Last Thursday, when we could only speculate on how Germany would vote, WEurope invited Daniela Jansen (former member of Landtag North Rhine-Westphalia), Joost Reinaerts (activist in the border region), and Daniel Walter (parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament) to speak about the elections. The intimate setting in a café in Maastricht allowed for an in-depth discussion:
“Sie Machen den kaffee, ich bringe den Kuchen mit.” SPD banners announced that people could invite politicians at their homes to debate, while enjoying a cup of coffee. Does this also work to appeal to young voters? Which other strategies were adopted to win votes? Daniela, Joost and Daniel talked to us about the ins and outs of the campaigns.
Explaining the basics
The party system in Germany differs greatly from the Dutch electoral system. So how does it work? Reporter Anne explained with the help of this video made by the WEurope Reporters in Germany.
Big election themes
Housing policy, refugee crisis and pensions. These are the three themes that gained most attention during the elections, according to Daniela. Europe was not really in debate, Daniel elaborated. Coming from Kerkrade, Joost stipulated that a right wing victory in Germany can have a huge impact on people living in the border region. Many Dutch and German people benefit from open borders and a shared currency, while the far right propagates the closing of borders. He also mentioned that nowadays there exist ‘new borders’: people are focused more upon their own countries. While people in Limburg used to speak German quite well twenty years ago, nowadays people talk English to each other.
On Thursday, Daniela said to be hopeful SPD would do well: “The race between the different parties is open until Saturday, there is still a chance to narrow the gaps shown by the polls.” However, Germany has decided differently. The SDP slumped to 20.7% and declared to go into opposition. Chancellor Merkel won her fourth consecutive national election but slumping to 33%, Merkel’s CDU had their worst showing since 1949. Far right AfD took 12.6% of the vote, becoming the third party of the country and the first far-right party to win seats in the Bundestag since World War II. It is now up to the CDU to form a majority coalition. Having excluded cooperation with Die Linke and the AfD, Merkel is left with only one option: the so-called ‘Jamaica-coalition’, consisting of the CDU, die Grünen and the liberal FDP. Who would have thought?