Politics in Germany in the Post-Merkel Era

The Story:

Elections took place in Germany on September 26. Angela Merkel, the incumbent Chancellor, is retiring, so this election was especially important as the event that might create the contours of post-Merkel politics. Merkel’s own party, the center-right Christian Democrats, lost ground, and the center-left Social Democrats, gained ground. The specific consequences of this shift will depend on the outcome of negotiations now underway between these two major parties and the smaller parties that one of them will eventually bring in as coalition partners.


The Green Party came in third and the Free Democratic Party fourth, both in total votes cast and in Bundestag seats won. These two parties are regarded as the likely kingmakers in the search for a coalition.

The two ‘kingmakers’ are very different from one another. The Greens, as one might imagine from the name, are an environmentalism centered party. The Free Democrats take views that might be considered “libertarian” in the United States. They advocate a lightening of the regulatory burden on business, and a privatization of some public functions.

The Thing to Know:

The Free Democrats signify themselves with the color yellow. That is convenient, because the most probable outcome is what Germans call a “traffic light” coalition: red, yellow, and green: social democrats, free democrats, and green.


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