German capitalism – a success story?

Michael Roberts analizează așa zis-ul succes al capitalismului german și rezultatul alegerilor de ieri.

The German election has produced a victory for right-wing German Chancellor Mrs Angela Merkel, the best result for her party since 1990.  However, the existing coalition of Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU), the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) and the small Free Democrats (FDP) cannot continue because the FDP failed to make the 5% voting share threshold to enter the German parliament (Bundestag).  The FDP vote is hugely down from 14.6% in 2009.   Most of those lost votes went to the CDU.  So even though Merkel’s CDU-CSU bloc has polled the most at about 42.5%, up from 34% in 2009, it will have to try to form a grand coalition with the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), which polled 26%, up a bit from the all-time post-war low of 23% that the SPD got in 2009.  The Greens polled badly at 8% (down from 10.7% in 2009) and were passed by the Left Bloc (die Linke) which polled 8.5%.  So, although old coalition polled 47% (compared to 48% in 2009) over the ‘left’ (SPD, Greens and die Linke) with 43% (down from 46% in 2009), Mrs Merkel must find new coalition partners.

Germany is the largest and most important capitalist economy in Europe, if not yet the most important European imperialist power (there it vies with the UK and France).  It is the main creditor and funder of the Eurozone member states.  So what does this election campaign and result tell us about the future of German capitalism and the strategy being adopted by its political leaders?

On the surface, all looks good for the economic health of Germany as there appears to be very little difference on policy between the CDU and the SPD.  You would find it hard to push a sheet of paper between them on major policy issues for Germany.  So it seems likely that a Grand Coalition between the CDU-CSU and SPD will be formed with two-thirds of the seats in parliament and German capitalism looks set fair for the status quo for another four years.

However that is too simple a calculation.  There are new economic and political pressures for German capitalism that will make it more unstable than before.  The first thing is that there has been a long-term trend in German (and other Euro) politics: namely, the fragmentation of electoral votes from two or three parties into several.  That’s a recipe for instability and paralysis, as we have seen in Greece, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands etc.  This election has slightly reversed that trend with the two main parties polling about 56% compared to 50% last time, but that is no better than in 2005.  Some 16% of votes will not be represented in parliament due to the 5% hurdle — more than ever before.  The turnout may be slightly better than in the recession year 2009 at 73%, but it’s well down from the 1990s.

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