Merkel Clings to Power amid AfD surge – What Does That Mean for Europe and the World?

The German elections to the Bundestag did not create much attention (so far). The campaign was a quiet one (some say it was boring), and there were not many emotions invested. Also, most topics raised were not extensively debated. Even the potential outcomes looked predictable: probably, for the first time, seven parties (in six factions) would be represented (and so it came to pass); very likely, Ms. Merkel would earn her fourth term (looks likely); there either would be another big coalition between conservatives and social democrats (now off the table), or a ‘Jamaica’ coalition (black/ conservative – green – liberal). So, limited entertainment value and limited options?

We still do not know if the partially significant arithmetic results (a loss of 13% for the parties of the big coalition; the AfD in the Bundestag with almost 13%, and around 20 plus% in Eastern Germany) will translate into policy changes.

The question this week is: Does the outcome of the German elections have any impact on neighboring countries, the EU, international conflicts and the world in general? Is there an external dimension that matters? Will there be more domestic pressure on the future ruling coalition?

– Klaus Segbers

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  1. Andrey Makarychev 2 years ago

    Apart from many other political repercussions, the upshots of the German parliamentary election might have certain implications for Russia's role in Europe. First, it became clear that practical effects of Moscow's support for right-wing / national conservative parties - such as AfD - have their limits and should not be exaggerated. Secondly, it became obvious that the Kremlin teamed up with a party that a significant part - if not the majority - of the German voters consider as being dangerously close to the far-right nationalism, with all its negative connotations in the German political debate. The whole series of the 2017 elections in the Netherlands, France and finally in Germany attested to a rather limited efficiency of Moscow's strategy of re-entry to Europe through investing in non-mainstreat Eurosceptic parties; equally questionable looks Kremlin's heavy emphasis on capitalising on the refugee crisis through its over-dramatisation and the subsequent mobilisation of Russophone voters. All in all, instead of making steps towards rapprochement with political elites in major EU member states, Russia only reinforced its status as Europe outsider.

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  2. Justas Paleckis 2 years ago

    The conclusions of political scientists were confirmed: the big coalition in a country justifies when a particularly difficult situation arises; the junior partner is usually upstaged by the elder and gets weaker. Good election performance by AfD will bring alarm to near and distant German neighbors. One can imagine what wars – for the meantime just verbal – will inflame between the ruling nationalists-populists in Poland and their “colleagues” (still weak) in Germany. If the electorate will be gradually less and less supportive of the AfD (as happened several decades ago with the nationalist parties in the German Laender) European countries would breathe freely again. But a different option is very real too. It will be difficult to form a “Jamaica” coalition. Even if it will work, Liberals and Greens will think about their future and demonstrate their exclusiveness. And a rather strong, although not united opposition, will have great chances to hurt the government.

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  3. Dmytro Sherengovsky 2 years ago

    Indeed German elections were not the movie star in the international media, mainly for the predictability of general results. Ms. Merkel was considered to have a strong hand and lead the new coalition government even before the official results.
    Nevertheless, with the outcomes, we can see the dramatic defragmentation of German political landscape. While social democrats are taking the more fruitful oppositional option, and according to Mr. Schulz to prevent the AfD from being the main opposition party, the 'Jamaica scenario' is more likely to happen. That will cause new arrangements and compromises inside the more diverse coalition. Mr. Schulz has already stated that new Merkel's partner should not worry about their core interests, as Ms. Merkel will do everything to secure her Kanzlerin status. Unfortunately, international politics is often a second priority issue for the majority of newly established governments. Thus we can consider partial changes in the international politics of a country, which gives every fifth euro to EU budget. Such changes will not be dramatic in short run, but they will cause a rethinking of approaches and financial expenditures in the number of 'hard European issues.' I can see the rise of counter-arguments in the German-Ukrainian dialog for reforms and Donbas/Crimea issues also taking to account powerful establishment opposition of social democrats, which will try to distance themselves from the former coalition and pro-Russian AfD. Finally, AfD 'success' can give a new motivation to radical parties in the number of EU countries, therefore, in the long run, the solidarity in EU common politics could be a question for negotiations.

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  4. Thilo Bodenstein 2 years ago

    The outcome of the elections will alter the German political landscape for years to come. But the effects will be felt in Europe as well. Angela Merkel’s only option seems to be a three-way coalition government of the CDU/CSU bloc with the Greens and the liberal FDP. This will not ease the task of solving the ongoing problems with the Eurozone and coping with East-Central Europe’s populist leaders. The FDP denounces a joint Eurozone budget as irresponsible transfers to the European South. And after unexpected losses the staunchly conservative CSU declared to ‘defend its right flank’ in order not to lose more votes to the extremist AfD in next years’ Bavarian elections. CSU party leader Horst Seehofer will have no interest in mounting pressure on right-wing populist governments that openly break European law. He has already met with Hungary’s Viktor Orban on several occasions. With Angela Merkel battling over the reform of the Eurozone in her own ‘Jamaica’-coalition East-Central Europe will get even less of her attention. The populists on the Danube and the Vistula might be off the hook.

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  5. Anastasia Wischnewskaja 2 years ago

    On Monday Germany woke up in quite an electoral hangover which means that the next four years as any ill person, it will be occupied with itself to a much bigger extent than with the rest of the world. During the “Elefantenrunde” (“Elephant roundtable”, the talk show bringing together all heads of major parties right after the election results became public) almost no time was devoted to global challenges (it was Merkel who brought them up at the end of the discussion). The liberals - one of the major winners and possible members of the future governing coalition – had very little room for international and even European politics. And the major winner – the nationalistic “Alternative for Germany” has no comprehensive agenda on foreign policy. This all means that Markel most certainly will not be able to assume the role of “leader of the free world” and Germany will conduct a more selfish politics in Europe.

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  6. Nikoloz Tokhvadze 2 years ago

    As insignificant as the pre-election period was, it still contained the vital cues for the imminent German and European political life. For a start, lack of international and most importantly European topics was prevalent in campaigns. Currently, lack of consensus about the envisaged future of the EU among the potential ‘Jamaica’ coalition parties can seriously impede the changes that flamboyant leader of France has been pushing recently.
    On one hand, Angela Merkel, who was always reluctant to assume the role of the European leader will not suddenly become an European flag-bearer (hence, Macron filled in the void) and on the other hand, as vowed, in order to win back a big slack of her voters lost to the AfD, Merkel (as well as other mainstream parties) might realign their agendas along more conservative lines. That can translate into modestly retracting on the EU policies to appease part of electorate concerned about the ‘poor south’ freeriding the ‘hardworking German’ earnings.
    Afd surge, even though statistically significant, is probably not a game changer and can even play a positive role in consolidating the mainstream parties if they manage to reconcile their differences in an ideologically awkward collation.
    For the world and for the EU it can mean that Germany, now even more confined by institutional intricacies of decision-making, will further eschew the role of the leader and play rather modest and unobtrusive part in advancing union of soon to be 27. Ripples of Afd success for other EU countries, in my opinion, will be insignificant as soon as the AfD hype wears off and their inability to substantially influence the political agenda becomes evident.

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  1. Doa'a Sarsour 2 years ago

    The most significant conclusion we can deduce from the results of the recent elections is evident in the core policies of the Alternative Party for Germany, which, contrary to the immigration policy of the BFV, the German equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, monitors the party to see if it is unconstitutional. 21 of the German Constitution prohibits parties that "seek to undermine or abolish the free democratic system".

    The alternative party for Germany has become a pool of right-wing extremists, supporters of anti-refugees and the troublemakers of Islamophobia. This will necessarily affect the way that Germany treats the refugees and the way they are integrated into the German national fabric. and also how Germany treats Islamic groups in the world under a government that boasts of Islamophobia .In the end, the party's presence, and its growing popularity, raises questions about whether Germany has really learned from the lessons learned Of World War II and the Nazi dictatorship.

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  2. Katja Ferger 2 years ago

    The entry of a right wing party into the German parliament is a significant backlash in German history. Merkels reaction to the forced migration from conflicting zones presented a focal point that enabled mobilization of right-wing thoughts and movements. Until recently, the collective experience of the Nazi-regime in Germany prevented the country from serious right wing parties. Since the arrival of displaced people from conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa - the political climate tilted finally also in Germany - xenophonbic attacks have shockingly exploded during the last three years. With the entry of AfD these antiliberal, nationalist and xenophobic thoughts have now fond their way to be represented on the government level - which can have negative impacts on the integration and chances for these people to make a living.
    Studies (e.g. Yougov) show that the voters of the AfD are merely middle-class with secondary education who are mainly driven by their fear of terrorism and insecurity. Also, an outstanding proportion of AfD voters feel insecurity in terms of job precarity - e.g. temporary contracts. Providing safety and job security can thus be one of the major tasks to steel the thunder of rigth wing populist parties - and of course encouraging people to get to know each other and telling multipe stories can help to see that the causes of our collective fear of terrorism and war can not be solved in disconnection and isolation from each other but dialogue.

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  3. atheer almanaseer 2 years ago

    I think its the lack of international and most importantly European topics was prevalent in campaigns , Hopes in Europe are now high that a Merkel victory party has a double-digit lead in the polls – could, with France’s reformist president, Emmanuel Macron now installed in the alesyee, usher in far-reaching, and necessary, EU reform ..
    The nationalist, Eurosceptic Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) – which welcomed both Brexit and Trump – looks likely to enter the Bundestag for the first time in its four-year history. Christian Lindner, its leading candidate said in front of his supporters: "After failure a comeback is possible - thank you for that. The last Bundestag was the time that there was no liberal voice in the German parliament and I promise it was the last time."
    The anti-immigration, anti-Islam party is now represented in every German state in parliament and, while it has been hit by infighting and seen its support fall from 15% at the height of the refugee crisis.

    finally Germany’s recently amended electoral system, combining direct and proportional representation, is fiendishly complicated

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  4. Hammam Zabin 2 years ago

    yes of course !
    Because each election of each country the winner himself can affect the country and the region because people have different mindes perspectives and own ideas also so that they have already some decisions that they plan to take it whenever they win the elections and each decision can affect the region in bad or good way "depends on the mind of the winner"
    Second point is that the previous elections of Germany , actually in most of the elections there will be a lot of people who is devided to different parties and each party is for a specific person in the elections but lets be specific about the liberals , i think they will just try to be against the government even though i dont think they can affect it in such a situation like this ..
    Germany in this time they ll try to have a decisions that affect their country positively and dont care about the neighbors so they are just going to focus on themselves only and that's basically wont be a good thing for the neighbor actually , and here talking about this we can get back to the main point which is the quiet elections that was easily expected this is all depends on the winner of the elections "

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  5. Yara Refai 2 years ago

    the results of the recent German election is a "seismic quake". The shake-up of the right-wing "Alternative for Germany" party was nearly 13 percent of the vote in Germany's history since World War II. This victory reflects the shift of German and European attitudes toward refugees from "welcome to rejection", according to many opinion polls in Germany. The shift is reinforced by the emergence of right-wing forces that fuel their hostility on the one hand and the terrorist operations carried out by jihadist elements and elements in Berlin and other German and European cities on the other.The problem lies in the fact that few European countries bear the burden of refugees without the other majority who reject them. It would therefore be much better if "other European countries receive and distribute refugees in a fair manner."

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  6. Jesse Verhoef 2 years ago

    After electoral gains by the populist parties Party for Freedom in The Netherlands and Front National in France, AfD’s entry into Parliament follows the trend of the rise of populism in Europe. Now that important nations in the EU are facing altering political landscapes, does this mean that the populist surge will continue to develop at the same pace?
    Amidst the fear and polarization induced by populist leaders, in my view there are important lessons to be taken from the somewhat unexpected electoral success of the Dutch Green Party (GroenLinks).
    In the last winter’s parliamentary elections won 14 seats (out of 150 in parliament), up from 4 in the previous elections. The success can in part be explained by the clear and ambitious party program of the party, focusing on inclusion and social-economic issues. The party presented an alternative to the intolerance, anti-immigrant and anti-globalization rhetoric of the Party for Freedom.
    Leader of the Greens, Jesse Klaver, is popular under young voters thanks to his charisma and positive message. In combination with an empirically well-founded manifesto, it shows that voters can be attracted as long a clear and convincing choice is offered.
    Finally, I believe that the best way to address right-wing populism is on argumentation. Whereas populism especially thrives on emotional persuasion, there is an opportunity for the left to disseminate its ideas that are rather strengthened by factual evidence. To this end, an important role is to be played particularly by academia and research institutions to support this exercise.

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