Not that the Brandenburg Gate has suddenly collapsed on German politics. Since the time of Konrad Adenauer – the first chancellor of the new Federal Republic of Germany – coalition governments have succeeded one another not on a whim but by the deliberate design of a political system based on the painful lessons learned by the Germans from their darkest past.
The novelty is that for the first time a tripartite agreement will be needed to sustain the next German government. A trinity that, as planned, will be made up of Greens, Liberals and Social Democrats. This confirms the irony that although the candidate most similar to Chancellor Merkel has won in the recent elections, her Christian Democratic party has won.
the worst results in its history.
For twelve of the sixteen years of the Merkel era, Social Democrats and Christian Democrats have ruled in a grand coalition. A distribution of power that is always doubly problematic for the minority partner: difficulty to be recognized for the successes and easy to be held responsible for the failures. Without forgetting that the party that obtains the most votes does not always end up leading a new government.
Since the so-called “zero hour”, Germany has revolved around two major unifying parties, known as Volksparteien (people’s parties). These great formations were oriented to add, not to divide and, above all, to avoid the terrible fragmentation and polarization suffered during the Weimar Republic. In this great backbone effort, the Christian Democrats served as a hitching flag for Catholics, Protestants, Liberals and a number of other groups destined to form a large center-right bloc. While the Social Democrats abandoned the Marxism of their origins, they assumed the German model of the social market economy and became binders of the center-left.
In practice, Germany’s electoral rules tend to force government coalitions, punishing without seats extreme options that do not reach a minimum of 5% of the vote cast. The result is a democracy in permanent search for consensus.