The results of state elections in Berlin may be another indicator of an economic downturn.
By George Friedman
My apologies for constantly returning to Germany but for the moment it is the pivot of the world. Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world, the largest economy in Europe, the lender of last resort and the foundation of European stability. If Germany weakens or destabilizes, Europe destabilizes, and it is not too extreme to say that if Europe destabilizes, the world can as well. I am confident in saying I am not making too much of a small thing. In Sunday’s state election in Berlin, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) got 21.6 percent of the vote. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) got 17.6 percent. A party called Die Linke (or The Left) got 15.6 percent and the Greens got 15.2 percent, while the liberal Free Democrats garnered 6.7 percent. The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) won 14.2 percent.
The difference between AfD and the party that got the highest percentage of the vote was just 7.4 percent. Three other parties were jammed between these two. In other words, the electorate in the Berlin region is completely fragmented. Put another way, the mainstream SPD and CDU together got a little over a third of the vote. The rest went to anti-establishment parties, with the two left-wing parties, Die Linke and the Greens, getting over 30 percent combined and the anti-immigration party getting just under 15 percent.
Berlin does not represent all of Germany, but it is the capital. Therefore, the fact that the mainstream parties were together repudiated by the majority of voters is significant. In Berlin at least, the German political system has shattered. Even a coalition of the SPD and CDU wouldn’t be enough to rule. Adding the Greens (a sort of establishment party) wouldn’t give them a majority either.