Germany is a value-based, democratic, economically successful, and cosmopolitan country. The political landscape is diverse. Following the elections for the 19th German Bundestag (2017) initially the CDU/CSU, which emerged from the elections as the largest party, explored the option of a coalition government with the FDP and Alliance 90/The Greens. The talks failed. Subsequently the CDU/CSU and SPD formed a Grand Coalition in March 2018 after tough coalition talks and an SPD members’ vote. The previous legislative period had already seen such an alliance of the two strongest forces in the German party system. Of the 709 Members of Parliament, the coalition partners account for 399 seats (CDU/CSU 246, SPD 153). The opposition consists of the AfD (92 seats), FDP (80), The Left party (69) and Alliance 90/The Greens (67), plus two independent MPs. The right-wing populist Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, AfD) is represented in the Bundestag for the first time. Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel (CDU) has been head of government since 2005 and is now in her fourth term. She is the first woman in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany to hold this office. Deputy Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Federal Minister of Finance) and Heiko Maas (Federal Foreign Minister) are important representatives of the SPD in the Cabinet. The Cabinet is made up of 14 ministers and the Head of the Federal Chancellery. The Coalition Agreement entitled “A New Awakening for Europe, a New Dynamic for Germany, a New Cohesion for Our Country” serves as the basis of the government parties’ joint work.
In 2018, the German economy will enter its ninth year of consecutive growth, employment is at a record high, and government revenue and national insurance contributions have risen. New debt assumed by central government has been reduced to zero. The Energy Transition is being driven forward – renewable energies are on the way to becoming the decisive technology for generating electricity.
Together, the people in Germany have made the gradual fusion of east and west Germany, a major issue since Reunification in 1990, into a success story. The “Solidarity Pact II”, for which 156.5 billion euros are set aside, will remain in force until 2019. All tax-paying citizens in the east and west continue to play a joint role in the “Aufbau Ost” project to redevelop the east through the “solidarity surcharge”, a supplementary contribution which today stands at 5.5 percent of personal income tax.
That said, new tasks await. As in other industrialised countries, demographic change is regarded as a challenge. The topics of immigration and integration are also high on the agenda. The result of the Bundestag electionsis an expression of the uncertainty and dissatisfaction felt by many people, and as such the Federal Government aims to, as stated in the Coalition Agreement, “safeguard that which is good, but at the same time demonstrate the courage to engage in political debate and bring about renewal and change”.