Home / Sezioni / capitali / What are the lessons of the German election?

facebook-link twitter-link


Registrati alla newsletter di sbilanciamoci.info


Ultimi link in questa sezione

Why we must end upward pre-distribution to the rich
How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis
Solo lo spirito del Dopoguerra potrà salvarci dalla crisi eterna
The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation
La Grecia, le riforme e il giallo della tabella
Basic Income Pilots: A Better Option Than QE
Le coup de force inadmissible et irresponsable de la BCE contre la Grèce

What are the lessons of the German election?


The result of the German election 2013 was noteworthy in many respects and will produce aftershocks for years to come. A close look at the numbers suggests that all parties apart from the CDU/CSU are facing structural problems. The Green party as well as Die Linke have suffered significant losses and are now in single digit territory. In the case of the FDP, the losses were so severe that they even failed to re-enter parliament. But also the SPD, even though the party gained 2.7%, seems to be struggling.

It is a wide-spread analysis that the major reason for why the SPD suffered its worst result since World War II in 2009 was its participation in the grand coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel. This explanation, however, is too superficial. If it was just the party’s participation in the 2005-2009 government, one would have expected a much more pronounced recovery in opposition. This, however, has not happened. The modest gains of 2.7 percentage points cannot obscure the fact that this is the second worst result of the SPD in any federal election since World War II. This clearly suggests that the problems run much deeper than just a spell in government together with the conservatives.


The election result also clearly shows that the reading of Angela Merkel’s electoral strategy as “asymmetric demobilisation” was wrong. Overall voter turnout has increased, not declined; hardly the sign of a demobilisation campaign! Her success is much easier to explain. She has taken any political polarisation away by reverse-engineering the social democratic third way strategy. Similar to what Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder did in the 1990s and 2000s, she has adopted the most popular policies of her political opponents – at least rhetorically. This has helped her to avoid any political confrontation on divisive issues. Taking the politics out of an election campaign in this way leaves you with people and the general circumstances as decisive factors. And both these categories were clearly in her favour.


She has known for years that her calm and humble character is popular with the German population and the economic circumstances in Germany are also quite good. The country is the growth engine of Europe, unemployment is at record lows, and most people seem satisfied with their lives – even though there are still significant problems in the labour market and elsewhere. Against this backdrop, all Angela Merkel had to do was to suggest that the only thing Germany needs is a steady pair of hands; her hands. This strategy has worked.

Read more