Merkel Struggles to Regain Control: I Expect Chaos
Talk Talk Talk
Eurointelligence has some interesting commentary regarding FDP's decision to back out of coalition talks with Angela Merkel. Let's tune in.
We noted a week ago that the decision by the FDP to pull out of the Jamaica-coalition talks has strengthened the party. The latest poll, by Civey, shows a continuation of that trend. The FDP is now at 15%, just behind the SPD, which is stable at 19%. The CDU is at 30%, while the AfD is at 13%. Other polls show a different picture, though.
On the grand coalition, there has been no material movement - only a lot of talks and demands. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is going to meet the party leaders - of CDU, CSU, and SPD - today to get them to begin talks. Angela Merkel said she wants the coalition up and running by December, which we think is a highly unrealistic schedule. She already came out with a list of red lines - a budget surplus, SPD agreement on the upper ceiling of 200,000 refugees the CDU/CSU's agreed, and tax cuts; while the SPD is rolling out its own list of largely incompatible demands, including the abolition of private health insurance, and a generalised social security insurance not linked to employment. Within the CDU there are some who prefer a minority government, or even another attempt to construct a Jamaica-coalition.
In his FT column, Wolfgang Munchau makes the point that another grand coalition would constitute a massive boon to the FDP, whose chairman Christian Lindner, is likely to emerge from the political gridlock in Berlin as the winner. If the two large parties are forced into another grand coalition, they will disappoint their own party bases and drive voters to the outer fringes of German politics. This may well be the last grand coalition, because the decline in the vote shares of CDU/CSU and SPD will make a similar formation impossible in the future. One question one could ask is whether, in the long run, a national-conservative FDP could overtake the CDU as the main party on the centre-right.
I can find only one flaw in the above analysis, but it's a significant one.
There is no Civey poll that I can find that has FDP close to 15%.
German Election Polls
I spent an hour looking for a Civey poll that has FDP at 15%, then gave up. If such a poll exists, congratulations to the FDP.
I used the Wikipedia article Next German Federal Election to create the above chart.
The latest Civey poll does show the Grand Coalition would not have a majority, but there are four more polls that suggest nothing much has changed.
Polls aside, I agree with Financial Times writer and Eurointelligence founder Wolfgang Munchau who says Germany’s coalition woes reveal the failing centre.
Munchau reports that he was "stunned" to see Lindner pull out of the coalition talks.
"This is not what German politicians usually do — make an outrageous promise during an election, and then stick to it," said Munchau.
"I strongly disagree with the FDP’s position on the eurozone. If implemented in full, it would lead to the eventual break-up of the single currency. But I cannot quite hide my admiration for the way Mr. Lindner stood by a campaign promise," added Munchau.
FDP's wise decision to collapse the coalition is only outrageous in the eyes of nannycrat super-statists.
That said, I respect Munchau in precisely the same way he respects Lindner honoring a campaign promise.
In this case, I respect his view on what is likely to happen as opposed to what he thinks should happen.
Munchau writes interesting columns whether you agree with them or not. I tend to agree with Munchau on what's likely while disagreeing on what's desirable.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock