Fri Sep 24th, 2021 at 08:46:08 PM EST
Next Sunday, September 26, German voters will renew their Federal parliament, the Bundestag.
Angela Merkel, aka Mutti, aka the Queen of Europe, is retiring after 16 years at the helm as Federal Chancellor, so this is a momentous event, not only for Germany but for the all or Europe.
There are (most likely) two possible names for her replacement: Olaf Scholz from the SPD or Armin Laschet from the CDU, Merkel's party.
Present polls, for what it's worth:
SPD - Socialist Party (symbol color: red): 25%
CDU & CSU (Bavaria) - Christian Democrats (symbol color: black): 21%
Die Grünen - Greens (symbol color: green, obviously): 16 %
FDP - Liberal Party (symbol color: yellow): 11%
AfD - Extreme Right (symbol color: blue): 11%
Die Linke - The Left (symbol color: purple): 6%
The Bundestag seats are assigned in proportion to the votes received, so the nationwide percentage should match more or less the number of seats won by each party, but there is a threshold of 5% of the vote to get any seat at all, and there are other rules that I couldn't possibly explain, but may result in a number of extra seats that cannot be known in advance.
No party is expected to win an outright majority of seats by itself, so there will be yet another coalition government. The current Grand Coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD is not expected to last into the next term, but everything is possible. The German media are generally describing the possible party combinations using each party's symbol color: black for CDU, red for SPD and so on... Some of the possible coalitions are:
GroKo: the present coalition between the CDU/CSU and SPD, as unlikely as it is: a lot of bad blood between the parties.
Jamaica, after the Jamaican flag colors: CDU (black), FDP (yellow) and the Greens.
Traffic light: SPD (red), FDP (yellow) and the Greens.
Kenya, after the Kenyan flag colors: CDU (black), SPD (red) and the Greens.
RGR (red-green-red), this one getting together the SPD (Red), the Greens and The Linke (purple)
Once the elections are over, it is expected that coalition talks will take quite a bit of time before a government - and Merkel successor - is agreed upon, several weeks at least, if not months. As it is the custom in German politics, a coalition contract detailing each and every minute detail of each element of policy, which party gets which position, will be drafted, reviewed and finally signed by the future coalition members.
The next Federal Chancellor
Since the Socialists are leading in the polls, the front-runner to succeed Merkel at the chancellorship is Olaf Scholz, the head of the SPD, and, interestingly enough, the present German Finance minister in the Federal government headed by Angela Merkel, thanks to the famous GroKo, the Große Koalition currently in power.
Armin Laschet, the CDU candidate, is not as widely appreciated by the German voters, despite Merkel's best efforts to support him, and his party is trailing the SPD in the polls.
Green party's Annalena Baerbock is another possibility, but with the Greens likely to end up in third place, it is unlikely they will secure the chancellorship, despite having peaked above the CDU and SPD in the polls last spring.
In any case, the environment, such as the controversial development of coal mines, and climate issues, following the catastrophic floodings last summer, are expected to gain more prominence, even with the aging German population.
What consequences for Europe?
Obviously, the departure of a major figure like Merkel in Europe's biggest economy and most populated country, will mark the end of an era, to use a tired cliché.
While coalition talks may take weeks, if not months, before a new German cabinet is eventually put in place, it is expected that Macron, the ambitious French president, will somehow take Merkel's lead in the EU27 - or at least, will try to.
The new government may also change some of the Merkel era's political positions, such as a delicate balance between the USA (who have a major military presence in Germany), Russia (with the NordStream 2 gas pipeline just completed) and China, the major export market for the German industry.