German Federal Elections 2021
Olaf Scholz is the winner of the election. Will he also become Chancellor? That will only be decided in the coming weeks following complicated coalition negotiations.
Why is this? The Chancellor in Germany is elected by parliamentary majority. How someone achieves this majority is left to his or her own negotiating skills. Unlike in many other countries, a president does not task a single figure with forming a government. Several ways of reaching this majority are possible. Therefore, the coming weeks will see a confusing political bazaar with price negotiations, teaser offers, concessions, deceptive manoeuvres and the all-important evenings spent discussing politics in the political Kneipen (“pubs”) of Berlin. The outcome remains open.
The only thing that is certain at this point is that the CDU/CSU, quasi the state party in Germany, has suffered a historic defeat. After 16 years of Angela Merkel's reign, many voters want to see the party in opposition. But they will resist this and try to form a majority in the Bundestag.
The Greens are also election winners. They have almost doubled their election result compared with 2017. This reflects the increased awareness of climate change among broad sections of the population. Most people in Germany want faster steps towards a climate-neutral economy and society.
The Liberals (FDP) are once again playing a strong role and will join forces in a new government for economic renewal and technological development. Together with the Greens, they will decide whether the Christian Democrats or the Social Democrats will make the Chancellor.
The right-wing populists from the AfD are occupied with internal trench warfare. Divided between openly radical right-wing forces and a conservative-bourgeois wing, their influence on public debate has noticeably declined. They remain a pure protest party.
The equally marked decline in the clout of the Left (Die Linke) in Germany is reflected in their weak election results. Their aging voter base from the former German Democratic Republic is shrinking with each passing year. A new force is emerging, a student left that has nothing to do culturally with the former cadres of the GDR state party. The internally torn party will not become part of a government at federal level – it can be lucky that it is still part of the new parliament at all.