In the German election, the socialist party won around 20%, an excellent result given their party banner. Here are the main scenarios.
The SPD must accept Angela Merkel, despite growing pressure in Germany. The poll results should force them to unify a conservative and liberal party. An alternative to Merkel is yet to be created.
Many in Germany expect the SPD to follow other social democrats who have returned to power after a long hiatus in power. The SPD’s defeat makes this unlikely for the foreseeable future.
The Social Democrats’ (SPD) poor showing in the election has prompted discussion about how best to restore the party’s fortunes. However, most social democrats refuse to join a “grand coalition” with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) until radical reforms are proposed. Most other Social Democrats may also oppose the idea.
The SPD’s losing campaign has fuelled calls for the party to come together with the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria. However, the quarrels between the parties in Munich have clouded their shared appeal in recent years. Another route is to take the Christian Democrats (CDU) to the far-right AfD to regain credibility. The AfD’s exclusion from the Bundestag could mean that the Christians do not have a viable partner.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) continues to rise
Despite the outcome in a general election, the AfD remains at the right hand of German politics.
The rightwing party won 13.6% of the vote and 100 seats in the Bundestag. It fell short of the 15% needed to enter the Bundestag. Previously, the AfD’s vote share reached above 14%. However, this rise comes in the context of the rise of populism across the West. The party benefited from the migration debate, an expression of a similar one in other countries such as the UK and the US. There has also been a deepening mistrust of the EU and Merkel’s Germany among parts of the electorate.
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Once again, the AfD will become a pressure group on the right. AfD’s leader at national level says the party has a “few freedoms”, a freedom that amounts to the much-vaunted idea of “the people” being against the existing order of things. Despite hundreds of thousands of refugees entering Germany in 2015, the AfD’s popularity was among the lowest.
The AfD will continue to grow at the national level. The problem for the party is that it is hard to distinguish it from the extreme rightwing parties in the European Union. This distinction is crucial, because the party’s supporters often dislike the Greens’ approach to Europe and think their policies are too liberal. Alternative for Germany remains a one-horse train on Brexit, in the same way it is hard to distinguish UKIP from the Greens in the UK.