Germans will go to the polls on September 24, where they will cast their two votes – one for the Bundestag member who is to represent them in their district, and another for the national party they would prefer to see in power. The result of this seems inevitable: Angela Merkel will be elected chancellor for the fourth time in 12 years, especially after the outcome of the September 3 televised debate in which primary SPD rival Martin Schulz failed to gain an edge.
Mother Merkel enjoys the credit for her government’s achievements even when she and her party don’t agree with them.
While all the past year’s elections in Europe and the US have been frenzied rides in which populists of all feathers have upended the system and swept traditional politics off the government spectrum, Germany offers the picture of stability and continuity. Two main parties (four with the Greens and Die Linke) dominate the game, while 38 smaller ones, most with no chance of reaching the five-percent hurdle (including over 20 in Berlin) desperately struggle to get their voices heard. The SPD’s “Schulz effect” was short-lived, and there’s no Corbyn-like challenger in sight. Everyone knows that the parties campaigning against Merkel’s CDU today will only be too happy to get back in bed with her on September 25, for another two- or three-colour coalition. Merkel knows it better than anyone, judging by her soporific campaign. Isn’t the country an oasis of economic stability and social justice, just as her slogan “For a Germany that feels good to live in” would have you believe?
But it’s not feeling so good in Berlin, the capital of prosperous Germany, where a national record of one in five people live off state benefits, one in three children is living in quasi-poverty and rents have risen 10 percent in the past year alone. But the ruling coalition has shown no interest in alleviating any of that. And why should they? Mother Merkel enjoys the credit for her government’s achievements even when she and her party don’t agree with them (hello minimum wage and gay marriage). And even though most Germans oppose things like weapons exports and the CDU’s desperation to please Germany’s big businesses (Dieselgate, anyone?), a majority of them will vote for the status quo with the predictability of a Siemens appliance.