The German Federal Election will be held on the 24th of September, 2017, electing members to the Federal Bundestag, which will determine Germany’s next chancellor. Conducted under the specter of rising right-wing populism and the European migrant crisis, this election in Europe’s largest economy carries seminal importance for the future of Europe.
Polling Averages and Parties
There are six major parties contending the election, listed in the order of their 2013 results:
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) / Christian Social Union (CSU) – Led by Angela Merkel, the incumbent chancellor, this party is the primary center-right party in Germany, and has held the chancellorship since 2005. The CDU and the CSU are technically separate parties, with the CDU contending elections nationally and the CSU contending only in Bavaria. However, they are bound together closely and are for all intents and purposes the same party in federal elections.
Social Democratic Party (SDP)– Led by Martin Schulz, the former President of the European Parliament, this party is the primary center-left party in Germany. Together with the CDU/CSU, they have held the chancellorship in Germany since the second world war. Currently, they are the junior partner in a “Grand Coalition” with the CDU/CSU.
The Left (Die Linke) – Die Linke is a left-wing party descended from the remnants of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, which ruled the East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) during the cold war. The party espouses left-wing populism and democratic socialism. Despite its association with the East German dictatorship, this party retains its popularity among certain groups.
Alliance 90/The Greens (aka. Greens) – The Greens were formed from a union of civil rights activists (Alliance 90s) and Green politicians. The Greens are popular among younger, more liberal demographics.
Free Democratic Party (FDP) – The FDP are a liberal, pro-business party on the center to center-right in German politics. Although they are not currently not represented in parliament, they have been represented in every Bundestag before 2013 and remain an important factor in German politics. Their centrist position means they have served as a junior partner in coalitions for almost all of its history.
Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD) – The “black sheep” of the group, the AfD is a right-wing euro-skeptic populist party. Accused by those on the left for being too close to the neo-Nazi movement, the AfD looks poised to gain entry into the Bundestag for the first time in party history.
Germany operates under a Proportional Representation (PR) system, which means that the projected proportion of seats is nearly synonymous with the proportion of the popular vote. Thus, the projected seat totals very closely mirror the polling averages. Recent trends include the rapid rise of the SDP in the polls since their announcement of the widely popular Martin Schulz as their chancellor-candidate.
Currently, the CDU/CSU have a 70% chance of securing a plurality, and the SDP 30%. It is important to note that plurality does not equate with majority – it may very well be that a left-wing coalition of Die Linke, the Greens and the SDP form the next government. With the election happening over 5 months in the future, a lot is left up to chance.
Note: this forecast currently assumes that overhang seats are not a significant factor in the election, and that there will be a similar amount of seats compared to the previous Bundestag.