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German Elections 2017

Merkel faces tricky coalition talks after 'nightmare victory'

Protesters in Berlin after the parliamentary results were announced
Protesters in Berlin after the parliamentary results were announced RFI

The German ruling Christian Democrat party of Angela Merkel managed to cling to power, but gained only 32.9 percent of the vote. The SPD dropped to 20.5 percent while the extreme right wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) entered parliament with 12.6 percent and become the third largest party. It is also the first time since World War II that an extreme right wing party is back in Der Bundestag.

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Hundreds of people who gathered at Berlin Alexanderplatz, not far from the venue where the AFD is held its election night party chanted “Nazis 'raus,'  or 'Away with the Nazis”.

Berlin protests

Armed with slogans and banners attacking “Nazism, nationalism and racism”, people flocked to the square after the exit polls were published when the voting bureaus closed at 6 pm.

“I’m afraid to hear their speeches in the Bundestag,” says Thomas, a student. “That’s the reason why I’m here. We all know what they say. But they only ever said it in private [until  now].

“When they say it in the Bundestag, it will be bad for Germany and the world. All the other countries know our history and it’s not good.”

 

Anti AfD demo at Berlin Alexanderplatz, Germany
Anti AfD demo at Berlin Alexanderplatz, Germany Jan van der Made/RFI

Other protesters joined in. “I was quite sad about the results of the voting, because I’m afraid,” says Judith, another student.

“Not only for people who voted for the AfD, because they voted for what they stand for, but also  for people who cast protest votes; those how voted for them because they don’t agree with the current policy.”

In the CDU headquarters at the Konrad Adenauer Haus, there is a subdued atmosphere at the election night party. Party members are walking around with glasses of wine, chew on a pretzel, but look unhappy.

“It is the worst outcome,” says Matthew, a CDU member. “It is not acceptable that the CDU is losing, more than 10 percentage points, especially in the south. It means that Merkel’s policy is not the best in Europe with regard to the refugee crisis.

He expresses hope that “under a new coalition” chances to regain political terrain will be better.

CDU's problems

According to many within the CDU, the current “grand coalition” with the SDP of Martin Schulz didn’t work, because they had to make too many concessions.

An alternative would be the “Jamaika Koalition,” called after the colors of the Jamaican flag, Black, Yellow and Green, which represent the CDU, the Liberal FDP (that managed to get back in parliament after four years of absence) and the Greens.

But this may lead to problems too.

“I think it will be very difficult negotiations,” says Konstantinas Karagiannis, real estate developer working for Deutsche Bahn, who attends the CDU party.

“The Green party and the Yellow [Liberal FDP] party are opposite on many questions, and the key would be to find a solution for these two parties.”

A coalition with the Alternative für Deutschland is excluded.

“It’s unacceptable,” says Matthew. “We are a Christian party with Christian values, and the AfD as a right wing party that does not share these values.”

When the dust settled, representatives of the six parties that will now enter government were invited to debate on television.

Angela Merkel said she is still happy that they are the biggest party and that she will continue her cooperation with the CSU in the South.

But Martin Schulz of the SPD attacked Merkel immediately, saying that she had run an irresponsible campaign that only lead to polarization between the existing coalition partners.

Then the presenter asked to Jörg Meuthen who represented the Alternative für Deutschland, if he would continue his “shouting and populism” now his party will have over 90 seats in parliament.

Meuthen reacted by  was ready to be a serious opposition party and that it was it was nonsense to call them populists. The debate went on for two hours, but there was no clear conclusion.

It is clear, however, the the AfD will find itself alone in whatever opposition will be formed.

“They may be a very loud and noisy party,” says Mathew.

“But I don’t think they will function very well inside the parliament. They will have their deficits in parliamentarian work.

“So I am hoping that once the four years are up that they will lose thier seats in parliament.”

  • CDU/CSU Angela Merkel/Horst Seehofer 33%/246 seats
  • SPD Martin Schulz 20,5%/153 seats
  • AfD Jörg Meuthen, Frauke Petry, 12,6%/94 seats
  • FDP Christian Lidner, 10.7%/80 seats
  • Die Linke Katja Kipping, Bernd Riexinger 9,2%/69 seats
  • Grüne Cem Özdemir, Simone Peter 8.9%/67 seats.

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