What changes will the Bundestag election bring for Europe?

After the Bundestag elections the first exploratory talks have now begun between the potential governing parties. The question of who will be the next chancellor remains open. Commentators are nonetheless busily speculating on the consequences of the election for their own countries and Europe. Most don't expect many changes - but not all see this as a good thing.

Open/close all quotes
LB.ua (UA) /

A weaker Germany

A three-party coalition will weaken Germany's influence, says LB.ua:

“Any three-party cabinet would be much weaker than Merkel's two-party government because it means the new chancellor would have to do a lot more negotiating for positions. The FDP and the Greens are staunch opponents of Nord Stream 2. ... What effect will this resolute stance have in an alliance with the SPD in which it's clear to any new chancellor that one of the partners could leave the coalition at any moment? ... With this balance of power in Germany, there will not be a strong chancellor for a long time. That will change Germany's role on the European and global stage. Compromise is now no longer just a matter of good style but an absolute necessity in order to retain power and stability, at least temporarily.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Not the slightest ambition to be a great power

Corriere della Sera contends that the two largest parties, SPD and CDU, lack geopolitical ambitions - and that they are not alone in that respect in Europe:

“This reflects the notion that Europe need not grow politically. It can remain as it is, half-baked. Signs of this lack of ambition are not only to be found in Germany; we Italians, the French, the Spanish and the Dutch lack what used to be called the will to wield power. We are not prepared to bear the costs of true autonomy and the ability to exercise our influence in the world. We still believe that we have a choice, and have opted not to pay the price for trying to be a great power.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

A damper on Macron's strategy

With Merkel's withdrawal Macron loses an important ally and must brace for resistance, says The Daily Telegraph:

“President Macron shared Angela Merkel's preference for doing deals with both Russia and China ignoring the human rights concerns voiced by both the FDP and German Greens. Back in the spring, the Macron-Merkel axis already buckled under pressure ... when they tried to swing both a big investment pact with China without serious human rights clauses and also a re-opening of dialogue with the Kremlin. Without Angela Merkel at the helm in Berlin, Macron's vision of European 'strategic autonomy' from the United States and an American-led NATO looks like a mirage.”

Yetkin Report (TR) /

Turkey very low on the agenda

Yetkin Report speculates on what German policy vis-à-vis Turkey will look like in the future:

“[R]adical changes are not expected, as the change in Germany's Turkish policy will be with a 'lowercase c'. ... The change in German policy towards Turkey, even with a 'lowercase c', will partly depend on whom the SPD will form a coalition with. ... And no matter which kind of coalition, who, from which party will assume the Foreign Ministry. German social democrats have always been closer to Turkey's rapprochement with Europe and kept away from xenophobia. They have also been open to dual citizenship. Once a coalition is formed and the dust settles, we will see that too.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Green foreign minister not much of a problem for Russia

Radio Kommersant FM does not believe that relations between Berlin and Moscow will suffer:

“Both sides are damned to strategic cooperation - with no love lost, but also no likelihood of a serious confrontation. Even if Baerbock, the head of the Greens, becomes foreign minister as predicted, all her talk about the need to tighten sanctions and pretty much stop Nord Stream 2 going into operation is just the opinion of a single coalition party, albeit an important one. The Greens will face less opposition from the Kremlin than from the new chancellor - regardless of whether it is Scholz or Laschet.”

Právo (CZ) /

Uncertain times

Právo distrusts the exploratory talks for a traffic light coalition (SPD, Greens, FDP) or a Jamaica coalition (CDU/CSU, Greens, FDP):

“Wouldn't a repeat of the grand coalition ultimately be the best solution, even if it doesn't seem very likely right now? Four years ago it seemed it would be Jamaica, until Lindner, the head of the FDP, opted out and the grand coalition was the only alternative. The only thing that seems certain is that uncertain times are dawning in Germany. That is not ideal at a time when Europe needs to react to a number of important global shifts. No least because the next election is looming in seven months - the presidential election in France.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Progressive fusion of ecology and business

The exploratory talks between the FDP and the Greens could be groundbreaking not only for Germany, L'Echo hopes:

“Analysts have obviously not failed to see this as a dialogue between fire and water, since the two parties have such profound differences of opinion. However, behind the scenes and despite their often overly exclusive postures, these two could show Europe how well political ecology and business can get along. A collaboration without which our climate agenda would be a stillborn, painful and financially disastrous operation. ... More than the name of the chancellor, it is the outcome of these initial negotiations between the Greens and liberals that will define the real agenda of this new post-Merkel era. If so, the German voters will have taught us a nice lesson.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Macron sees his chance for more influence

The close election result and the ensuing power vacuum are good news for Macron, The Spectator speculates:

“It will take some time for a coalition to be formed. Merkel is likely to still be the German Chancellor at the next EU Council meeting in October. But whoever succeeds her will take time to build up the authority that Merkel had in these meetings. Emmanuel Macron will undoubtedly use the coming French presidency not only to try and boost his own already strong re-election prospects but also to attempt to position himself as the dominant figure in the council.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Germany needs Finland's know-how now

Finland has good chances of receiving orders for exports to Germany, Ilta-Sanomat believes:

“With Merkel's withdrawal from politics, Finland loses an important partner. But the loss is not irreplaceable. Finland must build a good, functioning relationship with whoever becomes Germany's next chancellor. The future German government is expected to make major public investments in digitisation and promoting the green revolution. Investments in infrastructure and the fight against climate change offer many opportunities for the Finnish export industry. An increase in demand will be excellent news for us. It is not difficult to offer Finnish know-how to a trusted trading partner.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Please not an FDP finance minister!

The coalition negotiations will also influence the future of the EU Stability and Growth Pact, writes La Repubblica:

“The Bundestag election will influence our future more than the Italian election, whenever it takes place. Especially if a government is formed in Berlin in which the Liberals tip the scales - and with their leader Christian Lindner as finance minister. ... In that case, the pressure from Germany to return to fiscal (and monetary) austerity as soon as possible will become very strong. For Italy, the pre-Covid version of the Stability and Growth Pact would mean instability, a decline in growth and ever-increasing debt.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Athens waiting with bated breath

A traffic light coalition in Germany could have both good and bad consequences for Greece, Kathimerini notes:

“The Greens are already laying claim to the foreign ministry, a development that would most likely be positive for our country because of the party's tough stance on Turkey and its proposal for a generous gesture towards Athens as far as reparations are concerned. On the other hand the appointment of FDP leader Christian Lindner, an advocate of fiscal orthodoxy, as finance minister would be bad news for Greece and Europe at a time when fiscal relaxation is a prerequisite for recovery from the pandemic.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Jamaica coalition would suit the North

Jyllands-Posten is eager to see what colours Germany's first three-party coalition will display:

“A key role will be played by the liberal FDP. The party had a successful campaign under its charismatic leader Christian Lindner and in the past has been an unproblematic junior partner in both a social democratic and a conservative government. If things go in the latter direction, Lindner could become the new finance minister. The countries of Northern Europe, which form a kind of frugal alliance in the EU, would be happy about that. That also goes for Copenhagen.”

Polityka (PL) /

Weak AfD good for Poland

Polityka turns its attention to the losers in the elections:

“Besides the Christian Democrats, these are certainly the post-communist Left (falling just short of the five-percent cut-off mark for entering the Bundestag) and the AfD [with 10.3 percent], described by some as far-right, by others as national conservative. Four years ago the AfD won many voters who were outraged by Germany's acceptance of large numbers of refugees, but it has emerged weakened from this election. ... Germany is proving more resistant to right-wing populism than most other countries in Europe. This is good news for Poland, because the AfD, as a pro-Putin, anti-EU party, only finds support here among backers of the right-wing Konfederacja party, and the entire continent needs a strong Germany in a strong EU.”

La Razón (ES) /

Berlin and Paris focused on their own problems

Months-long coalition talks are the last thing Europe needs right now, writes La Razón:

“This is not a situation that provokes any major concerns for the EU partners, especially since they can rule out a Berlin government involving populists from far left or right. But it is not a particularly desirable situation either, considering that France is also entering a complicated electoral process. This means that the EU's two locomotives will be focused on their own domestic problems at a time when unified action is most urgently needed in the EU to address the economic, social and financial problems resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.”