On September 26, we learned the fate of a longtime government with the 2021 German federal election results. Who won and what’s next?
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), are called the Union. This center-right bloc has led German politics uninterrupted for almost 16 years. Merkel, Germany’s chancellor since 2005, is a dominant force in European politics and is one of the most powerful female leaders in the world.
Now, after a long run as chancellor, Merkel is stepping down and the Union has a new leader. Germany will have a new chancellor by the end of 2021. Will Germany have a new party in charge as well?
Needless to say, the results of this vote will have repercussions around Europe.
What We Know About The 2021 German Federal Election
Armin Laschet is the new chancellor candidate of the Union. Laschet won the 2021 CDU leadership race, defeating social conservative candidate Friedrich Merz. He was chosen to be the chancellor candidate over the CSU’s Markus Soder in April.
The Union lost its lead in the polls in August. The Greens held the lead earlier in the year, but during the summer, the CDU/CSU joint force retook a sizable lead with the traditional second party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), flagging. However, about a month prior to the election, the SPD moved in front while the Union began to falter.
It appears six parties/groups will get into the next Bundestag. These are the CDU/CSU Union, the SPD, the Greens, Alternative for Germany (AfD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and Die Linke (The Left). All except Die Linke are over ten percent in the federal vote intention, putting them well clear of the five-percent threshold to earn seats. Die Linke is at seven percent and they have not appeared below five percent this year. However, they are likely to win at least one constituency seat, which would qualify them for list seats, anyway.
Alternative for Germany will not be involved in the next government. None of the main contenders will work with the far-right party, and no set of coalition math will include them.
About The German Electoral System
Germany, much like New Zealand, uses a mixed-member proportional (MMP) system. There are 299 members elected in constituencies via first-past-the-post. In theory, there are also 299 members elected on regional lists; those seats are divided by the Sainte-Laguë method. We say “in theory” because that number typically is higher thanks to what are called overhang seats.
Since reunification, no party has won an outright Bundestag majority under this system. Merkel and the Union came very close, however, in 2013, falling just five seats short.
Lead Candidates In The 2021 German Federal Election
|Armin Laschet (CDU/CSU)|
|Olaf Scholz (SPD)|
|Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla (AfD)|
|Christian Lindner (FDP)|
|Janine Wissler and Dietmar Bartsch (Die Linke)|
|Annalena Baerbock (Green)|
2021 German Federal Election Results – Seats
Federal Coalition Builder Outcomes
Possible German Election Outcomes
First outcome: The Union wins the most seats and forms another grand coalition with the center-left SPD. Such things happened often in Merkel’s long chancellorship.
Second outcome: The CDU/CSU wins the most seats again and figures out a way to work out past differences with the FDP and perhaps even the Greens to form a “Jamaica coalition” government. A coalition of this form failed in 2017, so it remains unlikely in 2021.
Third outcome: Germany changes governments and the SPD finishes first. They form a “traffic light coalition” with the FDP and Greens. This is one of the more likely election outcomes based on current opinion polling.
Fourth outcome: A coalition of the left is formed with the SPD in the lead spot, the Greens, and Die Linke. All three parties will likely need to do better in the polls than at present for this to happen, however.