15:52 GMT +318 August 2019
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    Professor: The Grand Coalition in Berlin Is Obviously on the Brink of Collapse

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    With the recent collapse in main parties support after the results of the Bavarian parliamentary election Germany faces another uncertain period while a coalition administration is formed. Sputnik spoke about this with Christian Schweiger, visiting professor and chair in comparative European governance systems at Chemnitz University of Technology.

    Sputnik: How would you conclude and define the results that have happened?

    Christian Schweiger: It obviously fits into the overall trend into the continuous decline of the two largest parties, the former 'catch all parties', the parties that used to be able to absorb a lot of people from across the society in Germany, the CDU/CSU and the SPD. In the case of the CSU it’s a particularly bad result because obviously Bavaria has always been its heartland, its political heartland, they actually govern in this region for decades with only very, very tiny interludes where they didn’t have an absolute majority to drop by over 10% in the election result is quite a big blow to them and now they obviously have to make a lot more compromises on governing, they will govern again but they will have to govern in coalition with  either the Greens or with the so-called independent electoral association, and for the SPD that traditionally was never very strong in Bavaria it was still a very, very bad result because they basically dropped from 20% to less than 10%, so from double digit figures to single digit fingers, it doesn’t bear very well for the overall trend for the SPD in Germany and they have to ask themselves a lot of questions.

    Sputnik: The CSU leadership under Söder and the party leader Horst Seehofer — who is also the Federal Interior Minister — did its best to blame the growing instability in Bavaria on Merkel's refugee policy, what can you add to that? Obviously it’s one of the key elements with regard to this particular result, is it the main reason though?

    Christian Schweiger: You have to differentiate, I think the strong focus of the CSU, not just Seehofer, but also Bavarian Prime Minister Söder on this issue, on the migration issue, actually harmed the CSU, one of the analyst said that it opened up the path to many voters of the CSU moving towards the Greens because they simply thought that the CSU was to inhumane in treating asylum seekers, in deporting them too quickly, so I think they underestimated how many of the traditional CSU voters did not agree with this stance and, moreover, I think a part of those who voted for AfD this time the majority of voters had other issues too, like the lack of teachers in the schools, particularly big issue with the affordability of rental property in bigger cities like to Munich and Nuremberg and the CSU simply did not provide convincing answers for these people, after all, the CSU had governed for decades on its own so people, obviously, are looking for something new, and I think both Söder and Seehofer underestimated that people were to some extent worried about the migration issue but on the other hand were worried about many other issues, particularly, social problems.

    Sputnik: Now the fallout over the refugee crisis and disputes between Seehofer and Merkel over how to control Germany’s borders have almost led to the collapse of her fragile coalition, what effects now is this particular result going to have on the fragility of this coalition because this is a massive blow on the face of it when you think about the strength of support for the CSU and the CDU party from Bavaria for the last 50-60 years, what affects is it going to have on the coalition now then?

    Christian Schweiger: The grand coalition in Berlin is obviously almost on the brink of collapse. There’s a realistic possibility that the SPD will pull out simply because if it faces more defeats in the upcoming elections, for example, in Hessen, in Saxony it is likely that more and more Social Democrats will say we have to get out and renew ourselves in opposition, but just for now, for the immediate future, the focus will be on Seehofer, many of the SPD representatives in government want him to resign, if he stays on the tensions will continue and the particularly the tensions between him and Merkel, so I expect to see a lot more instability, a lot more infighting and ultimately the only party that will really benefit from that enormously will be the AfD, in some areas also the Green Party, particularly, in West Germany, but the AfD is likely to rise further if the grand coalition is seen as not delivering and continuing to be embroiled in internal warfare.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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