Germany: Turbulence Ahead

Germany, long seen as the most stable, most predictable and least newsworthy of major developed countries, is experiencing some of its greatest political turbulence since unification. So many competing forces are suddenly in play that the parliamentary elections – now expected in mid-September – could transform the political landscape as profoundly as any since the Second World War. Or they could leave the country in its present, strangely volatile, limbo.

The World Today
5 minute READ

Mary Dejevsky

Columnist, The Independent

As recently as two months ago, no one envisaged Germany in the throes of an election campaign this summer. The whole post-war constitutional system is predicated on avoiding instability, and this will be only the third time that parliamentary elections have been held early.

When Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrats were trounced in their long-time fiefdom of North Rhine-Westphalia in May, the expectation was that the red-green coalition in Berlin would battle on. Instead, in a gamble typical of this risk-taking chancellor, Schröder declared he would seek a new mandate.

In mid July, Germany’s President, Horst Köhler, was still deciding whether to exercise his power to dissolve the Bundestag following the vote of no confidence in Schröder’s centre-left coalition at the beginning of the month. The former head of the International Monetary Fund, elected head of state only twelve months ago, had 21 days in which to decide and said he would take his time.

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