On September 22, German voters went to the polls, re-electing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party with a decisive 42 percent of the vote. The dramatic victory for Merkel makes her only the third chancellor in Germany’s post-war history to secure three election wins and the only leader of a eurozone nation to be reelected since the worsening of economic crisis in 2010. Despite the CDU’s electoral gains, Merkel must now turn elsewhere to secure a governing majority as her former coalition partner, the Free Democrats, failed to secure enough votes to stay in parliament. As Europe’s economic powerhouse and, increasingly, its political leader, the results of Germany’s election and how the coalition is constructed will have critical implications for the euro crisis, the future of the European Union, and transatlantic relations.
On October 4, the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) at Brookings and the Heinrich Böll Foundation of North America hosted a panel discussion to assess the election and its significance. The panel featured Ralf Fücks of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin; former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy; and Georg Mascolo, former editor of Der Spiegel. CUSE Director Fiona Hill provided introductory comments and moderated the discussion.