The German Voters Have Spoken. What Have They Said?

The editors of the Wall Street Journal delve into that very question today:

Exit polls Sunday evening showed a race too close to call, although perhaps with a slight edge for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). They and Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU and Bavarian sister CSU) each have won roughly a quarter of the votes. Whichever of the two manages to form a government, it will be a choice voters have made without much evident conviction.

And with whom will that “winner” govern? The Greens came in a strong third with an estimated 15%, with the free-market Free Democrats (FDP) at 11% and quasi-communist Left waddling in at 5%. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), at about 10%, lost ground compared to 2017’s 13% finish.

Because theirs is not a “first past the post” system as ours is, now the wrangling begins:

The possible coalition combinations are endless, and so are the policy outcomes. The SPD and CDU/CSU could reconstitute their current “grand coalition,” and perhaps voters would be happy with four more years of the status quo. Or the CDU/CSU could form an awkward coalition with the Greens and FDP.

Or the SPD could govern with the Greens and the FDP in a government that might pursue more aggressive environmental goals while limiting tax increases. Or the SPD, Greens and Left could form a left-wing government with heavier taxation but the tougher line on Russia and China that the Greens favor.


Whoever ends up in charge, Berlin faces serious challenges over how to spur productive investment and innovation at home, absorb large migrant inflows, respond to mounting strategic threats from China and Russia, and maintain good relations with neighbors and the U.S.

As Germany settles in for lengthy coalition wrangling, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the parties and voters prefer a static status quo to a clear new direction.

Some of the possible coalitions are conspicuous by their absence. I will only point out that two of the “right” parties, the Christian Democrats (Merkel’s party) and the AfD, both lost ground yesterday while two of the “left” parties, the Social Democrats and the Greens, gained ground. But so did the “libertarian” Free Democrats.

The conclusion that the editors draw is only one of the possible conclusions. My speculation is that the CDU ran the wrong candidate for chancellor.

I plan to look around for some regional results, particularly in Bavaria and Saxony, because I think those are more important than the national ones.

3 comments… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    Germany is almost certainly going to end up with a hard-left, socialist government. It will double down on Germany’s inane environmental and energy policies, meaning a significant loss of its industrial base, and energy poverty for all Germans.

    Without Russian gas, Europe as a whole would suffer a deadly winter. Extremely high temperatures do not cause excess deaths; extremely low temperature do. Winter death rates are almost an order of magnitude greater than summer death rates. Nord Stream 2 while complete is still not licensed to operate, and the EU bureaucracy is still opposed to it.

    A socialist Germany has implications for NATO and Germany’s relationship with Russia, too. Germany will not leave NATO and ally itself with Russia, but it will certainly lean away from the former and towards the latter.

    It has been suggested at The Saker and other anti-American sites that the signing of the AUKUS submarine agreement means that the US and UK are giving up on NATO (they won’t leave) and consolidating their resources for the competition with China. Canada and New Zealand, also Five Eyes, are conspicuously missing from the agreement.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    At first glance, it looks like a grand coalition (SPD + CDU) or grand coalition+ (SPD + CDU + Greens + FDP) are most likely, followed by a 3 party coalition (SPD + Green + FDP) or (CDU + Green + FDP).

    In any case, I think the SPD candidate will likely be the next chancellor given only one of the combinations the CDU would be the largest coalition partner.

    The big takeaway is German politics is splintering (like most democracies outside of the US). The big 2 parties gathered only a 51% vote share (that must be the lowest ever).

  • Grey Shambler Link

    I’ve read German energy costs have up seven fold in the last few years.
    That happens here, it’s a gut punch. We, (6 now), can’t stay in our home.
    Heard the Germans have resorted to burning wood.
    Some years ago, the Lakota Sioux had to resort to burning recliners and coffee tables in the living rooms when their propane tanks tanked.
    We may live in interesting times yet

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