Germans elect a new Bundestag on September 26. Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel is not seeking reelection after serving four terms. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is polling in first place, but the left-wing Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens are not far behind.
Three more parties (counting the union of Merkel’s CDU and Bavaria’s Christian Social Union as one) are expected to win seats: the center-right Free Democrats (FDP), the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the far-left Die Linke.
The outgoing “grand coalition” of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats is unlikely to defend its majority, and the former rivals are wary anyway of forming another two-party government after sharing power for twelve of the last sixteen years.
All other parties rule out pacts with the AfD. The Greens, who are projected to be the biggest winners of the election, would be needed in all possible coalitions:
- Union + Greens + FDP: Failed in 2017, when the liberals balked. Could be a modernizing, pro-EU government that seeks technological solutions to the climate crisis.
- Union + SPD + Greens: Less attractive to the Christian Democrats on labor and tax policy, but the Union and SPD see eye to eye on protecting industries and jobs.
- SPD + Greens + FDP: Makes less sense for the FDP, who would face opposition from the center- and far right.
- SPD + Greens + Linke: Politically risky for SPD and Greens, who want to appear moderate, and difficult policy-wise on defense, EU and relations with the United States.
Here’s where the four mainstream parties stand on ten of the issues at stake in this election. Read more “What’s at Stake in the German Election”