AI Executive Committee member Joe Joffe tells you what you need to know in the Wall Street Journal:
The deeper meaning of this strange election, triumphal as it was for the once and future chancellor, is of a watershed in postwar German history. For the first time since 1949, the liberals—the Free Democratic Party—will not be represented in the Bundestag, having failed to clear the 5% hurdle. Not to put too fine a point on it, the ejection of the FDP (which fell from a 15% showing in 2009) leaves Germany with a parliament of Tweedledums and Tweedledees. Gone is the one and only party that is supposed to stand for free-market economics, low taxes and small government.Germans are left with four parties in power that range from pale-pink (the Christian Democrats) to the reddish (the Social Democrats and Greens) to the deep-red (Die Linke). They all—even the Christian Democrats—add up to a wall-to-wall social-democratic consensus. The hallmark of this consensus is an all-providing state that taxes, spends and regulates.The differences between these parties are not about principles, but about numbers: how much child support, how high the minimum wage, how many taxes, how much redistribution? In other words, Europe’s richest and most successful country has opted for a kind of gilded status quo. The unspoken message is: Spare me the risk, toil and trouble, never mind rampant technological change and the chaos just beyond Europe’s borders.
If you’re a EU politics junkie, and you’re interested in what Angela Merkel’s options are in forming governing coalitions, Joffe also has you covered. But Joe’s bigger point, about Germany’s current preference for regulated stability over the disruptive forces of markets, is the important take-away. Read the whole thing.[Angela Merkel image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]