On September 27, the Valdai Club hosted a discussion on the results of the parliamentary elections in Germany, titled “Germany Without Angela Merkel: What Can Russia and the World Expect?” “Yesterday’s vote was perceived by many in Europe and Russia as the end of a huge, important and very special era in European politics and the beginning of something new,” Fyodor Lukyanov, research director of the Valdai Discussion Club said, opening the discussion.
Artyom Sokolov, Research Fellow at the Centre for European Studies at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ MGIMO University, noted that a high degree of uncertainty remains following the election results. Coalition negotiations will be difficult, and just because the Social Democrats won more votes than the Christian Democratic Union does not mean that Olaf Scholz will become chancellor. “We are in front of a black box that has yet to be opened,” he concluded.
Reinhard Krumm, head of the Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe (Vienna), Friedrich Ebert Foundation, presented the point of view of the social democratic circles on the election results. Describing Scholz’s campaign, he noted that the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) candidate tried to focus on stability. He stressed that what happened was a real victory for the party and allowed it to regain confidence, but it is not known whether it is able to form a coalition.
Hans-Joachim Spanger, Head of the Research Department and Member of the Executive Board at the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany, called the election result paradoxical, but noted that significant changes in German politics are unlikely. At the same time, according to the results, the key role will be played by two rival parties — the liberals and the greens. A “grand coalition” of Christian Democrats and the SPD, according to the expert, is unlikely to arise, because the CDU/CSU clearly will not accept the role of a junior partner. Most likely, he says, is a coalition of the SPD, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).
Alexander Rahr, scientific director of the German-Russian Forum, pointed to the importance of the climate agenda for these elections, which is turning into a new overarching ideology and crowding out the agenda of social justice. Outlining the results, he noted that the SPD won a noticeable psychological victory in these elections, although it did not regain its former popularity, however, the issue of power will most likely be decided by smaller parties, which have the opportunity to choose which of the “heavyweights” join an alliance.