5 thoughts following Germany’s conservative-SPD deal

Germany looks set to have a government once again, but what should we make of the deal?

According to the BBC, Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU/CSU and Martin Schulz’s centre-left SPD have agreed to form a coalition. But what can we take from this?

1. One more hurdle

While the main players from Germany’s two largest party have reached a deal, the SPD membership still needs to vote on the deal, as reported by Reuters. If members pass the deal, like they did following the 2013 elections, Germany will likely have at least four more years of grand coalition government, a move that will please those searching for stability. Such an outcome will likely be welcomed across Europe. However, if members vote against it, which is possible as Reuters reports that there is a significant body of members wanting the party to go into opposition and define itself against the CDU/CSU, then the country could back to the polls for the second time within less than a year.

2. A new type of grand coalition

The prospect of the deal being voted down has benefited the SPD in the negotiations. Despite returning to parliament with significantly fewer seats and a smaller share of the vote, they have been given more ministries than before, as reported by the BBC. The party will likely control the ministries of finance, foreign affairs and labour, putting them in a key position to make government policy. If the party can use this to show that they can make a difference as Merkel’s junior partner then they might be rewarded at the next election, but if not then this could be the start of the end of the SPD.

3. The polls

On the whole, polling since the election suggests that very little has changed, indicating that a new election could lead to very similar results. The CDU/CSU remain the largest party by far while the SPD remain at around the 20% mark although polls since the end of January have consistently put them in the high teens.

A new election could be the last thing the country's two main parties need.

4. The AfD

Germany’s far-right, anti-immigration party came third in September’s election, coming from nowhere to win 13% of the vote. Polling indicates that their share of the vote is holding up, but the question is: with the grand coalition set to be renewed, how will this change over the parliament? Will the AfD be able to capitalise on a centrist government of “more of the same” or will ongoing infighting lead to the party's early demise and hit the reset button on German politics in time for 2021?

5. The FDP are not in government, but they have won

After four years governing with the CDU/CSU, the pro-market, liberal party lost all its representation in the Bundestag. Four years later – at last year’s election – they made a remarkable comeback. The FDP will now benefit from increased media attention by being back in the chamber and could capitalise on the government’s leftward shift by prying voters from the CDU who want a non-radical alternative to Merkel.

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