Writing for Stratfor, Ambassador Cameron Munter breaks down the implications of the stunning results from Germany's 2017 election.
This weekend, Angela Merkel won a fourth term as Germany's chancellor. Entering into her 13th year in the position, she is now one of the longest-serving leaders in postwar German and European history. The anticipated victory of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and its Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU), reflects the steadiness and predictability that the German electorate has traditionally prized. But the elections' results are more unsettling for those who view Germany as a beacon of the cautious, progressive conservatism that has characterized Merkel's rule for over a decade.
For the first time since the formation of the federal republic, the "Strauss Rule" has been broken: A party further right than the CDU will enter the German parliament. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) may not be the neo-Nazi party that some claim it is, but with 13 percent of the vote, it will use its position as the third-largest group in the Bundestag to elevate its hard-right platform among opposition lawmakers.
In fact, if there is one lesson to be taken away from the Sept. 24 vote, it is that Germany's traditional parties gave their worst performances ever. On the right, Merkel's CDU/CSU coalition took 33 percent of the vote, while on the left the Social Democratic Party (SPD) took only 20 percent. Moreover, in addition to the AfD, three other parties — the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Greens and the Party of the Left — qualified for seats in the legislature, each hovering around 10 percent of the vote.