Chancellor Merkel saved – but nationalists lead the opposition
By Harald Dähne in Berlin
From October 2017 until now Germany was without an elected government — the longest time in the history of the Federal Republic.
Technically, this was no problem because the old Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and ministers continuing working.
But in the end it was a difficult time with much seesawing for politicians, and public. Now the new Government, a coalition between conservatives and social democrats, will be installed in the Bundestag at the end of this month.
At first, during the northern Autumn, negotiations between Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU), the Liberals and the Greens failed.
Schulz opposed to Merkel
So after Christmas dialogue with the social democrats (SPD) started. At first, their leader, Martin Schulz, declared twice to his party (which got only 20 percent of the votes) that they wouldn’t work with Merkel again — and would take up a role in opposition.
Now journalists are saying that on the one hand he’s a liar — and, on the other hand, his cooperation is indispensable for the stability of the nation!
However, before the elections most SPD parliamentarians wanted a new coalition with Merkel’s party.
Social Democrats divided
In February, the new arrangement between the Conservatives and the Social Democrats was finished. The problem: The consent of the majority of about 450,000 members of the SPD was necessary, althoughmany members said it was better for the party to regenerate in opposition than lose its social profile.
It was their opinion the 150 year old party was on the way into a political insignificance.
They thought the coalition didn’t have a future — hadn’t enough answers to the social problems in Germany. So Martin Schulz had a big problem explaining why he now preferred a coalition. On the other hand, Merkel’s more social and liberal policy came under big pressure inside the conservative parties, especially in the Bavarian offshoot. The populist, nationalist and racist AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) became a big problem.
Rise of the rightwing parties
In the last 20 years, it seems the big old German parties, Conservatives and the Social Democrats, became more and more similar in their politics — a big middle group. s in Austria or other European countries, extremist parties, especially rightwing parties, profited by this.
Before March 5th, the uncertainty was huge. Nobody knew what would happen if the SPD-members were against the deal — new elections, a minority government with Merkel on the top?
For weeks, the SPD slid in crisis. Leader Schulz had endured bad luck and had to abdicate after a series of mistakes.
In opinion polls, his SPD fell 15 percent. In this atmosphere the voting started.
State before party
The members decided with a 2/3 majority to have a new coalition. They supported the State, not their own party.
Merkel’s Chancellorship now is saved for the next years and she could be on power for 16 years — as long as Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
And the nationalist and racist AfD is, alongside the smaller Liberals, Greens and Socialists, the biggest opposition party in Parliament.