“Jamaica” Coalition Looks Like Only Option in Germany

A three-party coalition won’t be easy, but it may be the only option short of minority government.

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel attends a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2012 (EPP)

A three-party coalition of Christian Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens looks like the only possibility short of minority government in Germany.

Such a combination, unprecedented at the federal level, is nicknamed “Jamaica” because the parties’ colors are black, yellow and green.

Seat projections

Based on exit polls and early voting results, the public broadcaster ARD projects that:

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats will win around 270 seats in the new Bundestag;
  • The Social Democrats 134 seats;
  • The far-right Alternative for Germany 89 seats;
  • The liberal Free Democrats seventy seats;
  • The Greens 62 seats; and
  • The far-left Die Linke 59 seats.

ZDF, the other public broadcaster, has similar figures.

The Christian Democrats and Free Democrats, who have often ruled Germany together, would fall short of a majority, as would a left-wing coalition between the Social Democrats, Greens and Die Linke.

Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz has ruled out a continuation of the grand coalition, saying that although it still commands a majority it has “clearly lost support”.

A Jamaica coalition won’t be easy

The Greens’ economic and foreign policies are far to the left of the Free Democrats. Christian Democrats, especially in conservative Bavaria, worry that a more liberal immigration regime, as advocated by the Greens, would prompt more defections to the far right.

But voters are pragmatic. The latest Deutschlandtrend poll found that a majority of the Christian Democrats’ and the Free Democrats’ supporters would support a deal with the Greens.

Green party voters are divided. 68 percent would join with Merkel, but only one in two favor going into coalition with the Free Democrats.