Early Monday morning, after a long night of fierce talks between Chancellor Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union and Christian Socialist Union (CDU/CSU), the market liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the environmentalist far-left Green Party (Greens), she emerged to the press announcing the collapse of negations after the FDP had withdrawn.
The FDP was vital for Merkel to form a government; she needed their support to form a majority in the Bundestag, the German parliament.
Major issues leading to this development were irreconcilable differences over energy and immigration policy.
The FDP has been at odds with the Greens in how best to address climate change, and were unable to agree on a policy related to coal. The Greens wanted drastic cuts to its consumption, cuts at levels the FDP believed would harm German industry’s international competitiveness.
While the FDP has to an extent come to terms with the new stricter immigration policies that are being pushed by the CDU/CSU (in response to the rise of the immigration skeptic, populist-right, Alternative for Deutschland, who rode a wave of resentment into the Bundestag stemming from Merkel’s controversial acceptance of over a million refugees and economic migrants in 2015) The Greens have not.
Now, unless the FDP agrees to return to negotiations, Merkel will either have to form a minority government, or hold fresh elections.
A minority government would mean her power would be reduced even further, as she would be subject to the whims of parties outside of her control to pass legislation.
A fresh election is also feared by the Chancellor as her party’s popularity has declined even further since the election, and so has the main center-left party, the Social Democrats (SDP), while populist parties such as the AFD have risen slightly in levels of support.
This could translate into even more seats for them if a fresh election is called. Leading to an even more fragmented parliament where coalition talks could be more difficult than already they currently are.
Either way, this is sad news for libertarians and fiscal conservatives because it is almost certain that the market-friendly, liberal, FDP will not gain control of the German finance ministry. Therefore, their ability to promote the call for regulation reduction and tax cuts will be unknown until the next German government forms; but it is now uncertain if it will even include them.
Leader of the FDP, Christian Linder, immediately after withdrawing from the coalition talks, stated, “It is better not to govern than to govern badly.”
Hopefully his refusal to allow his party to sacrifice principal and integrity in exchange for power will only further boost his party’s influence on the field of German politics going forward, and not leave them stranded on the sidelines.
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