Germany Teetering on Political Crisis Over Coalition Squabbling and Rise of AfD

Germany is continuing to experience the worst political crisis in its post-war history. The parliamentary elections were two months ago but there's still no parliamentary coalition, no government, and no chancellor.

Mikhail Antonov is carefully monitoring the situation in Berlin.

Some things don't change: the gatherings of right-wing euro-skeptics are always followed by protesting leftists and the police with water guns. The AfD congress opened in Hanover this Saturday. It's the only power that has truly won in the latest elections. The other parties only got more trouble. The elections became the harbinger of dramatic changes.


Drawing the conclusion, the major German parties will probably have to admit that it's only the beginning of trouble.

This Thursday the federal chancellery was installing Christmas trees. Christmas is soon and Angela Merkel still hasn't formed a government. Now it'll get postponed until Easter.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany: "We are ready to negotiate with SPD. After a serious, honest, and future-oriented conversation with The Greens and AfD, we're aiming to have the same kind of conversation with SPD".

Two months of serious and honest negotiations with the Liberals and The Greens ended in nothing. That's why this Thursday evening, Merkel and Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Bavarian CSU at least until Monday, went to Bellevue Castle to which Steinmeyer practically dragged Martin Schulz.

The political matchmaking was held in the atmosphere of secrecy. We only know that Steinmeyer didn't serve his guests dinner and didn't offer them drinks.

Despite that, the content is clear: on behalf of Germany and the whole of Europe they were begging Schulz to continue the policy that's been steadily destroying his party for the last couple of years. That means joining the Big Coalition with Merkel's CDU/CSU.

The next morning it was announced that SPD agreed to hold the negotiations. The reaction of Schulz was rather twitchy.

Martin Schulz, Leader of SPD: "The information about us being ready to create a coalition is false. It seems that people from CDU/CSU are behind that. I have already called Angela Merkel on that issue and told her that this is unacceptable."

Right now, Schulz is in a slippery position: He'd been shouting about forming an opposition for two months and then he just let himself be tempted.

He and all the high-ranking SPD officials are getting ready to put themselves right with their voters to get a rich dower from Merkel.

But the situation is still silly and dangerous.

Alexander Rahr, political analyst: "I think that the top SPD officials still want to create the Big Coalition. Why? Because they love being ministers, being powerful and important having dozens of employees. They want to extort a couple of key minister seats for themselves. Ministry of Finance. Foreign Ministry. And some other ministries that would give SPD some additional weight or reputation. The lower party members urge SPD to go completely into the opposition. They want to regenerate the party's identity. Maybe they'll buddy up with The Left to become the German People's Party that Germany lacks nowadays".

The leak about SPD agreeing to hold coalition negotiations apparently came from Merkel. It's clear why she wants to force it: society awaits an adequate outlook.

SPD wants to turn the negotiations into a marathon. Merkel's task is to blame them for the stumble, decreasing their ability to blackmail her because they will do it.

The quotation: "Today, Angela Merkel begins her fight for political survival. Merkel must do everything possible to form an alliance. It's the only thing that allows her to retain her dominant position".

There are two horrible options apart from the Big Coalition: the minority government, that will humiliate the Chancellor in front of the opposition and won't last very long, or the new elections sometime in April that might weaken CDU and SPD even more and bear results only in September that might potentially be the same stalemate they have now.

Against this background, the Big Coalition seems to Merkel the lesser of evils. That said, only 20% of Germans want it back.

According to Der Spiegel, the stability of the Big Coalition reminds them of stagnation. During the last four years, it spent a huge sum of money and created nothing but right-wing populists.

Alexander Rahr: "Everything was smooth and tranquil. The foreign policy was predictable. Merkel was easily winning and creating her coalitions and what happened? AfD appeared. "Alternative for Germany." 13% of votes. It messed up the contract so badly that for two months they haven't been able to create an adequate government".

This week, the leaders of AfD visited Steinmeyer as well. He would have gladly not invited them but if his project gets executed, then it's not SPD but AfD that will become the main opposition in the Bundestag and that's a thing to be reckoned with. AfD is calm and confident. Their Austrian comrades are already in the government. Now it's waiting for its time to come.

Alice Weidel, Leader of AfD: "We consider getting into the government by 2021 but not this time."

An opportunity might occur earlier than 2021. The Big Coalition already called "The Loser Coalition" is a forced decision to maintain effectiveness. The contradictions will reveal themselves.

"A shotgun wedding" is the name the German media call the alliance no one really wants. In Russia we call it an "I knocked her up wedding".

Whether SPD joins the coalition negotiations or not might be clear by the end of the next week. This Friday SPD holds a congress.

Anyway, whatever way they find out of the current crisis it only leads Germany to the same dead end: a new crisis.

Mikhail Antonov, Alexander Korostelev, and Andrey Putra Vesti — News of the Week, Germany.