This one obstacle stands in the way of a German GroKo

Will Germany have a new government next month or will elections follow swiftly?

In early February, the BBC reported that Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc had reached an agreement with the centre-left SPD, a move likely to give Germany another four years of GroKo.

The eventual arrangement was widely viewed as being tipped in the SPD’s favour, despite them being the junior partner and performing worse in last year’s elections than they have in decades. Nonetheless, Merkel's party look content with the deal.

Mission accomplished, you say? Stability secured?

If only it were that simple.

There is still one major obstacle to the formation of a new grand coalition. In order to finalise the deal, SPD members will have vote in its favour. The results will be announced on 4th March, and SPD members have already started voting.

However, DW reports that the SPD’s youth movement, led by the charismatic Kevin Kuhnert, are arguing that the party should reject the deal. DW also reports that of the many new members who joined the SPD ahead of the vote, some could be joining with the specific aim of voting against the coalition.

If the SPD’s youth-wing is successful, there are four outcomes, but one overshadows the other:

For the sake of stability, it is possible to envisage a new deal being drawn up even more in the SPD’s favour. However, this would anger Merkel’s right, especially the CSU, and not go down well with SPD members who want their party to return to opposition and prepare to lead a future government no matter what.

Another option is renewal of talks between the CDU/CSU the Greens and the FDP although after last time's failure, it is hard to see that getting anywhere.

There is also the possibility of minority rule - or perhaps minority-rule with the FDP. This would be far from ideal and unlikely to last long.

Either way the people should have their say.

5. Improved Political Education

Education is the key to advancing individuals in society and advancing society itself.

Specifically, substantial, obligatory and non-biased political education is long overdue. If people are to be informed for elections, they need to understand how the system works, who the main political players are and the importance of voting in the first place.

The key to a healthy democracy is a knowledgeable population. Political education in schools is a much-needed solution to our ill democracy.

6. Automatic Voter Registration

One barrier to voting in the first place is the fact that individuals must register ahead of polling day. Generally, this is a simple procedure that takes a few minutes, however, that’s not the point. Individuals should have an automatic link with the political system via being able to vote from the get-go.

Automatic registration takes place in other countries, why not here?

Let’s make voting easy.

7. Compulsory Voting…For First-Time Voters

Many individuals, including myself, are very vary of making voting compulsory. The freedom not to vote is an important freedom and people should vote for the sake of it.

However, the proposal for first-time compulsory voting is a compromise that could set voters on a path to consistent engagement as there is strong evidence that voting is habitual, meaning that once individuals start they will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Perhaps it would be worth piloting this to see its impact.

The proposal polls suggesting that the far-right AfD are on track to become Germany’s second largest party, it’s the option none of the mainstream movements – especially the currently second-placed SPD – want. However, if the SPD’s members reject the final deal then then that's exactly what they could get.

What then?

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