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Germany: a clear a clear electoral mandate, but no government


Autumn leaves whirled around the Reichstag building in Berlin on 22 October, when the newly elected Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, convened for its first session. Chancellor Angela Merkel, beginning her third term, also met her deadline for signing up a coalition partner.

Autumn leaves whirled around the Reichstag building in Berlin on 22 October, when the newly elected Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, convened for its first session. Chancellor Angela Merkel, beginning her third term, also met her deadline for signing up a coalition partner.

CC flickr mark hillary

Last September, Merkel led the Christian-democrats (CDU-CSU) to their best general election result since reunification in 1990, but her success also provoked a dramatic change in the parliamentary power structure. Under the Bundestag’s glass dome, half of the plenary chamber has now been taken over by the CDU-CSU. On the opposite side sits comfortably spread the centre-left SPD, while the Greens are wedged-in between the two of them. Left-wing Linke occupies the blue seats far out to the left.

 Having come-in just five seats short of an absolute majority, and with their traditional partner FDP out of the parliament, the Union’s leadership has over the last few weeks held intense preliminary talks with both the social-democrats and the ecologists.

Exploratory talks with Grünen bogged down on Tuesday last week, leaving the Chancellor with little option but to align herself with the Social Democrats, the third such coalition in post-war Germany.

This had been Merkel’s preferred option from the outset because of the comfortable majority she would enjoy in both the lower and the upper houses of parliament. But the resulting mega-coalition of more than 500 representatives corners the opposition as never before. The Left party and the Greens will be have between them less than the 25 per cent of deputies needed to be able to convene the Bundestag or to seek to have a law reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

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