Germany is not a presidential system, where only the two biggest parties matter.
A grand coalition (between the CDU-CSU and SPD) has been an exception rather than the norm (1966-1969, 2005-2009, 2013-2017).
The smaller parties, more often than not, become the second coalition partner and often shape policy significantly on certain key issues.
The FDP is set to return to the Bundestag after 5 years in wilderness, while the newly formed AfD is likely to enter it for the first time. For the Left Party and the Greens, the question will be how they can defend their positions.
This election may produce a number of constellations: grand coalition, CDU-CSU and FDP, CDU-CSU and Greens, or even CDU-CSU, FDP and Greens.
It is less likely that a left wing coalition can be cobbled together because of several significant differences in foreign policy between the Left Party and the SPD. Even a SPD-Greens-FDP is unlikely, as the FDP has very different policy goals to the SPD and Left Party.
If the federal elections happened this Sunday, would you vote for…
In contrast to the previous debate, many subjects were addressed.
Christian Lindner (FDP), Alice Weidel (AfD), Cem Özdemir (Grüne), Sahra Wagenknecht (Linke) and Joachim Herrmann (CSU) were asked to present their positions on digitisation, education, retirement, rent and social housing, refugee policy and the diesel scandal. The Left Party sees expanding the fibre optic network as a task for the state, while the FDP looks to private investors. Most candidates have been in favour of hiring more police staff.
AfD under fire
Because the AfD is the newest kid on the block, and has caused controversy with its anti-migration, anti-refugee and anti-muslim rhetoric, a lot of attention was directed at Alice Weidel. The weaknesses of the AfD were exposed as Weidel kept referring to the detrimental effects of European Central Bank policies and the euro on many policy areas, such as social housing. Moderator Sonia Mikich interrupted Weidel when she reiterated the fake news that permitted CO2 levels were higher inside buildings than on streets, and said: “That is wrong.”
Weidel has said her party was in favour of more deportations and for an upper limit to immigration. She even added that the Geneva convention should be renegotiated, and that controls should be reintroduced at German borders.
A surprise to the candidates was the announcement that they could ask each other questions. Özdemir tried to attack Herrmann on environmental policies in Bavaria, but it fell flat.
Sahra Wagenknecht took the opportunity to ask how Weidel felt about having “half-Nazis” in her party who would become members of parliament. Weidel answered that they were isolated cases and that its party members had the “highest academic qualifications” of all the parties. FDP candidate Lindner replied that “it was not about doctoral titles, but character.”