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Pressure is mounting within the Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union bloc after preliminary results released on Monday showed the center-right alliance won 24.1% of the vote, compared with 25.7% for the Social Party -centre-left democrat.
The results make a coalition government necessary, and it seems increasingly likely that the CDU-CSU is heading towards the opposition, although its candidate for chancellor, Armin Laschet, insists the bloc has a mandate. to govern with less than a quarter of the votes. .
Having essentially ruled out forming another so-called ‘grand coalition’, the SPD and CDU-CSU prepare to woo two smaller parties – the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats – in an attempt to lure them into an alliance. government.
The Greens and the FDP, who are now effectively in the position of kingmakers, seem ready to discuss their respective positions together this week before engaging with the major parties.
While acknowledging that his party did not live up to expectations, Laschet said Monday that he was optimistic about forming a coalition.
“There is no doubt that this result cannot, must not and will not satisfy the Union. We managed to catch up in the final sprint and prevent the red-red-green, but at the same time there are painful losses. It was not enough for the first place, ”he told party members.
Despite Laschet’s optimism, introspection has already started within Merkel’s CDU party with growing clamor for Laschet to step down, German media reported on Tuesday.
Criticism of Laschet grew overnight, the Bild newspaper reported on Tuesday, with top CDU officials saying the party should accept the will of the voters and concede victory to the SPD. There are rumors in the German media that there may be pressure on Laschet to step down.
The newspaper quoted Lower Saxony CDU boss Bernd Althusmann as saying that “we must now humbly and respectfully accept the will of the voters, with decency and attitude. Change was desired ”.
Hessian Prime Minister Volker Bouffier said the CDU-CSU had “no right to government accountability” while Tilman Kuban, head of the Junge Union (the young wing of the CDU-CSU), reportedly declared “we lost the elections. Period. The clear mandate belongs to the SPD, the Greens and the FDP. “
The electorate seems to agree that Laschet should not claim a term to rule, with most Germans resisting the prospect of another Conservative-led government after Merkel’s almost 16 years as chancellor.
According to an opinion poll carried out by the Civey Institute for the daily Augsburger Allgemeine, 71% of the more than 5,000 people questioned oppose Laschet’s attempt to become chancellor after the party’s poor performance. The poll, conducted Sunday and Monday, found that only 22% of Germans supported Laschet’s claim to have a mandate to form a government.
A bad trend
Yet the election came at a time of vulnerability for the Tories before Merkel left.
In Sunday’s elections, and without the CSU (its Bavarian sister party), the CDU only won 18.9% of the vote, down 7.9 percentage points from the 2017 vote. Conversely, the SPD has seen its share of the vote increase by 5.2 percentage points since 2017, as have the Greens and Free Democrats, according to official data from the federal returning officer.
Jeffrey Rathke, president of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, told CNBC on Tuesday that while it was important not to write off Laschet for now “all the bets are now on the Greens and the FDP trying to find a way to work with Olaf Scholz and the Social Democrats. “
Marco Willner, head of investment strategy at NN Investment Partners, stressed that the coalition talks could take some time.
“It’s a very strange situation at this time when really, for the first time, the small junior partners of this coalition are setting the tone and looking to choose the senior partner in this game. It is clear that the SPD has the lead here. but it’s day two after the election and I expect this to continue for a while and who knows where it will lead, ”he told CNBC’s“ Squawk Box Europe ”on Tuesday.
Why has the CDU done so badly?
“What is economically necessary [in Germany] is a significant change, ”Clemens Fuest, president of the German Ifo Institute, told CNBC on Tuesday. Noted.
Despite attempts to appeal to Laschet to attract voters as a continuity candidate and someone who can replace Merkel, he did not have the same appeal and even managed to alienate himself a lot during the election campaign. , having been filmed laughing while visiting a German town affected by flooding.
Read more: Without Merkel, many German voters don’t know who to vote for
For some, Laschet’s biggest downside was that he just wasn’t as likeable a candidate as his main rival Olaf Scholz, and that he just wasn’t Merkel.
Matthew Oxenford, analyst for Europe at the Economist Intelligence Unit, simply noted that “Scholz has turned out to be a much more convincing chancellor candidate than Armin Laschet of the CDU / CSU” while Thomas Gschwend, professor in the Department of political science at the University of Mannheim, CNBC said ahead of the vote that “the CDU tried to stage its campaign that Laschet was a natural successor to Merkel, but people just didn’t believe that story because he is not Merkel, he is not like her ”.