Regarding arithmetics the centre-left parties won a slim majority in the elections, however, a mathematical majority is not a political one.
Nonetheless the starting point for a social Left was and still is better than rarely before. “Social justice” is the central topos of the social and political atmosphere in Germany. Gabriel, the leader of the SPD, commented the reorientation process of the social democracy – which was initiated after the atrocious election results in 2009 – also in terms of a criticism of the neoliberal deregulation and privatisation policy: The “taming of capitalism” would more than ever be the task of the SPD and European social democracy as such. “Today we know that freedom, democracy and social justice won’t merely establish themselves as ‘a historical necessity’. It happens again and again that hard-fought achievements of the past are jeopardised. I do hope though that it won’t take us another ten years to get a grip on our biggest problem at present, the taming of financial capitalism. This is now our single most important task!”
All the same the SPD already implied in the evening of the election that it will aid the CDU/CSU to form a majority in a grand coalition for the new legislative period. The crux of the matter: When they enter the Merkel-government this fast, they won’t have time to look into the reasons why their 150-year-old party lately is incapable of generating majorities and thus solely remains with one fourth of the votes.
The result of the Greens is hardly surprising. In the 2009 elections 10.7% marked their promotion in the top league of party politics. In the light of the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima they became increasingly popular two years ago. Of course poll ratings from over 20% were but an overstatement which they realistically couldn’t keep up in the long run, however, in spring experts still predicted 15-16% for the Greens, leading to euphoria in the party. A result significantly better than in 2009 seemed to be within grasp. After the defeat unrest is growing in the committees, the party leadership has announcend a restart in staff and content. Where the journey will lead and who will operate the green bus remains sketchy though.
The Left party surprised with its respectable result, it came third before the Greens and CSU. Compared to 2009 the party couldn’t mobilise 1.5 million of their then voters, however, their 8.6% nationwide as well as their return into the Hessische Landtag weren’t even anticipated by party insiders themselves several weeks ago. Also in the Western provinces they passed the 5%-mark, which emphasises their role as a federal party and most certainly has to be accredited to the new faction- and party leadership.
The Left party won’t have to face any pressure concerning the formation of a coalition and government. Other than the social democrats their success will enable them to critically assess their organisation and reinforce their political strategy – such as evaluating the losses they suffered in the Eastern German provinces. A self-aware Left will have to face the fact that interferences in the distribution ratio will have effects on the production structure. A reformatory power must thus seek competences in economy and labour as to make a cross-party project of social transformation capable of winning a majority.
Translation: Tanja Mikolasch
Abridged version; original analysis (23/09/2013) in German to be found on: