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A voter casts a ballot in postal voting center in Mainz, Germany, on March 10. Voters go to the polls on March 14 for state elections in Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg. (Alex Kraus/Bloomberg)

In September, Germany will hold a general election, which will decide the composition of Germany’s parliament, and, ultimately, its government. But on Sunday, two German states — Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate — will elect their own state legislatures, each of which will then elect state-level governments in turn. These elections may provide some sense of the bigger national trends. Here’s what to look out for.

Coronavirus may not shake up politics as much as you’d think

Sunday’s elections coincide with the first anniversary of Germany’s first covid-19 lockdown. And things haven’t gone too well over the last year — the economy is struggling, the vaccine rollout has been slow, and some federal legislators in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right CDU/CSU camp are facing corruption charges over mask procurement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europe, but particularly France and Germany -- the two motor nations of the continent -- are holding their collective breath for the outcome of Tuesday's American presidential election. They recognize that the future of the trans-Atlantic relationship, the very nature of the Atlantic alliance, which has preserved the peace in Europe for three-quarters of a century, hangs in the balance.

However, there is a dawning recognition in both nations that some elements of a decades-long trans-Atlantic partnership may be all but irrevocably lost -- regardless of who wins in America next month.

There is considerable uncertainty both in Paris and Berlin as to just how much the United States can be trusted any more.…  Seguir leyendo »

Another CDU Leadership Race Begins in Merkel’s Shadow

Perhaps it will be second time lucky. At the end of April, Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) will elect a new party leader to follow in the footsteps of Angela Merkel. An emergency party congress has been summoned to do that after the surprise resignation of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merkel’s chosen successor.

The plan is to leave the decision on who will be the CDU candidate for chancellor at the next election until after Germany’s EU presidency concludes in December. So Merkel will keep her job until 2021, and the new leader will have to learn to live with her.

The three leading candidates are Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen, all from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Austria's first green-tinged government -- comprising the Austrian People's Party and the Austrian Green Party -- broke ground in the Alpine state earlier this month. Not only is the environmentalist Green Party in a national government for the first time, but the coalition's agenda will make Austria a trailblazer in climate protection. Germany's next general election, scheduled for 2021, however, might yield an even bigger bombshell: a Green chancellor for the first time in post-war continental Europe.

Indeed, the stars must line up for the party that embodies the environmental cause -- these days in the form of climate protection -- like no other in Germany.…  Seguir leyendo »

A flag is pictured in Erfurt during an Oct. 26 campaign event of Germany’s AfD. (Christof Stache/Afp Via Getty Images)

Germany held its last regional election of the year, in the eastern state of Thuringia, this past Sunday. The results followed a now-familiar pattern.

The two parties that form the national government — Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) — saw their combined vote share squeezed to 30 percent, a historic low for the two so-called “people’s parties.” The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) polled robustly, coming in at 23.4 percent. Throw in the 31 percent won by the Socialist Left Party (LP) and the results give mainstream politicians plenty to think about.…  Seguir leyendo »

A torn election campaign banner of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Saxony. (Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)

When the two eastern German states of Saxony and Brandenburg went to vote on Sunday, Germans held their breath fearfully. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition government had seemed fragile for months. In 2018, wrenching losses for her Christian Democrats (CDU) in two successive regional elections had caused her to step down as party head. A rout in this May’s European Parliament elections had led to the resignation of Andrea Nahles, leader of her coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), who are still struggling to find a replacement.

Would yet another drubbing for either or both parties be a death blow for the government?…  Seguir leyendo »

People hold a banner on Sept. 7, 2018, reading "We are the people" during a march organized by the right-wing populist "Pro Chemnitz" movement in Chemnitz, the flashpoint eastern German city that saw protests marred by neo-Nazi violence. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

In eastern Germany on Sunday, two populous states (or Bundesländer) will elect their regional legislatures — in votes that are quite important for German politics at large. For months, polls have shown the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) competing for first place both in Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin, and in Saxony, with Dresden and Leipzig as major cities.

While the AfD has significant support throughout Germany, the party is particularly strong in many of the neue Bundesländer, or new federal states, created in the territory of the former communist German Democratic Republic (GDR). Here’s what you need to know about Sunday’s vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chancellor Angela Merkl of Germany casting a ballot at the Bundestag earlier this month.CreditCreditFilip Singer/EPA, via Shutterstock

Women in Germany won the right to vote in 1918, but a century later they still do not enjoy equal representation. Though the country is led by a woman — who will, most likely, be succeeded by another woman — fewer than a third of the members of the federal Parliament, the Bundestag, are female.

That’s why leading figures from all major German parties are now calling for parity: a 50-50 quota for male and female representatives in the Bundestag and the 16 state-level Parliaments. But is achieving a gender balance in Germany’s legislatures worth weakening another hard-fought accomplishment, the right to free electoral choice?…  Seguir leyendo »


En la infinita colección de acontecimientos cotidianos, el periodista ejerce una difícil misión: fijarse en lo significativo y distinguirlo de lo que no lo es. ¿Cómo no equivocarse? Es grande la tentación de ver lo que hacen los demás y unirse a ellos en una especie de unanimidad sin riesgos. Si nos equivocamos, al menos no somos los únicos, lo que supone casi una exención de responsabilidad por adelantado.

Hace cincuenta años, cuando yo era el joven ayudante de un famoso director de un periódico parisino («France Soir»), este se burlaba de ese conformismo definiendo al periodista como «un tipo que lee los periódicos».…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sunday, about 9.5 million voters in southern Germany went to the polls to elect the Bavarian state parliament. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the liberal Greens had good nights — but the traditionally dominant forces in German politics, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, had nights to forget.

The result subsequently threw up a host of questions for Bavarian, German and broader European politics.

A peculiarity of German politics meant that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) wasn’t on the Bavarian ballot paper. Germany is made up of 16 states, and the CDU competes in 15 of them.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Allemagne, ce week-end, tous les regards étaient braqués sur la Bavière, une des plus grandes et riches régions du pays, où 9,5 millions de Bavarois, sur une population de treize millions d’habitants, étaient appelés à voter pour renouveler le parlement.

Avec la présence désormais de six partis au parlement et l’affaiblissement important des conservateurs et des sociaux-démocrates, qui forment la « grande coalition » au niveau fédéral, ces élections marquent la fin d’un modèle en Allemagne. Si la rupture n’est pas aussi profonde que celle vécue par la France en 2017, elle n’en demeure pas moins conséquente. La force de cohésion des grands partis a diminué outre-Rhin ces dernières années, mais plus lentement qu’ailleurs en Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Allemagne, ce week-end, tous les regards seront braqués sur la Bavière. Dimanche 14 octobre, les Bavarois choisiront un nouveau parlement et un nouveau gouvernement. Ces élections régionales auront probablement un retentissement bien plus vaste : elles vont marquer la fin d’un modèle et le début d’une nouvelle ère pour le système des partis outre-Rhin.

Dans cette région surtout connue pour sa fête de la bière, l’Oktoberfest – où les festivités ont réuni jusqu’au week-end dernier des millions de bavarois et de touristes du monde entier, en Lederhose [culotte de peau courte traditionnelle bavaroise] et en Dirndl [robe traditionnelle bavaroise] –, l’ambiance est à la fête dans la région : le taux de chômage est à 2,8 %, l’économie est dynamique, les salaires élevés et les caisses de l’Etat bavarois excédentaires.…  Seguir leyendo »

"Una gran coalición, por muy teutona y gigantesca que sea, siempre es una alianza de perdedores. No obstante, la nobleza de la democracia estriba en la capacidad de convertir esa fatal derrota en una victoria incuestionable". Angela Merkel parece haber interiorizado mejor que nadie estas palabras del canciller Helmut Schmidt, que también sabía que ese ejercicio de prestidigitación política estaba reservado sólo para uno de los perdedores, es decir, para el propio canciller. Al otro, al socio de la coalición, le aguarda el desgaste, la decadencia y el cataclismo. Esa ley no escrita del sistema parlamentario alemán permitió que Merkel hiciese todo tipo de dolorosas concesiones con tal de que los socialdemócratas entraran en el gobierno, regalándoles no sólo los preciados ministerios de Finanzas, Asuntos Exteriores y Trabajo, sino un desmesurado peso específico que en ningún caso refleja el 20,5 % de los votos que el SPD obtuvo en las pasadas elecciones generales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angela Merkel on Tuesday, at the first Bundestag session since the collapse of government coalition talks. Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It was the most preposterous mic drop in German history. On Sunday night, after 56 days of four-party talks on forming a coalition government, the pro-business Free Democratic Party abruptly pulled out of the negotiations, effectively ending them.

Germany’s parliamentary democracy is a system with compromise in its DNA — so when Germans awoke to the news Monday morning, they were shocked. Such a failure is a challenge to Germany’s new role in the world. And it is yet another example of the dangerous political absolutism sweeping the world’s democracies.

In the national election of Sept. 24, six parties earned enough votes to get seated in the Bundestag — most notably, the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party, known as AfD.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jens Spahn at the Bundestag in Berlin last month. Having served in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Spahn has a keen sense for Germany’s economic, political and financial entanglement with the world. Credit Clemens Bilan/European Pressphoto Agency

Ever since Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats lost five million voters to the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany in September, mainstream German conservatives have been in a panic. This is not just the usual blame game after a major electoral setback. It’s a long-simmering crisis finally boiling over — and Ms. Merkel is at the heart of it.

The past decades have put conservatism in Germany to an existential test. The grand currents of contemporary history in the Western world have smashed the shrine of its principles. Globalization and migration challenged the Christian Democrats’ embrace of a German “Leitkultur,” the notion that there is a single, coherent “leading culture.”…  Seguir leyendo »

German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to welcome Georgia’s prime minister in September. (AFP/Getty Images)

Before Germany’s  Sept. 24 federal election, observers often commented that its economy was “firing on all cylinders.” GDP growth will likely exceed 2 percent in 2017, the strongest rate in half a decade. Unemployment levels are at their lowest since German unification in 1990.

Yet the strength of the German economy did not seem to help Chancellor Angela Merkel at the polls, as her Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) received only 33 percent of the vote — their worst result since 1949 and an 8.5 percentage point drop in support from the previous election in 2013.

This might come as quite a puzzling outcome, because the state of the economy and election results are supposed to be closely related.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alexander Gauland y Alice Weidel, líderes de Alternativa para Alemania (AfD), en septiembre en una declaración ante los medios. JOHN MACDOUGALL (AFP)

Unas semanas después de las elecciones, Alemania todavía se encuentra estupefacta. No ya por el hecho de que todos los socios de la Gran Coalición (CDU, CSU y SPD) gobernante entre 2013-2017 hayan sido duramente castigados por los votantes. Tampoco se debe a que Angela Merkel tenga problemas para formar Gobierno tras su agridulce victoria. La raíz del desconcierto radica en la impetuosa entrada del partido de extrema derecha Alternativa para Alemania (AfD) en el Bundestag, el parlamento federal alemán. A continuación nos centramos en dos áreas clave para analizar y comprender las implicaciones del éxito electoral de la fuerza ultraderechista: primero, el marco institucional, y en segundo lugar, la campaña electoral y las características del votante de la AfD.…  Seguir leyendo »

El resultado de las recientes elecciones federales alemanas fue inesperado y preocupante, al menos para los estándares del país. Los dos partidos principales, el Socialdemócrata (SPD) y la Unión Demócrata Cristiana (CDU), junto a su partido hermano bávaro, la Unión Social Cristiana (CSU), recibieron el castigo de las urnas después de haber gobernado durante los últimos cuatro años como una gran coalición liderada por la canciller Angela Merkel.

El SPD obtuvo su peor resultado en unas federales desde las primeras celebradas en la República Federal en 1949. De igual modo, la alianza CDU/CSU tuvo su segundo peor desempeño desde 1949, y la CSU sufrió la peor derrota electoral de su historia.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Si se alía con los liberales, estoy muerto”. Esta fue la confesión de Emmanuel Macron pocos días antes de las elecciones alemanas. En efecto, gran parte de las esperanzas para la reforma europea pasaban por un final satisfactorio del ciclo electoral de 2017 en Alemania, después de la derrota de Le Pen en Francia, de Wilders en Holanda y de Höfer en Austria. Absorbido el shock del Brexit y la victoria de Trump, el nuevo curso político europeo debía abrirse con el impulso de un motor franco-alemán renovado, con una Angela Merkel revalidada en las urnas y las propuestas de Macron para la reforma de la UE y la zona euro.…  Seguir leyendo »

Workers remove an election poster of the Christian Democrats with a photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 after Sunday’s parliament elections. Merkel faces a complicated quest to form a new government for Europe’s biggest economy and find answers to the rise of a nationalist, anti-migrant party. (Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP)

In Germany’s federal election last month, the Liberals (FDP) more than doubled their vote share to 10.7 percent. Post-election analysis has focused primarily on the losses of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the rise of the anti-immigration, new national conservative party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).

There’s another story here — the CDU actually lost more voters to the Liberals than the AfD, and the FDP was also a clear winner in this election. What does this tell us about shifting party loyalties, and what happens now? Our research gives some clues.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which had its worst electoral result in postwar German history, quickly announced that it would not be part of another Grand Coalition with CDU.…  Seguir leyendo »