Waiting for Jamaica

von Maximilian Steinbeis

209 days in the Netherlands. 541 days in Belgium. 344 days in Spain. If things go badly, the Federal Republic of Germany will soon join this record chart of protracted government formations, possibly on one of the front ranks. The exploratory talks between CDU, CSU, FDP and Greens, called for their black/yellow/green colours the "Jamaica" coalition, are still ongoing, but from what I read and hear, I don’t get the impression that they will lead to a stable, joyfully future-oriented coalition anytime soon. Four of the six parties in the Bundestag, each for comprehensive reasons of its own, seem to expect more return on their political efforts if they adopt the role of opposition than from the risky task of taking on responsibility as a junior partner in Angela Merkel’s government. (And no one wants to coalesce with the far-right AfD to begin with, for even more comprehensive reasons).

What if the talks fall apart? The script for that scenario can be found in Article 63 of the German Grundgesetz: The Federal President will nevertheless propose someone – most likely Angela Merkel – for election as Chancellor to the Bundestag. There, she will fail in two rounds of elections to achieve the required absolute majority. In the third round of voting, a simple majority suffices, and then it is up to the Federal President to decide what he considers to be more conducive for Germany’s public interest: to appoint Angela Merkel as minority chancellor or to declare new elections. New elections would mean that it will probably be summer again until Germany finally has a legitimate government – if at all, as nobody knows if new elections would produce a result that makes forming a government any easier (see Spain) ...

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