SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Here’s how Germany could end up having a snap election next year

A collapse of exploratory talks on forming a new German government under Chancellor Angela Merkel would likely trigger snap elections, a prospect fraught with risk for Europe's top economic power.

Here's how Germany could end up having a snap election next year
Photo: DPA

The inconclusive September 24th general election left Merkel seeking new partners as she attempts to embark on a fourth term.

However a failure of her conservatives to find enough common ground with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the ecologist Greens to embark on formal coalition talks would leave the country in political limbo.

What would the road to snap elections look like?

Before new elections could be called under Germany's Basic Law, the Bundestag lower house of parliament would have to be dissolved by the president.

Normally the chancellor could trigger this by calling a confidence vote in parliament. But because Merkel is only the head of a caretaker government, she does not have this option.

To move the process forward, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier could nominate Merkel for election by the Bundestag.

If she failed to win an absolute majority, a second vote may be held within 14 days. If this too is inconclusive, a third round would be held in which a plurality of the votes could potentially suffice to keep Merkel in office.

Steinmeier would then have one week to decide whether to recognise Merkel as chancellor or dissolve the Bundestag.

If he chooses the latter, snap elections must be held within 60 days.

Could a 'grand coalition' deal avert new elections?

Germany has been governed for the last four years by a so-called grand coalition bringing together Merkel's conservatives with their traditional rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD).

In theory, the parties would have enough seats in the Bundestag to form a new government.

However given the SPD's disastrous showing in the September general election with a record low 20.5 percent of the vote, party leader Martin Schulz said it would opt to lead the opposition rather than continuing to languish in Merkel's shadow.

POLITICS

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

While far-right groups have been celebrating, other politicians in Germany see the results as worrying. Here's a look at the reaction.

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

According to initial projections following Italy’s election on Sunday, the coalition led by Georgia Meloni and her radical right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party has won a majority of seats in the two chambers of the Italian parliament and will lead the next government. 

Meloni is a euro-sceptic who has previously spoken about having an “aversion” to Germany and referred to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “socialist” while on the campaign trail.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters on Monday: “We of course have to wait for the official final result from this election but at this time what the chancellor would say is that Italy is a very Europe-friendly country with very Europe-friendly citizens and we assume that won’t change.” 

READ ALSO: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A Finance Ministry spokesperson added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets the fiscal rules for the eurozone.

Despite these reassurances from the central government, German politicians in the EU parliament have expressed concern about the new direction for Italy.  

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, said the “unprecedented Italian slide to the right” will have massive repercussions for Europe and for the European Union.

“Italy, as a founding member and the third strongest economy in the EU, is heading for an anti-democratic and anti-European government.”

Though Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, she has said that Rome must assert its interests more and has policies that look set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

The Greens’ co-leader in Brussels, Thomas Waitz, told Die Welt that the EU can only function if it sticks together, for example on cooperation in energy markets, decisions on Russian sanctions or dealing with the Covid crisis. “Meloni, on the other hand, would back national go-it-alones. It can be a disaster for Europe,”  he said. 

READ ALSO: Euro falls to 20-year low against US dollar

The FDP’s expert on Europe, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, takes a similar view. He said on ARD’s Morgenmagazin that cooperation with Italy in the European Union will become more difficult. He said that it will now be much more difficult to achieve unity in Europe, especially on the issues of migration, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and the single market.

Speaking on RTL, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour called the election results in Italy “worrying” and pointed out that people within the Italian right-wing nationalist alliance have “very close entanglements with the Kremlin”.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that people in Moscow also popped the corks last night,” he said.

Germany’s own far-right party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has been celebrating the victory. 

AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch wrote “We cheer with Italy!” on Twitter late Sunday evening.

Referring to the recent elections in Sweden, where the right was also successful, von Storch wrote: “Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are so yesterday.”

Her party colleague Malte Kaufmann tweeted, “A good day for Italy – a good day for Europe.”

With reporting from AFP

SHOW COMMENTS