Germany

A Leftwing Alternative For Germany After Berlin Vote?

Die Tageszeitung, Sept. 19

Another election, another humbling defeat for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a Berlin state vote, Merkel's CDU party polled 17.6% — its lowest showing since 1990, figures from public broadcaster ARD showed on Monday. It's the second poll drubbing as CDU got crushed just two weeks before in an eastern German state election.

The anti-immigration Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), or the Alternative for Germany, a far-right upstart, snatched 14.2% of the vote in Berlin, riding a backlash against Merkel's open-door policy for refugees. Although Merkel's conservatives came in second place, its lower numbers mean the end of their "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats SPD, which topped the election with 21.6% of the vote. SPD's celebrations would be muted, however, as it's down almost 7 percentage points from the last election.

Left-leaning Die Tageszeitung newspaper sees CDU's descent as an opportunity for a different sort of "alternative for Germany," namely a grand coalition of the left, rather than the right-wing alternative AfD proposes. As an editorial in today's newspaper explains, the center-left SPD and Green party are often reluctant to work with far-left Die Linke party. They've previously preferred to team up with center-right CDU, a move the paper describes as "political nonsense."

But with both Greens and Die Linke each taking a respectable chunk of the vote — each polled about 15% — a new kind of coalition is possible, the Die Tageszeitung notes. "We could almost thank the AfD for that," the paper says, arguing that a grand coalition of the left would show that a "real alternative" in Germany is possible with general elections just a year away.