German eurosceptics cost Merkel her majority

You wouldn't know it from the lazy headlines, but the German election results are bad news for Angela Merkel, and also for David Cameron

It's not so great after all...
the commentator
On 23 September 2013 06:54

Well done Angela Merkel. The German Chancellor has just lost her centre-Right parliamentary majority. What? Wasn't this a "historic" third election victory for a woman now being widely compared to Margaret Thatcher? In one important sense that is true -- though not the comparison with Maggie Thatcher, which is tosh.

Merkel will almost certainly be Chancellor as her conservative bloc scored 41.5 percent of the vote, way ahead of anyone else. But in another important sense this is not a victory for Angela Merkel or the German Right at all. Her Free Democrat former partners in coalition failed to cross the five percent threshold necessary for parliamentary representation.

If you add up the votes among the parties that made it into parliament -- Social Democrats on 26 percent; Greens on 8.4 percent; Left party on 8.6 percent -- the Left has actually beaten the Right.

Merkel should still take the Chancellorship, but she will need the help of the Left in order to govern. We'll come to the compromises that will entail in a moment. First ponder this: the Free Democrats only failed to get into parliament by 0.2 percentage points. They got 4.8 percent. The new eurosceptic Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) -- another centre-Right party -- failed to get into parliament by 0.3 percentage points. They got 4.7 percent.

In other words, it can plausibly be argued that the AfD, which advocates Germany withdrawing from the euro, split a significant enough share of the centre-Right vote to cost Mrs. Merkel her majority and to dump the Free Democrats out of the Bundestag for the first time since the end of WWII. German eurosceptics have, thus, just had a dramatic impact on German politics.

The consequences of Mrs. Merkel's failure to secure a majority will also be felt in Britain. The Left-leaning parties are fanatically pro-EU, and adopt the highly authoritarian, uncompromising stance that goes with such a disposition. As a consequence, they will hardly be pushing the Chancellor in the direction of compromise in terms of repatriating powers to Britain in the manner that David Cameron wants.

Maybe that was pie in the sky anyway. But the hard fact is that David Cameron's job has just become a whole lot harder.

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