Small Update: German federal elections 2009


Germany's government is a coalition of its two biggest parties, but the list of their common intents seem to be exhausted.

We'll have the next federal elections on September 27th.
The election will be for parliament seats. The parliament elects the Chancellor who chooses ministers - usually based on coalition agreement between high-ranking party officials including the chancellor.

Current poll results can be seen here.

You can find my description of the German party landscape here.

I took the simple average of the poll results for a quick look at the possible outcomes, the percentages are only rough estimates, of course:

A new "Große Koalition" (great coalition, like Merkel's) with CDU/CSU and SPD would gain 65%, but as mentioned before; it's pointless. They don't want to rule together any more, it would be a waste of time.

A "Jamaika Koalition" (Jamaica coalition) with CDU/CSU, Grüne and F.D.P. would be possible with 62%, but the Grüne don't want this.

A Schwarz-Gelbe Koalition (black-yellow coalition, like Kohl's) with CDU/CSU and F.D.P. would probably be possible at 52% and is the first choice for both parties. I think that it's also the most likely version.

An Ampelkoalition (traffic lights coalition) with SPD, Grüne and F.D.P. is equally possible at 52%, but the F.D.P. isn't enthusiastic about the other two parties.
It's my personal favourite.

A Schwarz-Grüne Koalition (black-yellow coalition) with CDU/CSU and Grüne might be possible at 48%, but the CDU/CSU prefers the F.D.P. and the Grüne aren't enthusiastic about CDU/CSU (CSU in particular) anyway.

A Rot-Gelbe Koalition (red-yellow coalition, like Schmidt's) with SPD and F.D.P. is unlikely at 42%, especially as the F.D.P. would prefer a coalition with the CDU/CSU.

A Rot-Grüne Koalition (red-green coalition, like Schröder's) with SPD and Grüne is quite unlikely at 38%, but it's the first choice of both parties.

A Rot-Rote Koalition (red-red coalition) with SPD and Die Linke is utterly unrealistic because of only 38% and because the SPD and Linke are enemies since the Linke sucked up the SPD's left wing and because the Linke is the far left wing, partially descendant of the Eastern German SED socialists.

Our election system eliminates (with exceptions) votes for parties who didn't get 5% of the total vote. This means that for example a 10% result in an election can lead to 10.5% of the parliament's votes for a party. I calculated accordingly in my examples above.

The "small" parties (greens, liberals, far left) are unusually strong at this time while the social democrats are unusually weak due tot he de-facto loss of their left wing to far left and greens. I'm not informed from where the many per cents of the liberals come from; maybe in part from the conservatives. The F.D.P. is about twice as strong as usual after eleen years of opposition and quite unliberal policies.

The relevance for defence affairs is - as always - unclear.
One of the two ruling parties will continue to rule, and both are committed to the present foreign policy (CDU: chancellor, SPD: foreign minister and candidate for chancellor).

The Grüne (greens) would be an influence towards less funding for and use of the military as they claim to be pacifist, but their behaviour in the Schröder government questions this entirely.

The CDU is a bit more pro-USA than the SPD, but the difference is quite subtle (as in domestic policies as well).

Additional overseas commitments are quite unlikely with all coalition variants.

The F.D.P. would be a cornerstone for citizen rights protection, albeit its top politicians (especially its chairman) are in my opinion quite questionable - and unknown variables in governments, as they left the government with the end of Kohl's coalition eleven years ago.

The election campaign season will be during summer and it may be that a lot of proposed laws may be delayed till after the elections (I hope so).

Sven Ortmann


  1. If the CDU or FDP don't get enough votes to get them over the top there would almost have to be an "ampelkoalition", as I don't see the greens or the SPD forming a government with the CDU, and if the SPD is serious about not wanting die Linke in government then the FDP and the greens are the only option. I think if anything the CDU's support will decrease because they're the most visibly responsible party if things continue to be bad economically. Disaffection among economically motivated conservatives with the CDU is probably what has inflated the FDP's poll numbers so much, and that trend is likely to continue. If the CDU loses votes to the FDP only it won't matter much, but you can be sure that there are at least some CDU voters going SPD, green, or not at all. It'll definitely be an interesting time for me to be in Germany.

  2. Well, perhaps we'll see a FDP defence minister and get rid of Koch's trainee. Concerning our defence policy there are only a few credible and competent politicians in germany and none of them are Union, SPD oder Linke.

  3. A very interesting posts (this one and the possible coalition post).

    Can you sum up the changes in government policies (both domestic and foreign relations) that would exist under the different coalitions.

  4. Now that's the problem. The differences are subtle.

    We have currently four unacceptable ministers, all are CDU/CSU; interior, families, economy and defence.
    It's three times a problem of lacking competence and twice a problem of lacking respect for freedom.

    Our present foreign minister is the SPD candidate for chancellor - the F.D.P. chairman would likely get that position in any government involving that party (F.D.P. usually gets foreign and justice secretaries plus some others). That chairman is a lot of hot air and words with little competence outside of TV discussions in my opinion.

    The foreign policy difference between SPD and CDU is subtle; SPD is more eastward-oriented, opened a dialogue policy with the East during the Cold War and Schröder was much about relations in Eastern Europe as well. The differences about NATO and EU are too subtle to be reliable, though.

    The two big parties (CDU/CSU and SPD) are simply too much centre, not very different. The SPD is supposedly more in favour of unions and workers, while the CSU (Bavarian CDU) is the right-wing BS slogan party for the lower instincts.

    The parties with a real profile are the smaller ones; greens (although they threw pacifism overboard under Schröder), F.D.P. (liberalism, protection of rights, very emphatic for business lobbies) and Die Linke (old school pre-1959 social democrats).

    The best news is that we'll most likely get a new coalition which means new coalition negotiations and a new cabinet. That's an opportunity to discard several poor minister choices with more promising choices without losing face.

  5. Good luck. The problem is that is idiots also tend to stick around because they are good at being politicians.