Who will succeed Angela Merkel? The Social Democrats won the elections. But forming a new government can be tedious.
When the first predictions came to Sunday 18, the two main games were even. Almost 12 hours later, the final result of the elections was clear: the Social Democrats became the largest party in Germany for the first time since 2002.
The Social Democrats (SPD) Olaf Scholz is the clear winner of the elections. To everyone’s surprise, his party has returned as the most powerful force in German politics. Scholz was by far the most popular candidate for chancellor. Towards the end of the election campaign, he also managed to attract voters to the party. The SPD received 25.7 percent. The 2017 elections were historically poor. Then they had to settle for 20.5 percent.
But if this election result will also lead to Scholz becoming the country’s next chancellor, he’s in the blue. Of course, he will try to form a government. But if one is to believe the statements of other party leaders on election night, he is not alone in that.
Armin Laschet is the big loser of the elections. He is the leader of the Christian Democratic CDU party. As a candidate for chancellor for the CDU and the sister party CSU, he hoped to inherit the position of Angela Merkel.
The 24.1 percent result is a disaster for the party. By a wide margin, this is the worst result in the history of the Christian Democrats. In the previous election, the CDU / CSU finished at 32.9 percent.
However, Laschet can take over the throne of chancellor. In Germany, they opt for majority governments. For the first time, it takes three parties to rule the country. Perhaps, despite the defeat, Laschet manages to get the liberal FDP and the Greens to enter the government. In any case, he has said that he will try.
Who will rule Germany?
The funny situation now is that two smaller parties can decide who they want to rule with. The Greens obtained a result of 14.8 percent. It is well below what opinion polls showed before the summer, but it is still by far the best result in history.
The Liberal Democratic Liberal Party received 11.5 percent of the vote.
Now the two great parties CDU / CSU and SPD must offer great temptations for these two to come to the government.
The FDP is closest to the Christian Democrats, while the Greens seem closest to the SPD. But in the state where the Greens have had the most success, Baden-Württemberg, the Greens have ruled alongside the CDU since 2016.
FDP leader Christian Lindner suggested during the election night party leader debate that the polls should begin with the Greens and the FDP speaking together. Together, the two sides can decide who they want as chancellor, Scholz or Laschet.
So it was with the wing parties
The left-wing Die Linke party made a miserable decision and finished below the five percent threshold. But they won three direct seats and therefore still get a place in the Bundestag.
In the election campaign, the possibility of a red-red-green government was discussed, that is, a collaboration between the SPD, the Greens and Die Linke. This coalition now does not have a majority to back it.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) received 10.3 percent of the vote. This is a decrease from the previous elections, when they reached 12.7 percent. In any case, no other party will cooperate with the AfD, so it is not important for the formation of the government.
What happens next?
Within a month, the new Bundestag should have been constituted.
Except there are no fixed dates or deadlines. On Monday, September 27, all parties have their own meetings. This is followed by meetings in the different factions of the new party in the Bundestag.
When a party group is satisfied with the polls, it starts coalition negotiations. The parties talk together until they find solutions. The Chancellor is then elected by the Bundestag.
When will Germany have a new government?
Explorations and negotiations are expected to take months.
Most likely it is an “Ampel” coalition, a coalition of traffic lights, under Scholz: Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP, named after the party colors red, green and yellow.
Alternatively, a “Jamaica” coalition under Laschet: with the CDU, the FDP and the Greens. Here, the colors of the party correspond to the Jamaican flag: black, yellow and green.
If none of them are successful, another majority option is a grand coalition, that is, that both the CDU and the SPD remain in government. Alternatively with a third party.
After the 2017 elections, it was half a year before a new government was ready.
What does the election result mean for Norway?
The relationship between Germany and Norway is practically free of problems. The good relationship will likely continue regardless of who becomes chancellor. But in one area, challenges await. Because the greens have become so large, the energy field can become more complicated.
Most likely the Greens are in government. They will probably be responsible for environmental and energy policy. The party opposes carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology Norway is trying to sell to Germany. The Greens also want to reduce CO2 emissions faster than other parties. This may have consequences for Norwegian gas sales, albeit in a broader perspective.
Berlin gets its first mayoress
Parallel to the Bundestag elections, there were also elections in two states: Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In both places, the Social Democrats became the largest party. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the SPD achieved almost 40 percent support. AfD came in second with 16.7 percent.
In Berlin, the SPD finished with 21.4 percent of the vote. The Greens came in second with 18.9 percent.
Thus, the German capital will probably have its first female mayor: Franziska Giffey (SPD). Giffey was previously Minister of Education in Angela Merkel’s government, but had to resign in May because she had plagiarized her doctoral thesis.
In Berlin, a referendum was also held on whether the city should expropriate apartments from private companies. The maximum property limit will be 3,000 apartments. The goal is to prevent rents from increasing further.
The proposal received a majority. The price is estimated to be at least NOK 300 billion. The case is expected to end up in the court system.