Election Reveals Brexit- and Trump-Like Cleavages in Germany

Kaiserslautern Germany protest
Germans demonstrate against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy in Kaiserslautern, January 30, 2016 (Franz Ferdinand Photography)

Germany’s federal election revealed many of the same cleavages we have seen in America, Britain and France, Alexander Roth and Guntram B. Wolff report for the Bruegel think tank:

  • Urban-rural split: Support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party was low in the cities but high in the countryside.
  • Old versus young: Districts with a higher share of elderly voters were more supportive of the Alternative.
  • Education: There is a strong correlation here. The better educated Germans are, the less likely they were to vote for the Alternative.
  • Income: Higher disposable household income is associated with lower support for the Alternative, however, areas with high unemployment were also less likely to vote for the far right. Read more “Election Reveals Brexit- and Trump-Like Cleavages in Germany”

German Election Shows Stabilizing Effect of Multiparty Democracy

Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech in the German parliament in Berlin, October 15, 2015
Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech in the German parliament in Berlin, October 15, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

The headline-grapping news from Germany this weekend was the return of the far right, which won back seats in the national parliament for the first time since 1961.

But the bigger — and more reassuring — story of the election was the fragmentation of the German political landscape.

The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, once faraway the two largest parties, won only 56 percent of the seats combined. A record seven parties (counting the Bavarian Christian Social Union separately) crossed the 5-percent election threshold. Four parties will probably be needed to form a coalition government — another first in postwar German history.

This might look like instability at first, but it actually underscores the resilience of multiparty democracy. Read more “German Election Shows Stabilizing Effect of Multiparty Democracy”

Germany’s Social Democrats Should Have Picked Side

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1 (Bayern SPD/Joerg Koch)

Germany’s Social Democrats are going the way of the Dutch Labor Party.

Both parties tried to appeal to their working- and middle-class constituents in elections this year and both lost precisely because of this indecision.

Campaigning on liberal immigration laws, social justice and international engagement alienates blue-collar voters.

Campaigning on border controls and deemphasizing identity politics turns away college graduates.

Do both at the same time and you end up with with no supporters at all. Read more “Germany’s Social Democrats Should Have Picked Side”

Americans Largely Uninterested in German Election

American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6 (Bundesregierung)

In America, the German election is mostly being ignored.

Our media today are tightly focused on the ongoing controversy regarding President Donald Trump, NFL players, free speech and the national anthem.

In previous weeks, the endless health-care saga and unusually hasty hurricane season stole the headlines.

These issues are dramatic and tangible to Americans. The German election is viewed more as procedural than exciting or impactful. Read more “Americans Largely Uninterested in German Election”

“Jamaica” Coalition Looks Like Only Option in Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel listens during a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2012
German chancellor Angela Merkel listens during 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. Read more ““Jamaica” Coalition Looks Like Only Option in Germany”

Merkel Wins Reelection in Germany But Will Need More Parties to Govern

  • Germany could see a three-party “Jamaica” coalition after its election on Sunday.
  • Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats lost support but are still the largest party.
  • The Social Democrats suffered an historic defeat and have ruled out continuing the left-right “grand coalition”.
  • The far-right Alternative for Germany has become the third largest party with strong support from the formerly communist East.
  • The liberal Free Democrats, Greens and far-left Die Linke share fourth place. Read more “Merkel Wins Reelection in Germany But Will Need More Parties to Govern”

Our German Election Day Live Blog and Reading List

View of the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2009
View of the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2009 (Javan Makhmali)

On Sunday, the Atlantic Sentinel will be providing live analysis and commentary of the election in Germany.

Our focus will be on opinion. We won’t be competing with big-name outlets to bring you the latest news, although we will of course report the most important results.

We’ll be reading German, European and international coverage of the election and share (and where necessary translate) interesting takes. And we’ll have our own team of contributors to give you their perspective.

I hope you’ll join us! We’ll kick off around 3 in the afternoon Central European Time. Read more “Our German Election Day Live Blog and Reading List”

Social Democrats in Germany Make Same Mistake as Dutch

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, makes a speech in Brussels, June 19, 2013
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, makes a speech in Brussels, June 19, 2013 (European Parliament)

Germany’s Social Democrats are making the same mistake as the Dutch Labor Party, I argue in the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper this week.

Like Labor, which went down from 25 to 6 percent support in the most recent election, the Social Democrats are trying to appeal to both working- and middle-class supporters. It is that indecision that is turning both groups away from them.

College-educated voters in the city see the benefits of open borders in Europe and free trade with the rest of the world. Low-skilled workers and small towns feel the downsides. Progressives obsess about gay rights and gender issues that animate few blue-collar voters. Read more “Social Democrats in Germany Make Same Mistake as Dutch”

Liberal Free Democrats Would Keep Merkel Sharp

Christian Lindner, leader of Germany's Free Democratic Party, gives a news conference in Berlin, January 30, 2018
Christian Lindner, leader of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, gives a news conference in Berlin, January 30, 2018 (Shutterstock)

There is little doubt Angela Merkel will win reelection in Germany on Sunday. Her Christian Democrats are projected to win up to 40 percent support against 25 percent for the second party, the Social Democrats.

The two could continue to share power in a “grand coalition”, but we’re hoping the liberal Free Democrats will win enough seats to help form a center-right government instead.

Polls suggest that the two parties might just fall short of a majority. Conservative and liberal voters who want to keep the left out of power ought to give the Free Democrats their support. Read more “Liberal Free Democrats Would Keep Merkel Sharp”

Center-Right Voters Eager to Govern in Germany, Center-Left Unsure

German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel and Chancellor Angela Merkel enter a cabinet meeting in Berlin, January 14, 2015
German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel and Chancellor Angela Merkel enter a cabinet meeting in Berlin, January 14, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

Center-right voters in Germany hope Angela Merkel’s next coalition government will unite her Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats. But if the Greens are needed for a majority, they could live with that, the latest Deutschlandtrend poll shows.

Green party voters are less interested in a three-party coalition but surprisingly supportive of a deal with the right: 68 percent would join a Merkel-led administration.

The Christian Democrats are almost certain to remain the largest party, but it’s unclear from the polls if the Free Democrats will win enough seats to form a two-party government.

The Social Democrats, the second largest party, aren’t desperate for another “grand coalition”. Half their voters would prefer to go into opposition rather than share power with Merkel for another four years. Read more “Center-Right Voters Eager to Govern in Germany, Center-Left Unsure”