‘Germany’s Merkel Conservative Block Losing Elections, Leftists Win’
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – In a postwar political turnaround, Germany’s center-left Social Democrats (SPD) were moving towards election victory, as projected results appeared bleak for the party of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel’s successor, Armin Laschet, was vowing to form a government, but his conservative CDU party has seen its worst performance in history.
The SPD was leading by a small margin early Monday, but results were not yet final. Their leader Olaf Scholz said his party had a clear mandate to rule.
In a sign of changing times, even the parliamentary seat of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to a candidate from the rival Social Democrats for the first time since 1990.
Merkel won the country’s most northeasterly constituency in the first free elections after German reunification and then defended the seat in seven subsequent polls.
The long-time leader announced in 2018 that she would not run for office again.
Nationwide in Sunday’s elections, Merkel’s Union bloc saw its worst result since 1949, coming second behind the center-left Social Democrats. The latest projections gave it 24.1 percent of the vote, a drop of almost nine percentage points from 2017.
Despite Merkel’s warning, the results came that a left-leaning government coalition would “strangulate” businesses with new taxes and isolate Germany on the international stage.
The SPD rejected such warnings as “throwing with dirt.” Scholz has said he would prefer to form a government coalition with the Greens and the liberal FDP. But he has not ruled out building an alliance with Greens and the far left, including former communists, worrying pro-business conservatives.
Merkel, who grew up in Communist-ruled East Germany before reunification in 1990, warned against tiling with the Die Linke or “the Left” party. “With me as chancellor, there could never be a coalition involving the Left,” she told Parliament recently. “And whether this [opinion] is shared by Olaf Scholz or not, that remains open.”
Scholz named conditions for any coalition, including a commitment to the U.S-led North Atlantic defense alliance (NATO).
However, the Left Party wants to abolish NATO, end all the Bundeswehr missions abroad, and ban all weapons exports. Their election program states: “We call for the dissolution of NATO and its replacement by a collective security system with Russia’s participation.”
The nationwide move towards the left came amid concerns among left-leaning voters about the perceived slow move towards adopting climate-change measures demanded by, for instance, United Nations.
Spreading the wealth of Europe’s largest economy more equally appeared another reason.
Additionally, Merkel’s decision to welcome more than a million refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in 2015 and 2016 raised concern among, especially right-wing voters.
It stands as perhaps the most consequential moment of her 16 years in power. That decision impacted Europe, and critics say it changed Germany. However, it also changed the lives of those seeking refuge, most of them Muslims and some persecuted Christians.
The debt was acknowledged by families who named their newborn children after her in gratitude.
While concerns about migration benefited campaigns of far-right groups and parties, the election results showed most Germans voted for perhaps a left-leaning new leadership style rather than radical new anti-migration policies after 16-years under Merkel.
As conservatives were licking their wounds, Germany faced the prospect of lengthy coalition talks. The outgoing chancellor is going nowhere until a coalition is formed – and observers warn that may have to wait until Christmas.
Election officials said early Monday that a count of all 299 constituencies showed the Social Democrats won 25.9 percent of the vote, ahead of 24.1 percent for Merkel’s Union bloc.
The environmentalist Greens came third with 14.
8 percent, followed by the pro-business Free Democrats with 11.5 percent. The two parties already signaled that they were willing to discuss forging a three-way alliance with either of their two bigger rivals to form a government.
The anti-migration far-right Alternative for Germany came fourth in Sunday’s vote with 10.3 percent, while the ex-Communist Left party took 4.9 percent.
For the first time since 1949, the Danish minority party SSW was reportedly set to win a parliamentary seat.
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