What is the main lesson of the German election?
There are two: the personalization of politics and the stunning volatility of parties’ approval ratings. Of course, both phenomena are interrelated.
What is the relationship between the market and democracy in the evolving German economic setup?
The three or four main topics of the campaign were socio-economic, not socio-cultural: social equality, safe pensions, good employment, and ecological transformation. No surprise that the “old left”, aka Social Democracy, fared better than the new. It is my impression that debates about redistribution are far less aggressive and divisive than those about identity. Maybe public discourse needs a break – so let’s talk about taxation a little longer!
What is the role – or ability – of the SPD to shape that change?
The profound malaise of German politics, at least in my perception, was caused by the lack of a viable alternative to a CDU-led government since 2005. It is a disaster for democracy if the democratic mechanism of alteration no longer functions. The big, extremely important contribution of the SPD for the future functioning of Germany’s parliamentary democracy has been that it can now credibly offer a real change in power (for the first time in 15 years!). Perhaps the rules governing German politics from the 1950s to 1980s can somehow be re-installed. Back then, the liberals enabled a shift in power from the CDU to SPD and back again. Now the Greens and liberals are together the new “king-makers”. Maybe if they enter an “Ampel” now, then they can travel to “Jamaica” in four years? This option alone frees Germany from the totally depressing outlook of an eternal CDU-technocracy.
What are the main tasks for the new government? And what is the best coalition to achieve this?
Its main task is to end the nearly two-decade long political paralysis of German politics. A red-green-yellow coalition would be the best to achieve exactly that.