The political deadlock in German parliament is over as Angela Merkel has been re-elected to a fourth term. Lawmakers voted in favor of re-electing Merkel, 364 to 315. Merkel ran unopposed. One of the key factors to Merkel finally securing her re-election is the coalition between her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), which was even bolstered by the two being joined by CDU’s Bavaria-only sister party the Christian Social Union which has 399 seats.
Merkel’s re-election marks an end to five months of political uncertainty in Germany. It has been the longest the country has been without a government in its post-war history.
Europe’s largest economy continues to enjoy good times even with the political deadlock. Merkel will start her fourth term as chancellor with the economic fundamentals of Germany more than sound- unemployment is almost non-existent, stock prices are at record highs, and there’s no problem with inflation.
However, there’s no denying that Merkel’s road to reelection was replete with political compromises that experts say could bring the economic boom to an end. Merkel bowed to the demands of her party’s junior coalition partner and agreed to roll back deregulation that ever since 2005 has unleashed the country’s economy.
Despite the affluence of Germany as Europe’s economic powerhouse, many people do not feel that life is actually great in their country. Wages have not improved, jobs are not as secure, and many Germans believe “the good times have passed them by.”
One glaring evidence of people’s restlessness in Germany was last year’s election results where many angry voters abandoned the two centrist parties, CDU and SPD in favor of minority parties, especially the far-right Alternative for Germany.
Merkel made concessions in order to get reluctant Social Democrats to sign up for a coalition government- a move that critics say would take Germany back to a time when the country looked more like France, with such rules that protected workers from dismissal, provided a broad safety net and squashed entrepreneurship and growth.
The power-sharing agreement entered by Merkel with the Social Democrats gives the latter more influence over policy than in their previous coalition, which ruled until last year’s elections.