Wednesday, October 20, 2021

When Germany is broke, voters turn to the ‘softest’ of Merkel’s brand

Click here for additional coverage of this story from Berlin. After over 40 years in office, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support is waning. While she leads the center-right CDU with a party-list majority, she only has a plurality of the votes in the Bundestag. In 2009, she was first elected with 27.6% of the votes. But a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found her support at a slim 30%. Historically,

Merkel’s CDU has often been considered the natural heir of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s CDU-CDU, Social Democratic Party (SPD) coalition after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. But after her party-led coalition failed to control the Bundestag in the 2008 election, her broad-based coalition has seen its popularity wane. View the infographic in a larger window. Meanwhile, the SPD (which Merkel left behind) has found

its strength in negotiations to form a coalition government with the Greens. The crucial swing vote in the Greens’ parliamentary leader Beatrix von Storch’s ‘grand coalition with the SPD’ status is her elderly voters, the former SPD voters who shun much of Merkel’s overall agenda. To take on their former party after 30 years in power, the Greens effectively pulled a ‘vote Trump’. von Storch, after initially resisting

her party’s shift left, came out firmly in support of Trump’s presidency as well as his gut-wrenching tariffs. The political sideshow only strengthened her ratings as well. “Don’t put brakes on globalism, which is just fine if it leads to prosperity for all,” von Storch said in front of a reporter at her recent party conference. View the photo gallery in a larger window. And Germany’s other centrist party, the Free

Democrats (FDP), has a similar, if less dramatic shift in public opinion. Thanks to its stronger electoral showing in 2013, it is finally a viable political option for a coalition with the SPD, either in the coalition or opposition. The FDP almost caused a split within Merkel’s CDU party last month after it refused to back an internal anti-corruption commission, forcing it to scrap its leadership election. View the

infographic in a larger window. That was the first sign for pundits that, although her party would continue to be the largest party in parliament, Merkel’s reign as Chancellor would be coming to an end. Her coalition in 2013 included the FDP, SPD, and Green parties, which helped her negotiate the 2013 coalition. Now she has to take on three parties to gain her third mandate. Back in 2009, Merkel played the Bloc-Plus-

Pastors Union coalition for the maximum political benefit, forming a post-holiday alliance with German President Joachim Gauck’s SPD. But if Merkel wants to win back the sizable majority she once enjoyed, she’ll have to get her party in line and convince its old-guard supporters that they should support her more right-wing agenda on issues such as immigration, security, and security demands in the current coalition

agreement. >> RELATED: Germans want ‘Softer Merkel’ — and that just isn’t going to happen.

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