The last time I looked at the miasma of German coalition talks the big takeaway was the mood turning against the Social Democrats (SPD).
Today the latest polling confirms that the more Merkel tries to form a coalition with Martin Schultz and the SPD the more support the coalition loses.
There have been two polls recently, one which grabbed headlines showing that anti-immigration, Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now ahead of the SPD nationally, 16% to 15.5%. Another has AfD rising two points to 14%, though still four points behind the SPD.
The takeaway from these polls is not whether AfD is or is not more popular than the SPD at this point. Coupling those results with the surprising rise of Angela Merkel’s Union party by two points in both polls a clear message from the German electorate emerges.
They want a government formed because they are unaccustomed to being without one, but they don’t want another grand collation between Merkel and the SPD.
That is the kind of formless, opinion-allergic government the German people are sick of. They had that for the past four years and all it got them was more subservience to both Brussels and Washington D.C.
No, since Merkel has staunched the flow of immigrants into Germany – to help her re-election campaign – her leadership is, for now, acceptable to get things done. But, what the German people are telling everyone is that they want her to shift farther ‘right’ rather than left in order to appease the SPD.
And that means a coalition with AfD, which, of course, is not possible with the current political leadership in Germany. And that’s why AfD continues to take a larger bite out of the electoral pie.
Don’t Believe the Numbers
A new article over at the American Conservative by Doug Bandow goes into some great detail on the dynamics at play here. He rightly points out that Germans are unhappy with the current status quo.
While no one doubts Merkel’s leadership, it is in service of a goal that is orthogonal to the desires of Germans. German rejection of the openly Brussels-First Schultz is prima facia evidence of this. Having Schultz gain significant concessions from Merkel in coalition talks may be good for SPD politicians in the short run.
They will get to distribute billions in new programs to buy votes with. But, it will come at the expense of ceding greater control over Germany’s future to Brussels, since Schultz is resolutely in favor of the United States of Europe model for the European Union.
But, at the same time, I feel that Bandow makes the mistake of taking the current polling at its word. As I said, part Merkel’s support comes from her willingness to form some majority government.
So, if that fails because the SPD rank and file vote against the coalition agreement then don’t expect the 30-32% support for the Union party to hold. Other polls have shown more than two-thirds of Germans want Mrs. Merkel to step aside as Chancellor.
Bandow’s argument is that Germans won’t get what they want in an new election because the polls indicate similar results to what we’re currently seeing. I disagree.
Because I don’t feel like the powers behind the scenes in Europe will allow Merkel to step aside. They will continue to ply false choices to German voters in the hopes that they can create an acceptable outcome.
This was the strategy in 2017, using the already hated Schultz as Merkel’s stalking horse and help her cross the finish line with just enough support to continue as Chancellor. It nearly worked. The problem was that AfD and the other minor parties took the SPD’s losses, not the Union.
And that trend is still in place today.
So, the more likely outcome is that support for AfD will surge a minimum of three to four points (if not more) as Union support collapses. This will be a minimum. If Merkel doesn’t step aside the shift will be bigger, with AfD moving solidly above the 20% mark, taking points from the Union.
The Union Divide
At that point CSU leader and Bavarian Governor, Horst Seehofer, will have a major decision on his hands. He could split the CDU/CSU at that point and a grand rearrangement of the board could take place.
We’re headed for an iceberg in Italy’s elections, which have tremendous bearing on the German political dynamic. Germans do not want to bail out Italy or anyone else. And a result in Italy in two weeks could easily bring a coalition to power hell bent on confrontation with Germany over Italy’s debt situation, which is unsustainable.
As I said a month ago:
So, unless there is the political will to consolidate all of Europe’s debt under one roof, this problem lands squarely at the feet of the ECB, the Bundesbank and the farce that is German politics.
This puts the decision on the Troika – The ECB, The IMF and the European Commission — to bail them out directly or kick Italy out of the euro. And that’s smart politics. Make Brussels the bad guy. And [Lega Nord Leader Matteo] Salvini is already playing that tune perfectly.
If they were all smart, they would have the Lira ready to deploy if things go south.
So, a second round of elections that strengthens the hand of German nationalists is exactly what Merkel and Schultz are trying to avoid with this grand coalition farce. And the German people are beginning to see things clearly.