Germany has voted

Sep 25, 2017

Angela Merkel can remain German Chancellor. The major parties have lost a lot of ground. The AfD will be represented in the Bundestag for the first time. The FDP returns to parliament after an absence of four years.

Chancellor Merkel's party won the election despite vote losses Enlarge image Chancellor Merkel's party won the election despite vote losses (© dpa) The CDU/CSU parliamentary party will be the largest one in the 19th session of the German Bundestag. Led by Angela Merkel, according to the provisional official result, it won clearly, polling 33 percent of the votes. Merkel can thus hold a fourth period in office. However, the CDU and CSU sister parties polled high losses. 

Moreover, the partner in the grand coalition to date, the SPD led by Martin Schulz as its candidate for chancellor, also sustained dramatic losses: The Social Democrats fell to an all-time low of 20.5 percent.

It is the worst result since 1949 and the SPD’s fourth election loss since 2005. Directly after the first results were in, the SPD leadership resolved the party would not continue in a grand coalition.

Seven parties in the Bundestag

I The SPD intends to become the opposition leader Enlarge image The SPD intends to become the opposition leader (© dpa) n future, seven parties will be represented in the Bundestag: Above all, the right-wing populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) can be counted among the winners of the elections, polling 12.6 percent, making it the third largest party in parliament. It made large gains above all in east Germany. 

Surveys show, however, that people primarily voted for the AfD out of “disappointment” and, unlike other parties, not out of “conviction”. For the first time since 1961, in the shape of the AfD there is once more a party right of the CDU and CSU represented in the Bundestag.

After an absence of four years, the FDP will be returning to parliament: The Liberals polled 10.7 percent. The party Die Linke attracted 9.2 percent of the vote, while Bündnis 90/The Greens will be the smallest parliamentary party, and polled 8.9 percent. Both parties made gains.

The turnout was 76.2 percent and thus appreciably higher than at the last general election (2013: 71.5 percent).

Difficult formation of a new government

The FDP return to parliament Enlarge image The FDP return to parliament (© dpa) One thing is clear: Forming a new government will not be easy. Since the SPD does not wish to become part of a grand coalition again, the CDU/CSU only has the option of a so-called “Jamaica” coalition of black, yellow and green, the colours of the Jamaican flag and also the colours representing the CDU/CSU, FDP and the Green parties. 

However, the parties have very different positions on decisive issues and finding common ground for a collation treaty will be a great challenge presumably. Angela Merkel said that the CDU/CSU is now tasked with approaching the various parties and negotiating a governing coalition: “We live in stormy times and I appeal to everyone not to shirk their responsibilities.” It has been decades since there was a three-party coalition in Germany, the last time being in 1957. Moreover, a “Jamaica” alliance would also be a premiere.

The right-wing populist AfD will be the third-largest party Enlarge image The right-wing populist AfD will be the third-largest party (© dpa) Many commentators regard the result as an historical caesura, above all owing to the AfD’s good performance. In the shape of the AfD, for the first time since the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany a party is entering parliament that stands for right-wing populist positions. Before the election evening was over, there were already protests that the AfD was joining parliament: In Frankfurt/Main demonstrators marched through the Bahnhofsviertel district; on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz opponents of the AfD assembled in front of the building where the AfD was celebrating and demonstrated against its election victory.

There will presumably be 709  members of the Bundestag making it larger than ever before – the result of countless overhang and equalizing seats due to proportional representation.

The facts at a glance: 

  • CDU/CSU win the election, but see high losses
  • The SPD polls its all-time worst result and resolves to lead the opposition
  • A “Jamaica” coalition (CDU/CSU, FDP, Greens) currently seems to be the only option to form a government
  • The right-wing populist AfD enters parliament for the first time
  • The FDP is back in parliament
  • The Greens and the Linke polled fairly similar results and both gained votes
  • The turn-out was 76.2 percent, well up on the 2013 figure

The provisional official result:

  • CDU 26.8 percent (2013: 34.1 percent) 200 seats
  • SPD 20.5 (25.7) 153 seats
  • AfD 12.6 (4.7) 94 seats
  • Linke 9.2 (8.6) 69 seats
  • Greens 8.9 (8.4) 67 seats
  • CSU 6.2 ( 7.4) 46 seats
  • FDP 10.7 (4.8) 80 seats

German general elections 2017

Berlin: Reichstag, in the plenary chamber of the German federal parliament

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