Germany has voted, waits for the new Chancellor

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

Federal elections in my home country Germany: The center-right party CDU, to which I once belonged and for which I sat as an elected representative in the city council of my hometown from 1990 to 1994, was clearly voted out of office yesterday. It should therefore not attempt to form the first federal government of the post-Merkel era via a coalition with the Liberals and the Greens. Instead, the Social Democrats (SPD) have been given the mandate to govern, and that must be acknowledged.

Similarly, there could be difficult coalition negotiations, especially since a three-party coalition at the federal level is a novelty in Germany’s postwar history. But nothing else is mathematically possible if a new edition of the grand coalition is to be avoided, which no one is talking about anyway. None of the parties want to form a coalition with the “Alternative for Germany” (AfD), which is largely comparable to radical Republicans in the United States.

Although the Greens made significant gains, they missed their target of 20 percent. Top candidate Analena Baerbock could possibly serve as vice chancellor in a future three-party coalition and make another run at the chancellorship in four years.

The old party system in Germany has not unexpectedly collapsed in the midst of a dramatically changing world with a man-made global climate crisis and enormous demographic, technological and social challenges. The country is reacting to this – for the present, it is a political shift to the left. However, the majority of climate activists, especially young people, do not trust any of the parties to stand up to the impending climate collapse with the necessary determination. I am afraid they are right.

But at least for now, though, I am relieved. With the exception of the states of Saxony and Thuringia in East-Germany, the radical right-wing AfD has not made significant gains anywhere; on the contrary, it has lost ground. This is the most important conclusion for me from this election, because I don’t want to see political-social conditions in my home country like in the U.S., Poland or Hungary, where populists were either at the helm, still are – or could regain their grip.

After all, Trumpism is very much alive in the USA and will not disappear in the foreseeable future. Millions of misguided “legacy Americans” stand by this pathologic ideology, unwilling or unable to recognize urgently needed adjustments to dramatically changing global circumstances, and thus harm their country with such vehemence that every rationally thinking American should be in fear and terror.