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Annie Gugliotta

2021: Groundhog Day in a G-Zero world

Did 2021 actually happen, or are we still stuck in 2020? So many things seem to have barely changed this year. After all, we’re entering yet another holiday season worried about a fresh wave of the pandemic, and uncertain about what comes next for our economies and our politics.

In a lot of ways, the past 365 days feel like a year of unfulfilled promise. Let’s have a look back at what did, and did not happen in 2021.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends a news conference in the Federal Chancellery following the video conference with the country's 16 state leaders on the surge in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, in Berlin, Germany, December 9, 2021.

Michael Kappeler/Pool via REUTERS

Enter Olaf — can he keep Germany’s traffic light blinking?

As of this week, for the first time since Gwen Stefani was topping the charts with Hollaback Girl, Germany is not run by a person named Angela.

Olaf Scholz — the pragmatic, robotic, determined leader of the center-left SPD party — now holds the reins of Europe’s largest economy.

But he also leads a three-party coalition, the first in Germany’s modern history, with the progressively, climate conscious Greens and the business-friendly fiscal hawks of the Free Democrats party. The coalition is known as the “traffic light” owing to the colors of its three members.

Here are a few immediate and longer-term challenges for Scholz.

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What We're Watching: Germany's next government taking shape

Who's going to run Germany? With coalition negotiations now reportedly in the home stretch, we could know what the next German government looks like as soon as Monday or Tuesday. Following elections that were held back in September, the center-left SPD, headed by Chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz, has been hammering together a three-way coalition with the progressive Greens and the fiscal hawks of the Free Democrats Party. One big question mark is whether the spendthrift Greens or the tighter-pursestrings FDP will get the powerful finance ministry portfolio. Meanwhile, Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock is expected to become Germany's first female foreign minister, part of Scholz's larger pledge to ensure that the cabinet is split 50:50 between men and women.

What We’re Watching: German coalition talks, India’s power woes, Oz closes PNG migrant facility

German kingmakers make their pick: Despite fears of a drawn-out process that could take months like in 2017, the Greens and the pro-business FDP have taken less than two weeks to decide whom they want to team up with in a three-way coalition government. The two parties are now talking to the left-of-center SPD, which narrowly won the September 26 federal election. Good news for those hoping to have a new government in place before Christmas, since it'll be easier for the SPD to agree on stuff with its two junior partners than for the Greens and the FDP to find common ground themselves. Bad news for the conservative CSU/CDU, which has governed Germany for 16 years under Chancellor Angela Merkel but is likely headed to the opposition after achieving its worst election result ever.

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German Election Outcome Begins New Era of Three-Party Cooperation | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

German election outcome begins new era of three-party cooperation

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What about the outcome of the German election?

Well, as expected, the Social Democrats under Olaf Scholz came out on top. They had a very credible campaign, presenting him primarily not as a Social Democrat, but as a possible successor to Angela Merkel. Then, It's going to take quite some time to form a new government and the exact outcome of that, not entirely certain.

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The Graphic Truth: Germany's fading establishment parties

Germany's conservative CDU/ CSU party and the center-left SPD have dominated German politics since the 1950s. For decades, they have vied for dominance and often served in a coalition together, and have been known as the "people's parties" – a reference to their perceived middle-of-the-road pragmatism and combined broad appeal to the majority of Germans. But that's all changing, as evidenced by the fact that both performed poorly in this week's election, shedding votes to the minority Greens and pro-business Free Democrats. We take a look at the CDU/CSU and SPD's respective electoral performance over the past 60 years.

Ian Bremmer: Looking Ahead to a Post-Merkel Europe | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Looking ahead to a post-Merkel Europe

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Happy week to all of you and thought I'd talk a little bit about Germany and Europe. Because of course, we just had elections in Germany, 16 years of Angela Merkel's rule coming to an end - by far the strongest leader that Germany has seen post-war, Europe has seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. And indeed in many ways, the world has seen in the 21st century. Xi Jinping, of course, runs a much bigger country and has consolidated much more power, but in terms of the free world, it's been Angela Merkel.

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Gabriella Turrisi

Germany’s frenemy kingmakers

The German people have spoken. For the first time in over 70 years, the country's next government is all but assured to be a three-way coalition.

That coalition will probably be led by the center-left SPD, the most voted party, with the Greens and the pro-business FDP as junior partners. Less likely but still possible is a similar combination headed by the conservative CDU/CSU, which got its worst result ever. A grand coalition of the SPD and the CDU/CSU — the two parties that have dominated German federal politics since World War II — is only a fallback option if talks fail badly.

Both the Greens and especially the FDP have been in coalition governments before. But this time it's different because together they have the upper hand in negotiations with the big parties wooing them.

The problem is that the two smaller parties agree on little beyond legalizing weed, and even when they do, diverge on how to reach common goals. So, where does each stand on what separates them?

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