Saturday, October 16

The German center-right cracks after the historic defeat in the elections

After the historic defeat it suffered in the national elections on Sunday, the center-right alliance of the outgoing Chancellor, Angela Merkel, shows signs of division: the leader of the Bavarian Social Christian Union (CSU), Markus Söder, publicly congratulated this Tuesday to the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Olaf Scholz, for his victory.

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The prominent member of the CSU, Merkel’s sister party to Merkel’s CDU in Bavaria, has said that Scholz is the top favorite to become Germany’s next chancellor. His statements contradicted those of Armin Laschet, of the CDU / CSU coalition, which still sees the possibility of forming a “future-oriented coalition.” In Laschet’s view, the difference in the votes obtained by the two parties – 25.7% for the SPD, compared to 24.1% for the Conservatives – is too small to grant a clear mandate.

“Olaf Scholz is the one with the best chance of being chancellor,” said Söder, “that is crystal clear.” Söder has recognized the triumph of the center-left candidate, who until now has been the country’s finance minister and vice chancellor. “It is important to respect the result,” said Söder, who had a hard internal pulse with Laschet at the beginning of the year. “That I congratulate Olaf Scholz once again is part of that.”

Finally, Laschet has congratulated his Social Democratic rival in a letter that, according to press reports, reached its destination on Wednesday. The Conservative leader had been criticized for avoiding that step. Merkel did so on Monday, according to the government spokesman.

“You lost, it’s over”

The result turned out to be tighter than many conservatives feared during the campaign, but growing dissent within the CDU is dampening Laschet’s hopes of keeping his party in power.

Laschet’s desire to form a government has been questioned in the party, whose joint parliamentary group consists of 196 deputies, and there are voices that consider that the two groups should go to the opposition after having the worst result in their history.

Laschet’s future

It remains unclear what Laschet’s new role in Berlin will be. The conservative candidate informed the party leaders meeting in Düsseldorf that at the end of October he would resign as Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia.

In Berlin, the CDU leaders have elected their leader in the new Parliament, who will be the most powerful position within the party if the Conservatives end up in opposition. He will remain Ralph Brinkhaus, but only for the next six months, according to German media.

Laschet’s plan was to occupy the position of leader in Parliament only temporarily, while hoping to remain the one that forms the next government, but faced resistance from Brinkhaus, a member of the CDU currently in office.

“The failed candidate has set up a strange alternate world,” he wrote. Der sppiegel in an opinion piece. “Maybe Armin Laschet will need a couple more days to get it right. He lost. It’s over.”

Ellen Demuth, a CDU delegate in the Rhineland-Palatinate regional parliament, called for Laschet’s resignation on Twitter, arguing that holding on to office will cause further damage to the party.

Greens and liberals together

Meanwhile, the triumphant SPD is accelerating steps to start coalition talks with the FDP and the Greens, the two parties holding the key to the next government.

The pro-business formation and the ecologist have already had a first meeting to try to establish common points and overcome differences in the face of a government program with one of the two major parties. Its leaders met on Tuesday night, ahead of schedule, and made it public with a selfie.

There is likely to be a new balance of power within the ranks of the Greens. According to the local press, it is possible that his co-leader, Robert Habeck, is the one who asks for the position of vice chancellor in a future coalition government instead of Annalena Baerbock, who in the electoral campaign was presented as the candidate of the Greens to the chancellery.

Baerbock beat Habeck in the race to become a candidate in April, and has managed to get her party to get 5.9 points more than in the 2017 elections, but did not manage to make it the largest force, as she had proposed.

Habeck on Tuesday sidestepped questions about an agreement on his possible appointment as vice chancellor (an unofficial title that does not appear in the German constitution). “The question of who will be vice chancellor is irrelevant,” he said. “We don’t even have a chancellor.”

According to the latest polls, one in two German citizens is in favor of the next government being formed by the so-called “traffic light” coalition of SPD, Greens and the FDP. Only a quarter of the respondents said they prefer “Jamaica”, led by the CDU. Continuing with the “grand coalition” that has ruled Germany for the past eight years is unpopular: in a poll by Civey, only 5% of those surveyed prefer it.

Translated by Francisco de Zárate.

This article has been updated with the latest information available on the Government negotiations by the editorial staff of

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