Angela Merkel and the CDU may have won the German election in a landslide, but due to the peculiarities of the German parliamentary system she still has more work ahead before she can get down to governing. With no other right-of-center parties in the Bundestag, she is left with the unappealing alternatives of forming a “grand” collation with the social-democratic SPD party or the slightly-further left Greens (the ultra-left wing “Left” party is out of the question).Unfortunately, both options have their problems: Top CDU officials have ruled out a coalition with the Greens in favor of the SPD, yet the SPD itself is souring on the idea. The FT reports that the SPD has split over the prospect of serving with the CDU, with many calling for an intra-party vote. After seeing their electoral fortunes decline following the last “grand coalition,” many SPD officials aren’t keen on repeating the experience.Meanwhile, the green option has become more likely. Shortly after the election, AI board member Josef Joffe noted that the Green option could become a more attractive alternative if the current far-left party leadership were removed:
Then there is the Green option—possible, though not likely. It all depends on how quickly the Greens can manage to get rid of their double-headed leadership consisting of Jürgen Trittin and Katrin Göring-Eckardt. The Greens lost 2.3 points on Sunday compared to the 2009 election, after the joint-leadership duo dragged the party sharply left. They promised what politicos should never promise: higher taxes, especially for married folks with two incomes. Their environmentalist clientele—largely well-heeled urban professionals and public servants—were not amused.
Lo and behold, this is exactly what has happened: The BBC announced yesterday that the party leadership will be stepping down, with a member of the party’s “realist” wing as the expected replacement. This doesn’t guarantee that it will be invited for coalition talks, but it could certainly make many CDU party leaders more comfortable with the Green option. At the very least, it could give Merkel more leverage in negotiations with the SPD.But either way, the lack of conservative partners means that new coalition is likely to have a considerably stronger left-wing element than it did before.[Angela Merkel image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]