The Bavarian state elections last Sunday saw the Greens replace the Social Democrats as the largest party of the left. The Greens have begun doing the same in national polls.

If this trend holds, it makes Germany’s lasting Grand Coalition between the conservative Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats difficult to maintain. And with the Social Democrats polling this poorly, it is impossible to build a coalition from the left.

In fact, if you take some of the more recent polling, it is hard to see any coalition assembling a majority in the Bundestag.

If the parties are polling as they are now, the only plausible governing coalitions are a Grander Coalition – a Grand Coalition that includes the Greens – or a Jamaica Coalition, including the Christian Democrats, the Free Democrats, and the Greens. 

Neither is easy to imagine: Could you convince the Greens to join a collapsing coalition, or convince the increasingly nationalist Free Democrats to join the cosmopolitan Greens? Merkel attempted to build just such a coalition after the last federal elections, but the talks came apart over migration issues.

If something does not change, Germany will have a hard time governing itself after the next federal election.

Grand Coalition? Traffic Light? Red-Red Coalition? I should be embarrassed at how little I know of German politics, but honestly when has the political situation in Germany ever had an impact on the broader world.


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