The resignation of Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Andrea Nahles reaches way beyond the boundaries of German social democracy. It strips bare the German political landscape as we got to know it.
Ever since the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany after WWII, the two largest parties, or ‘Volkspartei’, the CDU and SPD, laid the ground of the German political landscape. Depending on the elections, they would alternate, build a coalition and name a chancellor.
“In Germany’s consensus-oriented political system, governing in coalitions is a matter of course,” political analyst Arne Jungjohann wrote in his recently released study “German Greens in coalition governments.”
And the German Greens make no exception. The erosion of the classic boundaries between the left and right camp makes the development in the federal states particularly interesting for coalition research, Jungjohann continued, meaning it has left the door open for smaller parties such as the German Greens to build up their forces.
Which they successfully did, as we now come to understand it. Thanks to the coalition-building process, the German Greens have succeeded in taking over governmental responsibility in the majority of the 16 German federal states, Jungjohann also writes.
The Greens are in ten state governments in seven varying coalition constellations, the political analyst pointed out.
In four cases, the Greens are governing with Social Democrats in a classic red-green coalition, the former centre-left coalition of choice of both parties and their electorates. In two cases, the Greens entered into a coalition with the Christian Democrats.
That means the Green party has gone beyond only promoting its own political agenda, they have long entered a role in which they take responsibility, with the Greens also to be found in numerous city councils.
In other words, German voters have had the opportunity over the past decade or so to experience what it means to deal with Greens representatives at the local and regional levels. Now, for the first time, the possibility is there for the Greens to have a crack at naming their own Chancellor.
What seemed like an illusion before, all of a sudden became a possibility after Andreas Nahles’ resignation.
Indeed, what is to happen should it actually come to early parliamentary elections this year, as is already rumoured? Neither the SPD nor the CDU/CSU currently have a majority, nor a convincing top staff. And neither party has an electoral programme that offers answers to citizens’ current concerns.
By Alexandra Brzozowski
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Look out for…
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Views are the author’s
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski and Zoran Radosavljevic]