By Alejandro Honeker

Germany prepares to choose a new Parliament on Sunday and, according to the latest polls, anything could happen. First of all, let’s mention this (believe me, it’s going to be easier later on): Black = Christian Democrats (CDU) --or, more exactly, CDU+CSU--, red = Social Democrats (SPD), yellow = liberals (FDP), and green equals, well, green. Since no party is considering a coalition with the far-left Left Party, we’ll leave it out of the equation. In order to form government, a party (or a coalition of parties) needs to get at least 50 per cent of the vote. Currently, no single party is in a position to form government by itself; therefore, all of them need to form a coalition in order to be in government. The two biggest parties (the center-right CDU and the center-left SPD) have been governing Germany in an odd ‘grand coalition’ since the federal election of 2005. Despite the apparent success of the grand coalition (the majority of Germans hold a positive view of it), both parties have suffered from it (especially the SPD, which is the minor partner in the coalition and does not hold the Chancellor post), with many free-market conservatives leaving the CDU and going to the liberal FDP and many left-leaning SPD voters defecting to the Left Party (that explains the rise of both in the polls). On the other hand, the Greens have remained in their historic numbers (around 10%), though have been sent to the fifth place (behind the Left). ?

The latest Spiegel Online Poll Barometer shows us the following scenario: the CDU leading with 33% (although going down in the last week), the SPD second with a meager 25%, the FDP showing a strong 14% (and going up), the Left Party fourth with 12%, and the Greens fifth with 10%. The parties’ preferred coalitions in this election would be, on the one hand, CDU and FDP, and, on the other hand, SPD and Greens (remember that no party wants to associate itself with the far left; at least not for now). However, according to current poll numbers, neither of these conventional coalitions would win if the election were held today (one day before the election). The black/yellow coalition is the only conventional coalition with a chance of passing the magic 50%. The red/green coalition has no chance whatsoever (unless, of course, they betray their promise of not allying with the Left). This leads us to three main possible –and unconventional- scenarios: 1) another black/red ‘grand coalition,’ 2) a ‘Jamaica coalition’ (black + yellow + green) or 3) a ‘traffic light coalition’ (red + green + yellow).

Anything could happen, but, with the numbers we have right now, I would say that the two most likely governing coalitions are: first, a black/yellow coalition of Merkel’s Christian Democrats and Westerwelle’s Liberals (which would be a political triumph for Merkel and a comeback for the liberals); and second, another black/red ‘grand coalition’ (which would represent a political defeat for Angela Merkel). I see it highly unlikely that either the Liberals or the Greens will join the other side. They are farther apart ideologically than in previous elections. Personally, I’d like to see a ‘Jamaica coalition’ of Christian Democrats, Liberals and Greens, but ain’t gonna happen. Of course, in my ideal world, I’d like to see Guido Westerwelle as German Chancellor and the Liberals as the main party of government, but ain’t gonna happen either. For the moment, I’ll be happy to just enjoy another election night (or afternoon in this part of the planet) on TV and the internet. Time to set up my election HQ at home…