 percent) in the traditionally CDU-dominated state of Baden-Württemberg. Here, as well as in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt, the changed electoral landscapes have forced political parties to form unprecedented, or highly unusual, coalitions.

Political certainties are also evaporating at the federal level: Recent polls show that the federal election in autumn 2017 will see major changes in the Bundestag. Having dropped out four years ago, the liberal FDP is about to re-enter the federal parliament, while the AfD is likely to leap above the five-percent threshold for the first time. Meanwhile, the two larger parties CDU / CSU and SPD — will see losses, so that traditional coalitions (CDU/CSU and FDP or SPD and Greens ) will fall short of majorities of their own. A repeat of the current grand coalition also seems unlikely: The SPD in particular will be in no mood for another coalition with the CDU and CSU. Weak as never before, the social democrats have little appetite to see their support dwindle even further. But conservatives are also weary of another grand coalition. Recent events in Austria, where a string of grand coalitions have left the larger parties permanently weakened, serve as a potent warning.

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