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Merkel in Trouble


Is Germany up for grabs again after eight years of Merkel? A new group of polls suggest that it is, as Merkel’s conservative coalition has been steadily losing support in the run up to next week’s vote. As recently as last month, many observers believed Merkel would come out ahead without much trouble, but now her governing coalition is in a statistical dead heat with the opposing coalition of the Greens and the Social Democrats.

Much of the problem comes not from the trouble within her own party—Merkel remains a relatively popular figure—but from the failure of her “natural” coalition partner, the pro-business FDP party, which is now on the edge of the 5 percent threshold necessary to enter parliament. If the FDP falls below 5 percent of the vote (current polls place it at 4 percent), it could become considerably more difficult for Merkel to put together a majority even if her party performs better than expected. Even if Merkel remains Chancellor in this situation, she would likely only be head of a “grand coalition” with the opposition SDP, which would make it considerably more difficult to push her party’s policies forward.

One thing to remember, however, is that in the past Merkel’s allies have underperformed their early polling. Indeed, in yesterday’s Bavarian state elections, widely seen as a harbinger of the national election, the CDU’s sister party, the CSU, beat expectations to win outright with 47.7 percent of the vote. On the other hand, the FDP had a dismal showing and was booted from the state parliament entirely.

Against this political backdrop, the euroskeptic Alternative für Deutschland Party is gaining ground and has a shot at entering parliament itself. As the FT notes, this would be a further blow to Merkel, as it could push her closer to a grand coalition by increasing the support she needs to obtain a majority in the Bundestag.

[Angela Merkel image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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  • Corlyss

    Holy Cow! If Germans think they’ll be better off under a Green/Socialist coalition, they be dumber than the American voter was in 2012.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I like this für Deutschland Party, their on the rise, Merkel would be wise to court them as an alternative to the Grand Coalition.

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