Mixed Blessing in Merkel Victory

In Germany’s federal election on September 22, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s joint Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party — together the CDU/CSU — achieved its best results since 1990 with approximately 49 percent of the 630 seats in the Bundestag. However, Merkel’s previous coalition partner, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), failed for the first time in post-war history to secure enough votes to get seats.

Merkel’s next task is to form a new majority partnership. The Social Democrats (SPD) have over 30 percent of the seats and had formed a coalition government with the CDU/CSU as recently as 2005-09. The two would make for a powerful and popular combined government if the CDU/CSU is willing to make the necessary concessions, but the SPD risks losing its presence in the shadow of a coalition as happened to the FDP.

The third and fourth runners up in the election each achieved a little over 10 percent of the seats. The Left party, formed out of East Germany’s Communist Party, and the Green party, however, would present unique challenges to Merkel’s party in a possible collation.