Polls, Parties, Politics: Elections 2017


The election Sunday was a relatively simple one. Voters chose Sebastian Kurz and his People’s Party (ÖVP) and the more right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) because they are worried about immigration and identity but preferred it with a smiling, unthreatening face.  According to electoral analysis in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, voters’ overriding concern was migration and …Read More

For many years, the state of Maine was a reliable indicator of the U.S. political mood. So much so that the phrase “As Maine goes, so goes the nation” gained currency.  Maine’s career as a political bellwether came to a crashing end in 1936, when Republican Alf Landon carried only two New England states. That led …Read More

A first post-election poll published by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen reveals three important findings regarding the German public’s assessment of the choices they made in the Bundestag election. General dissatisfaction with the results of the election: 66% of Germans polled are displeased with the results of the vote compared to only 28% who are pleased. This compares …Read More

While the recent German election has been getting all the attention, Sunday’s election in Austria is likely to be more scrutinized than normal in this consensus-oriented country. The likely winner and next chancellor is Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP, the rough equivalent of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union). Kurz is …Read More

“Everything must change so that everything can stay the same.” So wrote Lampedusa in The Leopard about a Sicilian aristocracy coping with revolutions in nineteenth century Italy. But this phrase could apply to twenty-first century Germany as well. Lampedusa’s insight was not that the clock could be stopped to produce some kind of political stasis. …Read More

The results of the German election will have important implications for Europe and the transatlantic relationship. Here is a first take on what this means for transatlantic relations. Chancellor Merkel would win this week’s version of the Washington Post’s Worst Week award. The key take away from Sunday’s election is that Merkel was substantially weakened, …Read More

The Left Party (Die Linke) is the story of the last twenty-seven years since German unification. It has been the largest of the three smaller parties in the Bundestag during the past four years—bigger than the Greens and the Christian Social Union. Its base is largely in the eastern German states; the party heads the …Read More

The consensus on this week’s election in Germany is that it has been a boring campaign, it’s outcome a done deal, and that we can all look forward to four more years of Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, this may turn out to be one of the least predictable elections in recent German history.  It is …Read More

On September 24, Angela Merkel is likely to match former chancellor Helmut Kohl by winning a fourth election to become Chancellor of Germany. Following that, the question is: what will be the color of her coalition? It’s possible that after the election she will govern Germany with a third version of coalition partners—a remarkable display of …Read More

One of the peculiarities of the German political landscape is the role of the Christian Social Union (CSU). A party whose reach is confined to the borders of Bavaria, it has been a major force within the national framework of the Federal Republic of Germany ever since it emerged out of the reconstruction of political parties …Read More

The German elections are just over two weeks away on September 24.  Chancellor Angela Merkel is nearly certain to be reelected to a fourth term, so the main unknown surrounds her choice of coalition partner(s). Will it be another grand coalition with the left-of-center Social Democrats (the SPD may wish some time in opposition), two-party …Read More

As Tip O’Neill once said, all politics is local. Had he heard the debate on Sunday between Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz, he would have just nodded. The exchange between the two challengers was anything but riveting, following the same pattern of verbal jousting one encounters in the unending chain of talk shows in Germany. …Read More

Germany has always been about more than itself. Given its geographical position in the middle of Europe, Germany’s role, its power, and its influence on its neighbors over many centuries has been of importance to Germans and non-Germans alike.

Germany’s election on September 24 will likely bring a new political party to the Bundestag: the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Five years after the party’s emergence, the AfD calls itself an “alternative” for German voters. In reality, it is less an alternative than an “anti-party,” representing the backlash from voters who are energized primarily by …Read More

Foreign policy issues will not play a major role in the decision of most Germans when they go to vote on September 24, yet the campaign which now has opened “the hot phase” has revealed that the future of German defense spending and Germany’s role in European security will be an issue. On defense, the …Read More

Germany’s Social Democrats are frustrated. Aside from being down in the polls behind Chancellor Merkel and the CDU/CSU, they seem to be plagued by some unfortunately timed incidents that will nag them in the final weeks of the election campaign. The recent collapse of an SPD-Green coalition government in Lower Saxony after a member of …Read More

Germany’s Free Democrats stand a good chance of returning to national government after the German election next month. Polls suggest that the liberal party – “liberal” in the classical European sense, not the contemporary American one – could become the coalition partner of Chancellor Angela Merkel, thus helping her to stay in office for a fourth term. …Read More

Will the FDP be returning to the stage of national government after the German elections next month? Maybe. Current polls suggest the Free Democratic Party (FDP) could be the coalition partner to a reelected Chancellor Merkel and the CDU/CSU, resuming a role that it played for decades. The question is whether the FDP can pull it …Read More

It’s two months before the German election on September 24, and the Green Party is struggling to gain traction. Recent polls project single-digit support, with few indications of improvement. Not too long ago, speculation about a government led by Angela Merkel with the Green Party as a coalition partner was not unusual. That option seems …Read More

Germany’s summer vacation is about to be in full force and, with it, the so-called summer hole (Sommerloch). It’s often a silly time in the news, but is also a temporary respite before the political headwinds get stronger in the remaining eight weeks before the national elections on September 24. Chancellor Merkel may be going …Read More

Three months from now, Germans will go to the polls to elect a new government. While German voters are not as subjected to a permanent election campaign mode as are American voters, the weeks leading up to the September 24 elections will be increasingly marked by the stand-off between Angela Merkel and her SPD rival Martin …Read More

When Angela Merkel delivered her shot over the bow toward Washington, DC, following her encounter with Donald Trump, it was not only aimed at that city but also across the English Channel. Her comments were kept generic, “the times in which we could fully rely on others are to a certain extent over,” but then …Read More

Yogi Berra once said that it’s very difficult to predict anything—especially the future. But when you are trying to face that task the biggest challenge is to ask the right questions. Populism is a combination of both signals and noise, but detecting its meaning and impact is a difficult challenge. Differentiating between the noise of …Read More

After a state election in Germany, the Social Democrats (SPD) lost—again; the Christian Democrats (CDU) won—again; and a strong showing by the liberal FDP has created a chance to rebuild a coalition government with the CDU in Düsseldorf…and maybe later this year in Berlin. Not much of this scenario was expected as recently as four …Read More

“Clear horizon, strong heart,” or, as they say in Schleswig-Holstein, “Klaar Kimming, Rüm Haart.” The slogan frequently seen on flags flying over the North Sea islands might as well be flying over the Kanzleramt after the elections in Schleswig-Holstein on May 7. Chancellor Merkel’s party picked up both support and a new champion who could be …Read More