Germany after elections #Forum2000online

September 30, 2021

This week's #Forum2000online Chat brings a very timely topic. Liana Fix, Programme Director for International Affairs at Körber-Stiftung, and Martin Ehl, Chief Analyst at Hospodářské noviny, discussed the outcome of the German elections on 26 September 2021. What type of coalition can we expect and how will it address Germany’s Foreign relations in the future?

Traffic Light or Jamaica?

According to Fix, there are two possibilities for the future coalition, either a Jamaican coalition or a Traffic light coalition. Jamaica is the Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU) with the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens, and Traffic Light is Social Democrats (SPD), joined by the FDP and the Greens. No matter which one it would be, both leading parties announced they would like negotiations to end faster than in 2017.

“Greens are the most interesting factor of the equation,” says Fix. It will reflect in stances towards Russia, China, and human rights in broader sense.

The coalition might consist of opposing views

When it comes to Russia and China, there are quite some economic interdependencies that the countries already have. “It will be not as easy for the human rights approach of the Greens to push the other parties very far.”

The approach is twofold. It consists of “on the one hand standing up to Russia after 2014, facilitating common EU sanctions, but on the other hand keeping dialogue channels open with Russia”.

Fix also mentioned multilateralism as one of the main principles of Germany's long-term foreign policy. The key is to invite everyone to the table. This is different from the principles of the summit of democracies that Germany is preparing for in December.

Even after Afghanistan, US is still a trusted ally

Berlin is very critical of the US approach to the Afghan crisis and sees it as an embarrassment that goes beyond US affairs. However, “This should not put into question the whole transatlantic alliance.”

Germany wants to support the American “attempt to uphold democratic governments around the world and to stand up to China”.

“For four years, we did not have a transatlantic president who would believe in NATO,” says Fix. Now the trust can finally begin to restore and Germany wants to be clearly a part of it.

Germany is relatively modest and pragmatic in its position as a superpower. The French idea of Strategic Autonomy is accepted with caution and little enthusiasm. Berlin is rather reserved in developing idealistic views and promoting them.

In this interview, you will learn that:

  • Parties will form either Jamaica coalition or a Traffic light coalition
  • Germany’s ambiguous approach to Russia and China will become more difficult to pursue in the future
  • Green party will play a crucial role in the coalition negotiations
  • Greens are very outspoken on human rights issues and criticize loudly those who violate them
  • Germany tends to invite all the partners to the negotiation, democratic or not 
  • Afghan crisis has embarrassed Berlin but won’t mean a drastic change in the relationship with US
  • Germany is unlikely to engage in visionary projects such as Strategic Autonomy

Liana Fix is the Programme Director for International Affairs at Körber-Stiftung, Historian and Political Scientist. She formerly worked at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (S.W.P.). Her research focuses on European Security, Germany’s international role, Russian foreign policy, and Eastern Europe.

Martin Ehl is a journalist and author working for Czech Economic daily Hospodářské noviny (ihned.cz). He also writes a column 'Middle Europa' at Transitions Magazine (tol.org). His areas of interest include Central Europe, security and transatlantic relations, and globalization.

This interview was recorded on October 28, 2021. 

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