Germany: what comes after the election?

After the Bundestag elections, SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz has said he favours a "traffic light" coalition in which his party would govern jointly with the Greens and the FDP. But CDU leader Armin Laschet is not giving up yet and, despite growing criticism from within his own ranks, still hopes to form a government with his party at the helm. A complicated situation, as the analyses in the press show.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Zig-zagging undermines trust

The CDU/CSU must clarify the future of its chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, writes Der Standard:

“Either it sends Laschet on his way right now because it can no longer work with him, and that would be a legitimate step. Or it allows him this one last attempt to forge a black-green-yellow alliance. Its current middle course - bashing Laschet but at the same time letting him continue - is only increasing the damage to the entire party.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Laschet buying time

De Standaard, however, believes that what looks like an unclear role could actually work out in the end:

“One trick for dealing with political problems is to ignore them and wait until things calm down. Armin Laschet, the leader of the Christian Democrats, is very good at this. ... If a red-yellow-green coalition doesn't work out, he'll be waiting with open arms for the Greens and the liberals. If the CDU/CSU suddenly ends up leading the government, Laschet will be able to offer his frustrated party colleagues ministerial posts. ... The roosters in his party who want to become leader of the parliamentary group will also have to wait. ... The last thing the CDU/CSU needs now on top of all the criticism of its chancellor candidate is an internal power struggle over who leads its parliamentary group.”

Denik (CZ) /

In the Czech Republic AfD would be a viable partner

Mathematically, the CDU/CSU, FDP, and AfD would have a majority, but joining forces with the far right is out of the question in Germany, Deník notes with relief:

“It's almost surprising that no one in Germany mentions this mathematically feasible option - despite the fact that it would bring Laschet into the chancellor's office. But we are in Germany, and here you simply don't negotiate or govern with right-wing extremists like those of the AfD. ... In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, Andrej Babiš, who is expected to win the election in a few days, is openly backing Tomio Okamura's party, the Czech equivalent of the AfD. And even President Miloš Zeman would have no issues with such a cabinet, which would be absolutely dreadful for the country's future.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Main contenders will have to make moves

The fact that both Scholz and Laschet still have a chance of becoming chancellor could bring dynamism into the negotiations, says Dnevnik:

“Neither the third-placed Greens nor the fourth-placed liberals are currently ruling anything out. This holds the promise of an exciting political poker game after the election - and very generous offers from both Scholz and Laschet. FDP leader Christian Lindner can enter these coalition talks utterly relaxed. ... The Greens, whose result was both sweet and sour, have less reason to be relaxed. In May they were eyeing the Chancellery themselves.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Maintaining a centrist position

Things could have turned out very differently for the Social Democrats, Corriere della Sera marvels:

“The SPD has once again become the leading German party, not by steering a radical leftist course à la Jeremy Corbyn or Jean-Luc Mélenchon, but with a centrist course laying claim to Angela Merkel's legacy. ... This was not to be taken for granted. ... The Social Democrats seemed doomed to share the fate of the Greek Pasok party, which was ousted by the populists of Syriza, or that of the French PS, which was sidelined by the centrist Emmanuel Macron. Instead, a party that seemed to be at the end of the line despite its glorious history is now set poised to take the Chancellery. Also because people want order once more after the coronavirus crisis.”

Badische Zeitung (DE) /

Time to get rid of incrustations

Badische Zeitung recommends that the parties take their cue from neighbouring countries regarding coalition negotiations:

“They could learn from Austria, where conservative chancellor Sebastian Kurz found a way to get along with the ideologically distant Greens by entrusting entire policy areas - and thus the possibility of undiluted success - to each side. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, pragmatic multi-party alliances with astonishing reform potential keep forming, even if this process is currently taking a particularly long time. The lack of clarity in German politics today may be off-putting. But it also offers a chance to remove some incrustations and overcome rifts. Done well, either the traffic light or Jamaica coalitions will bring together the best ideas of three parties.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Germany ever greener

Eesti Päevaleht sees the Greens' results as a success:

“So far the Greens have only been in government with Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats between 1998 and 2005. ... Now they have boosted their share of the vote by six percent and secured third place. Germany's policy, which is leading the way for Europe's green policy, is becoming even greener. The green revolution is continuing. In Estonia it's currently in fashion to speak out populistically against the green revolution - saying that it's too expensive and impossible to achieve. After the election results in Europe's strongest economy this seems like spitting against the wind. The green revolution is coming.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Coalition partners will cancel each other out

De Volkskrant does not believe that major political change is possible now:

“The Greens are a natural government partner for [the Social Democrats] but it is to be feared that the liberal FDP would constantly pull the brakes in a three-party coalition. In a coalition of the CDU, Greens and FDP, on the other hand, the Greens would try to prevent politics from tipping too far to the right. In both cases, there is a risk of a wingnut coalition in which the partners neutralise each other. This is bad for Germany and bad for Europe ... Without a strong and powerful Germany, progress in Europe will not be possible.”