The remarkably stable consensus politics that have ruled Germany for many decades are falling apart. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
It’s hard to overstate the importance of the election results last weekend in Thuringia. The complete collapse of the two centrist parties there, Angela Merkel’s CDU and the Social Democrats (SPD), is looking like a harbinger of what comes next in German politics.
A majority in Thuringia, ruled by the CDU since the early 1990’s until 2014 when Die Linke took over with the Social Democrats and the Greens, just voted against the centrist, Merkelist, grand coalition of standing for nothing but globalism and tighter EU integration.
Die Linke and Alternative for Germany (AfD) secured more than 54% of the total vote. Die Linke, the remnant of the East German Communist Party, and AfD, the new face of anti-immigration and fiscally responsible Germans, took first and second place ahead of Merkel’s CDU.
(source Wikipedia via Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik)
Whereas in 2014, Die Linke could form a government with the SPD and the Greens, today they cannot, falling 4 seats short of a majority, and the Greens barely beat the 5% threshold for representation. Had they not the coalition calculus would be unsolvable.
It is just as bad for Merkel and the CDU as they categorically refuse to ally with AfD in any capacity. So, there is no easy path to a government in Thuringia. The path is just as bad in Brandenburg which voted in September.
In both cases massive cartel-style coalitions will be needed, four parties, to cobble together a majority because all have refused to entreat with AfD. Lower Saxony will likely retain its current coalition between Merkel’s CDU, the SPD and the Greens after their election last month.
These results all highlight where things are headed in Germany, namely against making promises to everyone and eventually reneging on them, which is Merkel’s legacy. As Alexander Mercouris at The Duran pointed out the other day, Merkel’s operating principle is one of holding the line on the status quo regardless of the real changes happening around her.
That has created a meta-stable environment which looks like it never loses on the surface but is teetering on collapse with every new development.
She’s done this with every major policy decision of the past five years, trying desperately to keep the European project on the narrow path forward. But in trying to keep things as they are, she’s let things go to hell back home.
And it may finally be time for Angela Merkel to leave the political stage.
The state elections this fall in Germany have been nothing short of a disaster for Merkel. Think back to the fall of 2017 and how hard it was for her to put a coalition together. I prematurely called for the end of Merkelism. The problems she’s facing now were just as acute then. but she chose to paper them over with yet another disastrous coalition with the Social Democrats.
The one thing I got right back then was their collapse. They were in free fall then and this has continued to today where they took just 8% of the vote in Thuringia. They lost their majority in the stronghold of Rhineland-Westphalia in 2017 and that was your harbinger of bad news at the national level later that year.
What’s clear is that political opinions about the future of Germany are hardening away from what Merkel has been selling and it will come to a head in the near future.
The SPD has a party congress in December and with these election results along with the national level polling seeing the Greens rise dramatically, Merkel presides over a zombie Bundestag that no more accurately represents the popular opinion in Germany than the parliaments in Italy and the United Kingdom do.
And in the U.K. it took herculean efforts by Boris Johnson to finally get a general election through the miasma of suck that is the British and European political classes, which no more want to see a real Brexit than decent people want to see Hillary Clinton as U.S. President.
The SPD didn’t want to join another coalition with Merkel in 2017 and after Thuringia there is every expectation that they will finally end the association with her once and for all. And a general election can’t be far behind. The problem with this line of thinking, unfortunately, is that there is no appetite for new elections in Germany.
They are simply not used to this kind of political turmoil.
Moreover, no one in the Eurocratic class wants to see Merkel exit the stage in abject defeat. So, immense pressure will be placed on SPD leadership to hang with Merkel, just like it was applied to them in late 2017 to form the coalition.
But with Germany entering recession Merkel has already signaled that if she has to go back to the polls she’s ready to make a deal with the Greens with her recent concessions on renewable energy projects and more sops to them.
Current polling has the Greens, however, on the downside of their popularity, having peaked during the European elections at 25% and are now polling down at 22%. And, again, they, like AfD, are more regionally powerful than they are at the national level.
Meanwhile the SPD, nationally, is in a horse race with AfD at around 14%. The longer the SPD stays below the magic 16% level the more likely they are to sink into complete irrelevance as they have in Thuringia.
So, if the SPD pulls the plug on the coalition the results of any election in early 2020 won’t likely be any more conclusive than the last one. More likely than an election, Merkel will simply step down as leader of the CDU and the coalition will try to limp along until 2021.
But the reality is that the global financial system is teetering on the edge of an abyss. Central Banks like the Fed and the ECB are panicking into major liquidity moves before any real threats have made it into the headlines.
And why is that, unless things are truly far worse than anyone is willing to admit. How long are we until a Deutsche Bank collapse?
All we’re waiting for right now is a catalyst. The EU needs to manage their change in power smoothly to keep markets reassured. But the signs of a major problem are everywhere. All it takes is a spark.
Because all three of these state elections highlight the huge split between what were West and East Germanies during the Cold War. And that functional split in political thinking is only going to get worse until it is expressed by the ruling government.
And if Merkel continues to stand in the way of that at some point she’s going to get run over by the force of history.
Both Die Linke and AfD share important fundamental criticisms of the EU as well as with Merkel’s foreign policy. Both are backed by voters who heavily support withdrawal of U.S. troops from their country. And both are opposed broadly to Merkel’s disenfranchising voters via her mass immigration policy.
Moreover, both want normalization of relations with Russia. And with the completion of the Nordstream 2 pipeline and Ukraine’s acceptance of the “Steinmeyer Formula” for resolving conflict in the Donbass, political pressure is mounting for an end to EU sanctions as Merkel has been the person most committed to keeping them until these conditions were met.
To save herself in the near term look for her to promise lifting the sanctions to stave off her final demise. The stage is now set for this sometime in 2020.
And while we’ll never see the kind of Euroskeptic alliance between AfD and Die Linke like we saw in Italy last year, as economic conditions in Germany deteriorate and Merkel is blamed for it, rightfully so, these areas of policy agreement set the stage for a ripping apart at the seams of the German political fabric.