Germany’s Upcoming General Elections, A Turn Towards Green?

The upcoming German federal election is set to be a momentous one: this September will see incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel retire. As governments across the globe begin to think about their state’s post-Covid recovery strategies, an opportunity has presented itself to reflect on how to rebuild the EU’s largest economy.

Germany’s largest and oldest parties have all decided on their candidates for Chancellor of Germany. Armin Laschet will represent the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU); Olaf Scholz will represent the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP) and Christian Linder will represent the Free Democratic Party (FDP). Newer parties such as the  Alternative for Germany and the Left are yet to formally present their chosen candidate however the Green party, in their first bid for the chancellorship, have already chosen theirs in Annalena Baerbock. Baerbock makes for quite an exciting choice.

In contrast to a lot of the other candidates for the chancellorship, Baerbock is a spirited and young woman. Although fairly centrist in policy she acknowledges change is needed, as she did in her candidacy acceptance speech where she also highlighted German innovation in areas such as coronavirus vaccination. Following sixteen years of Merkelism and a somewhat poorly managed pandemic, Baerbock is optimistic that there is an appetite for change. Green’s draft manifesto includes plans for a dramatic increase in public investment, to bolden Germany’s climate goals and consequently make commitments such as the Paris Agreement seem more realistic. Whether this is an appealing prospect for Germany’s Mitte (middle), a key stakeholder in such general elections, is yet to be proven, with the Greens all too familiar with derogatory labels such as the ‘party of bans’. However, there are promising signs: according to The Economist, some 30% can imagine voting Green. Furthermore, the Greens remain part of coalitions in 11 of Germany’s 16 states.

 Many of Baerbock’s opponents however would argue that she is too inexperienced or perhaps even label her as a ‘Leftist’ yet, this does not take away from the sense of opportunity that surrounds the upcoming election. Within the CDU and CSU alliance experiencing instability, two then-prospective candidates for the chancellorship, Mr. Laschet, and Markus Söder were involved in some political foul play in the run-up to their party elections. Not to mention, the CDU and CSU have lost a substantial amount of seats in two recent state elections.

Overall, this September will prove to be an ultra-significant moment for German politics. From issues such as the coronavirus pandemic to climate change, the approach was taken by Germany, and de facto also the EU, to solve these major problems will be at least in part decided then.

James Arin Duffy