Germany: Weimarization or “new normalcy“ in Europe? Elections in times of the refugee crisis

Three similarities (or one generalization) can be established from the results of all three state elections ("Landtagswahlen") taking place in Germany last night. The second and third one are reminiscent of the pre-Nazi era in Germany, the Weimar Republic (1919-1932).

The first one: In all three elections, the incumbents, more due to their own charisma, less due to their party affiliations, came out as winners, sometimes even with significant gains.
 It became pretty clear early on in the evening, that Chancellor Merkel's party, CDU, has failed to re-gain state governments in two states of Southwestern Germany, Baden-Württemberg (10,7 million) and Rhineland-Palatinate (4 million), and has just barely managed to keep one in the Northeastern state of Saxony-Anhalt (2,2 million inhabitants).

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) with Winfried Kretschmann (Green Party), since 2011
Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, the third largest German state ("Land") by population and one of three states where parliamentary elections were held yesterday, Sunday (March 13th)

The Chancellor's Christian Democratic Union suffered a disastrous result in its former stronghold Baden-Württemberg, where it had constantly governed for more than 40 years, until 2011, with almost a third of the seats lost, and for the first time, also the position as first party, which the Greens (normally and elsewhere a party of around 5-10% of votes) won, edging out the CDU's measly 27% with a result of 30 %. Many see this mainly due to the personality of of Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann, in contrast to the weak candidate of the CDU, Guido Wolf. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the CDU also failed, with Julia Klöckner, who is seen by many as one of the most hopeful possible successors of Ms. Merkel as party leader or even chancellor, losing to incumbent Marie Luise ("Malu") Dreyer of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). And in the Northeastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, the CDU's Rainer Haseloff is set to remain in power, although with a reduced majority and a new coalition.

And this is the second parallel: New coalitions will have to be formed. In all three states, the most likely outcome is a „Grand Coalition“ of the two biggest parties or even a three-party-coalition. This is becoming the "new normalcy", after decades of post-war Germany, when either a centre-right (CDU with the FDP (i.e. Liberal Democrats)) or a centre-left coalition (SPD with either the FDP, the Greens or (in East Germany) with "Die Linke" (the socialist "Left Party")) was almost always possible; now it's almost never and almost nowhere possible anymore across Germany. This “new normalcy“ is that there are now five parties in all of these (and now in most state) parliaments (as was also the case in the federal parliament (Bundestag) between 1990 and 2013, with a Grand Coalition CDU-SPD governing from 2005 to 2009 and again since 2013). Thus, the governing coalitions failed to gain the majorities that they won five years ago in all of the three states. A Green-CDU “Grand“ coalition is likely in Baden-Württemberg, a SPD-CDU coalition in Rhineland-Palatinate (they would be holding 60% and 75% of the seats, respectively) and a CDU-SPD-Green (“black traffic light“) coalition in Saxony-Anhalt (in this Eastern state, even those three parties together would barely have a majority (46 to the opposition 41). This “new normalcy“ reminds us of the situation in the Weimar Republic (1919-1932), a time of instability due to constant changes of governments and coalitions, with a multitude of parties, increasing radicalization, and the disaster of the coming into power of the fascist Nazi regime in 1933.


The logo of the far-right "Alternative for Germany", originally founded as
a neoliberal 
anti-Euro, Eurosceptic party in mid-2013, but having taken a clearly far-right
last summer (July 2015) at the beginning of the refugee crisis.

Which is linked directly to the third parallel: