Germany’s election last week heralded the end of Angela Merkel’s time in office and the end of an era, both for the country and the European Union.
She was sworn into office in 2005 and remained in power for 16 years after that, winning four consecutive elections in the process.
Being the leader of one of the EU’s most influential countries, Merkel is also credited with having shaped European and global politics, serving as a beacon of stability through several global crises and events.
Given Germany’s dominant position within the EU, the election of a new chancellor is sure to have a considerable impact on the union going forward.
Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) claimed victory in the election, obtaining 206 seats in the German parliament, with talks currently underway to establish which coalition will govern the country for the next five years.
Lovin Malta asked Malta’s MEPs for their reactions to the election results, and the imminent change that this will bring with it.
Roberta Metsola (PN)
Nationalist Party MEP Roberta Metsola started off by noting the unpredictability of the situation.
“The result was very close so I expect that coalition talks will continue for a number of weeks.
What is positive is that the pro-European centre of German politics remains the driving force.
This election will also see Chancellor Angela Merkel’s term soon come to an end,” Metsola told Lovin Malta.
“Chancellor Merkel has been the focal point of German and European politics for a generation.
Few have her staying power, resilience, and vision. As she bows out, it is her legacy, her value-based leadership, her clarity of thought, that must continue to shape our European outlook for years to come,” she said.
Alex Agius Saliba (PL)
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba described the SPD’s victory as a victory for Europe’s centre-left.
“It also sends a strong message that our citizens believe in Social Europe with its democratic values. At the European level, Socialists and Democrats can make a difference in our citizens’ lives and respond to new global challenges, by leaving no one behind,” Agius Saliba told Lovin Malta.
“Member States are stronger together in working on progressive reforms towards a more sustainable, equal, and fair socio-economic model of the European Union.”
Cyrus Engerer (PL)
Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer said how “the result signals the strengthening of a positive progressive direction for Europe that focuses on a just ecological transition in a united European Union of equality.”
“This is an exciting time for Europe where we are discussing the future of our Union together with citizens. The message is clear, we must address inequalities and the climate and ecological crises with a stronger resolve,” he said.
David Casa (PN)
Nationalist Party MEP David Casa started off by saying that “the German election will have repercussions for the European bloc – for now, it is premature to determine what they are exactly.
“In the last 16 years, Merkel has exhibited impressive leadership in the many crises that have faced not only Germany, but the continent: be it the debt crisis, the Russian threat, or the economic response to the coronavirus pandemic that has so far defied recovery expectations,” Casa said.
“Merkel will leave the office with her head held high, supported by a grateful Germany and Europe. In truth, a modest victory for the Social Democratic Party means the election is far from over. In the next few weeks, the political parties must haggle to form likely uncomfortable alliances to form the next government, as observers predict the need for a three-party coalition. Until then, Germany will very likely continue to be led by Merkel in a caretaker capacity.”
Josianne Cutajar (PL)
“The German Federal election results show a considerable advance of progressive parties. Naturally, as socialists, this is music to our ears as the fact that our German equivalent has become Germany’s largest party,” said Labour MEP Josianne Cutajar.
“However, it is still unclear how long it will take to form a new government, which, for the first time might need the confidence of at least three parties. I am confident that the socialist candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, known for his pragmatism, will do his best to build a strong coalition with other centrist and progressive parties, focused on the future challenges of the environmental and the digital transition.”
“I also hope that this will result in European policies taking a more social turn, with “a more social Europe” being showcased through policies and legislation and not just words. As Germany has the European Union’s largest population and largest economy, it goes without saying that it has a considerable say in the European institutions. And having a socialist voice in the European Council in the form of what we hope will be Chancellor Olaf Scholz is something that I very much look forward to,” she concluded.
Alfred Sant (PL)
Labour MEP Alfred Sant noted how “firstly, the dominance, not to say hegemony of the centre-right over the German political scene has been broken.”
“The socialists seem to have recovered from the political doldrums they were forced into as a result of the Schroeder reforms, back in the early 2000s. But now both the centre-right and centre-left are in a relatively weak state compared to when they were the top dogs. A grand coalition between them seems not on the cards and the way is open for three (at least) way coalitions. Setting them up will be a complex affair as will running them. Most likely German policymaking will become even more incremental than it has ever been (with the exception recently of the reaction to the pandemic),” the Labour MEP said.
“Secondly, there will be little change in the short term, on German substantive input to European policy-making, since there is a wide margin of agreement within Germany it seems to me, on how to run European affairs. With the departure of Merkel though and the possible arrival of a socialist chancellor, the locus of decision making over the medium term, will not turn so much on the German position or even around German proposals.”
This article forms part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. These articles reflect only the authors’ views. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information these articles contain.
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