After 16 years, Germany says goodbye with 80% approval of Chancellor Angela Merkel, at a time when the country is coming out of the pandemic and there is great expectation from the population and other countries about the new government. There was an unprecedented historic defeat of the coalition of Christian parties (CDU/CSU), which lost nearly 9% from the last election in 2017, when it had already been beaten by the more conservative electorate because of the welcoming policy towards Merkel’s migration.
The result of the CDU/CSU is a clear signal that the electorate expects a new orientation. Until a few months ago, polls pointed to a real possibility that the ball would pass to Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party, with about 25% of the vote. In the final stretch, the victory withered and the party was in third place, although still with an expressive vote.
The signal was clear: we want a strong ecological agenda on the new government’s agenda, but within a broader project
To the surprise of everyone and the Social Democrats themselves, the SPD (the traditional German Social Democratic Party) has risen from the ashes in recent months. After several defeats in the last elections, polls had indicated another drop, this time of around 5%, losing its centrality in the political debate. And the surprise: in four months, the SPD won about 10% of the electorate and took first place, with almost 26% of the vote.
Far from the more than 41% that Gerhard Schroeder became prime minister with in 1998 and the 46% of Willy Brandt in 1972, but enough to get the mandate and try to form the new government.
Historically, there is a large German economic presence in Brazil, especially through large and medium-sized companies, in addition to government cooperation, NGOs and party foundations, such as the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Konrad Adenauer, Rosa Luxemburg or Heinrich Bohl.
Another reason is the very strong presence in this electoral debate on the environmental issue, which also gained weight in Brazil, as well as the voices that want to put limits on market forces in social issues, with the defense of a decent minimum wage, scholarships for students, support for single mothers and recovery of union rights, among others. This experience and proposals can serve for our reflection, for better or for worse.
Third, there is a broader issue involving the growing rivalry between the US and China, and one that reverberates around the world. The future role of the Old Continent, squeezed between a US determined to maintain its hegemony on the one hand, and an expanding China on the other, depends a lot on its capacity to strengthen its integration, both to face the challenges of digitization (Industry 4.0) and to define your position in the world.
And in this Germany is crucial. Alone it represents about a quarter of the European Union’s economy, it is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of GDP, the third largest exporter and the country with the largest current account surplus. In other words, it has long been an economic power, but, from a geopolitical point of view, it is still small.
That began to change in the last of Angela Merkel’s four terms, which is now ending. There is an evident search for a position of greater autonomy. The completion of the Nordstream2 pipeline, which links Russia’s gas through the Baltic Sea to Germany without having to go through Ukraine and Poland, has met fierce opposition and US sanctions, but it was still recently completed and will go into operation later this year. year.
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Another example is the agreement on investment between China and the European Union, mainly the result of the efforts of the German government, concluded in December of last year, and which was also not welcomed by the US, which prefers coordinated negotiations under its leadership.
Fourthly and connected to the last issue, there is the Mercosur-European Union Agreement. Although the topic has been left out of the debates, the conclusion of negotiations between the two blocs, last year, after 20 years of coming and going, has a lot to do with the disposition of the German industry (automobile, capital goods and industry in particular) in defending its interests in the Southern Cone, especially in light of the strong advance of Chinese capital.
Paradoxically, it is also in Germany that there is strong opposition to the agreement from a significant part of public opinion because of the Bolsonaro government’s environmental policy, aggravated by its positions considered undemocratic in several other areas. One of the reasons for the delay in the implementation of what would be one of the biggest trade agreements in the world is due to this dynamic in German politics, on the eve of the elections.
* Giorgio Romano Schutte is professor of International Relations at UFABC and member of OPEB/UFABC – (Observatory of Foreign Policy and International Insertion of Brazil – Federal University of ABC)
Edition: Vinícius Segalla