German sitting Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) is applauded after the preliminary exit poll at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party's headquarters in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 24, 2017. The conservative union led by German sitting Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday defended its dominant role in the Bundestag (German parliament) with 32.5 percent of the vote, according to the preliminary exit poll. (Xinhua/Luo Huanhuan)
German voters cast their ballots on Sunday during the country's federal elections. Exit polls suggest that the CDU/CSU alliance, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, has garnered 32.5 percent of the votes. Meanwhile, SPD, the Social Democratic party, has claimed 20 percent. The right-wing AfD emerged as Germany's third-strongest party with a 13.5 percent share of ballots cast.
The election result should not affect the chance of Merkel taking her fourth term as the country's chancellor. Once she officially assumes the position, it will place her next to Helmut Koh who held the office for 16 years. Undoubtedly, this will happen as Germany has remained politically stable for decades.
Donald Trump was seen as a representative of populism in being elected to the White House, while Britain has withdrawn from the EU, and France has seen the two dominant parties meet a disastrous defeat by Emmanuel Macron. Germany seems to be the West's last hope for maintaining stability and the elections turned out to be fiercer than expected.
With fewer votes, it will be harder for the CDU/CSU alliance to form a coalition government, but Merkel will remain a strong leader in a country where no political party can win overwhelmingly. Perhaps in the West it is only Germany where one can possibly rule the country for 16 years, but also people want stable policies rather than party politics.
Germany has seen sounder economic development than any other European country and the highest political certainty in the West. At the same time, Germany faces no fewer issues than other Western countries that may have to deal with political crises. For instance the refugee crisis, Merkel has adopted the most radical open policy, but the issue seemed to be considerably played down in the elections.
Germany has a greater consensus than other Western countries that feature diversity, with some believing that the chancellor's long tenure is an abandonment of a ruling party rotation. Germany has distinctly avoided the frequent government changes of Italy and back-and-forth of barbs between candidates in the US presidential elections.
These days, it's easy to find problems but not so easy to deal with them. In a society with elections, voters can be spoiled by welfare, which can erode its competitiveness. The West is in dire need of an authority who can make rational choices, something Merkel has proven she can do with relative success.
National governance faces new challenges worldwide as globalization and the Internet change what's inside and outside society. People have no patience for long-term policies. So governments either look for short-term effects or arouse extreme emotions to support their policies. Nonetheless, Germany has seen few setbacks in this regard and it has gone down its own path. Merkel has made herself unbeatable in the 21st century and brought a bigger miracle than Kohl's.
The result of this latest election indicates the populist ideology currently rising in many Western countries has a presence in Germany. However, the country has maintained positive economic stability while also protecting itself from terrorism. Right now, as Europe remains engulfed in a sea of uncertainty, Germany stands at a crossroads.
The Ultra-Right political party in France was prevented from gaining state power, and now Germany has just narrowly maintained its political path. During the country's next phase, it will be suspenseful to see if traditional political lines can reclaim the power it once had, or whether or not right-wing forces will gain more momentum.
In today's world, certainty has become a scarce commodity. If significant political change occurs in other major countries, similar to the US and UK, it will be hard to envision the future of the world. Worldwide governance needs ballasts and anchors to help stabilize the globe. We can only hope that Germany will be able to steady itself quickly once they overcome a few disturbances.