Election night confirms what the country has been through in recent weeks in this election campaign: that nothing is certain and everything can be changed. The – still – provisional figures even go to extremes. Ironically, the one who, meanwhile, seemed to be completely on the ground in the very last finish can level up with the SPD. Armin Laschet, the eternally underrated, may have once again confirmed the image of the last-minute revival.
But that is by no means a success. On the contrary, at the end of the Merkel era, the country is where the Chancellor started: in a situation that could be described as a political stalemate. At the time, the Union and the SPD had a good 35 percent – eventually a few thousand votes decided who would then become chancellor in a grand coalition. It could be this time again. And even more blatantly, this time it could be a bit of luck with the direct mandates.
How it will end is still uncertain on Election Day. So little can be said with certainty. This also applies to the crucial question of what will grow out of all this. No one can say that either. Only one thing now seems certain: for all parties that qualify as coalition partners, the time from now on will be even more tiring and difficult than the election campaign was. After the election is for the gauge: Especially the Union and the SPD, the Greens and the FDP and perhaps the left is now an exciting time. In detail this means:
Union: Close to the worst
What an end to the Merkel era. At the end of its 16 years, the Union is quite confused. Somehow a mid-twenties result — not long ago, the CDU and CSU seemed immune to such a crash. Yes, they said to themselves in the ranks of the Christian Democrats, the SPD is suffering in the new times. But that won’t happen to us. Now it comes close to the worst: the risk of losing its role as a people’s party.
In the Union they have to say goodbye to all dreams of experiencing these things only with others. September 26, 2021 is another turning point in its history: the Union has never been worse than this time.
Therefore, your candidate for chancellor will find it difficult to form a coalition from such a situation. Nothing is excluded – and certainly not with Armin Laschet. But the result bar compared to 2017 points sharply downwards, while for the Social Democrats it points clearly upwards. Even this message has a power that can harm Laschet both inside and outside the Union. It’s more than just a hint of who is likely to have a better chance of forming a new coalition right now. It’s probably the Social Democrats.
Much will also depend on whether the CSU will continue to support all efforts in the fight for coalition from now on – or whether it will tend to go where it was in the days before the election: his best with recognizable Union leadership could still be a sensible and promising variant.
In short, this means that the Union and the CDU have already gone through extremely complicated and very difficult times internally. And that probably gets even more complicated when they actually go exploring with the Greens and the FDP. Laschet might be able to accept the demands and expectations that await them, but many of his colleagues would nibble on them hard.
SPD: Climbing ruins, but not yet won
Of course, the picture with the SPD is completely different. What a return it is, on the big stage. For months they were at 15.16 percent — and nothing seemed to be able to change anything. Then Annalena Baerbock and Armin Laschet came up with breakneck errors – and suddenly almost anything seems possible for the SPD. Within a few weeks, a good ten percent plus – that is a success, and the Social Democrats will celebrate that appropriately.
The next morning, however, the questions come. And they are heavy. Will everyone in the SPD leadership accept that this success gives Olaf Scholz a lot of power? Or will Kevin Kühnert, Saskia Esken and many younger MPs suddenly sitting in parliament read out a victory for their much more decisive and left-wing positions in the great success of the SPD? These are crucial questions for Scholz and for all explorations. Only if he has the right room for maneuver can he, who has plunged into this almost hopeless race, conduct the negotiations with the necessary authority.
That may sound a bit technical at first. But it will be very concrete very soon. Especially if the SPD is going to talk to the FDP. It will hardly be any different with a coalition and the Chancellery. However, their party leader Christian Lindner is unlikely to agree to some of the left’s big goals. So who leads? Who decides? The Social Democrats will have to clarify this quickly in their triumphant rush.
Greens: good result, weighed down by pain
Here’s how it can work: first run high, then land hard – and now with a result that would have been very good in the past, but now has to disappoint many. The party has never been so close; and she has never met two opponents who could have been defeated in a good campaign. But would, would, if – in the end the great success did not come true.
Much has been heard in internal circles in recent days. There was always speculation and analysis about when the result would be great, when it would be good and when it would be a catastrophe. The corridors: more than twenty percent, at least 14 to 15 percent – and lower. Seen in this way, the result is acceptable, but very close to the edge.
And so the coming hours and days are going to be extremely exciting for the Greens as well. First of all, the party will have to make clear who will lead it at the top in the explorations and possible coalition negotiations. Most in the further tour are still hoping for a tandem of the two co-chairs Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck; But only a few have a certain sense that the two will really get back together like they did before the election campaign.
There are injuries on both sides. In the meantime, however, many suspect that from now on they will need Habeck, who is experienced in the coalition and who was less injured during the election campaign, particularly urgently. Does Baerbock see it the same way? Does she now have the strength to fight side by side? And can he stay with the team despite their setbacks? These are questions that have not yet been answered, but have been on the table for a long time.
FDP: winner with trumps in hand
It didn’t always look like this, in between the FDP boss even had to be a bit scared. But with this election result, Christian Lindner achieved a great success. And he has many assets in store. Most importantly, he who always wants to rule reasonably and in the middle needs him. In other words, the election winner will have to call him.
There are also two other advantages. That’s the experience. Unlike 2013, Lindner now has many good people by his side who spent four years in the Bundestag. That makes it easier for him, who is still undisputed number one. He can have something tested here in the polls and try something there. He has a few colleagues who have contacts and who can build bridges and fend off dangers as they compete for alliances. The domestic politician Konstantin Kuhle is just as much a part of it as the social expert Johannes Vogel or the foreign politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff.
In addition, this time he made himself known in the election campaign, especially with regard to budgetary, financial and fiscal policy. And if there is a need for someone like him, then that person can also ask a lot. Without being able to predict any intrusive research, one can guess: certain tax increases or loans will hardly exist at Lindner.
Left: Too weak to gain weight.
There is much to suggest that the Left Party leadership has promised much this time around. But the result is sobering. Barely on the five percent threshold, and in some forecasts, a red-green-red solution surpassed all odds — that’s not a win, certainly not a triumph, yes. Not even a respectable success. For this reason, it is hardly possible to derive special requirements. If there is even enough for a red-green-red majority, then the left doesn’t really have good cards.
That doesn’t mean they won’t try anyway. But the vast majority considers the chance that a possible chancellor Olaf Scholz would embark on such an adventure with these figures is quite unlikely. At this point, top-left positions, especially in foreign policy, should exit very unequivocally – which is exactly what it should be particularly difficult for after this mild outcome.
AfD: No longer on the way up
Presumably, the leading members of the AfD will also see this result as a success. On the evening of this election day, it becomes clear that the AfD is currently not rising, but going downhill. Not very quickly, but steadily when the first forecasts need to be confirmed.
It is not unlikely that it lost the most votes to the Free Voters. According to the first figures, these have won up to three percent of the vote. The result: The leadership dispute in the AfD is likely to continue soon. Who is to blame? And who needs to get stronger in the party now – these fights are not over, they will get even stronger now.