Latest reports are that some progress has been made in coalition talks between
Germany’s two major political parties, the Christian Democrats and
Social Democrats. It looks as if, in the wake of 18 September’s
indecisive election, the German political class is heading down the road
of the worst possible outcome.

There’s general agreement that Germany needs some significant economic
reform. It’s an open question which of the major parties can be more
trusted to implement it, but either of them would be likely to do better
than a compromise position between the two. If the Liberals and the
Greens could only agree to back the same side – either one – such a
compromise would not be necessary, but the chances of that happening now
look slim.

A “grand coalition” will make the Left party (ex-communists and
disaffected Social Democrats) the major opposition, boosting its status
and credibility, and it will remove from the Greens the discipline of
being in government, pushing them closer to the Left. Neither seems like
a good omen for Germany’s future.

Talks between the CDU and SPD still have to resolve the question of who
will be chancellor. It’s possible that both leaders will stand aside for
a third candidate, or that they will settle on some sort of rotation –
the “Israeli option.” And the supplementary election in Dresden next
Sunday may yet throw a spanner in the works, since an unexpectedly good
performance there by either of the major parties could lead it to up its

Peter Fray

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