It is an election year in Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel just turned into a “lame duck”. Her governing coalition has lost the majority in Germany’s second chamber (representing the state governments) to the opposition; a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens won the state elections in Lower Saxony on Sunday by the closest margin possible (69 vs. 68 seats). This will severely limit Merkel’s policymaking leeway (some observers have noted that her government hasn’t done much anyway over the past three years).
Commentators have not yet decided what the consequences of Sunday’s election means for national elections in fall. While Merkel’s CDU lost the government in Lower Saxon it is polling at a five year high nationally. At the same time, the SPD and Greens were running against a popular MP and especially the SPD was under a lot of pressure due to a media campaign against its candidate for Chancellery, Peer Steinbrück and is far from having started serious campaigning. Merkel’s coalition partner the FDP, without which is will become hard for her to form a government, is consistently polling below the 5% election threshold, nationally. Social Democrats and Greens have argued that they will beat Merkel during campaign, believing their political programs are superior. Germany’s Chancellor is considered by many to be devoid of any political program since she abandoned her neoliberal ideas after the election in 2005 which she almost lost against Gerhard Schröder. However, this has not been an obstacle for her popularity so far.
The elections in Germany are much more open than many international (and domestic) observers believe. While widely considered the most powerful woman alive, she might soon be an elder stateswoman.
Photo Credit: Abode of Chaos