It’s going to make for some complicated political math, but Angela Merkel has notched up a personal triumph in the German elections today. Her core center-right CDU/CSU partnership looks to have increased its share of the vote to some 42 percent of the poll, up from just under 34 percent last time round, something of a vindication of the way that the chancellor has dragged her feet over moves towards a deeper European monetary union (which would, of course, effectively be underwritten by the German taxpayer).
The complication comes from the fact that the results (so far) show that her erstwhile coalition partner, the (sort of) classically liberal FDP, has probably failed to cross the 5 percent threshold necessary to secure its return to parliament, thus depriving Merkel of an absolute majority. The FDP vote collapsed from nearly 15 percent in 2009 to some 4.8 percent today, only slightly more than the total (4.7 percent) managed by the euroskeptic Alternative for Deutschland. Given that the AfD was only founded early this year, that’s an impressive score, and it bodes well for the party’s prospects in elections for the EU parliament next year. Intriguingly, the essentially conservative AfD also appears to have drawn support from voters who previously opted for The Left, a party that is a rough descendant of the former East German Communists, a useful reminder that euroskepticism is not confined to the right (an electoral reality which Britain’s UKIP – victim of a rather torrid week – is also trying to mine).