Almost two weeks on, the results of the agonisingly close German election are settling down. Talks have begun between the centre-left Social Democrats on the one hand and the Greens and the free-market Free Democrats on the other. The likely outcome will be a so-called “traffic light” coalition: red (the SPD), yellow (the FDP) and green. The SPD candidate, Olaf Scholz, will succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor.
Merkel’s centre-right CDU/CSU alliance, meanwhile, is in disarray, with its lead candidate, Armin Laschet, blamed for a lacklustre campaign and squandering not only an election that looked to be his to win but – worse – the whole Merkel bequest. If it once seemed that his better-than-expected performance on election day might have given him a shot at forming a coalition, that looks an even more remote prospect now than it did then.
Not that it will be easy for Scholz to form a coalition. The Greens stand very far to the left on social and economic issues, while the FDP defends low taxes and the interests of business, especially small business. In the end, the direction of Germany’s new government will not be entirely clear until the policy compromises have been hammered out and the government portfolios have been distributed.
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