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.
Allocation of seats in the Bundestag
Of the 709 Members of Parliament, the coalition partners account for 399 seats (CDU/CSU 246, SPD152). The opposition consists of the AfD (89 seats), FDP (80), The Left party (69) and Alliance 90/The Greens (67), plus six 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.
The Grand Coalition has achieved a great deal especially in the fields of labour and social affairs : The Skilled Worker Immigration Act which came into force on 1 March 2020 enables greater numbers of qualified skilled workers from non-EU Member States to emigrate to Germany. A monthly basic pension is also intended to improve the situation of many elderly people in Germany. As of 2021, pensioners who have worked for at least 33 years but have not earned very much will in addition receive up to 405 euros a month. The pension for mothers’ has also been improved. The Good Nursery Act was passed back in late 2018, making an additional 5.5 billion euros available to child-care facilities by 2022. The additional funds are intended to ensure the quality of the care and reduce parents’ financial burden.
The Energy Transition and climate protection have been advanced even further – renewable energies are on the way to becoming the decisive technology for generating electricity. Among other things, the Climate Action Programme adopted in 2019-2020 envisages CO2 emission charged for transport and buildings. The VAT rate for rail tickets was also lowered.
Cooperation in Europe
Germany works in close cooperation with its European partners in many areas. In January 2019, in the form of the “Treaty of Aachen”, Germany and France renewed the historical Élysée Treaty as the basis of their cooperation. In the second half of 2020, Germany will take over the EU Presidency. During that period the EU budget for the next seven years, to which Germany intends to contribute more than previously, is set to be adopted. Germany supports the EU Commission in its efforts to link the disbursement of funds from its budget to democratic principles and the rule of law.
Asylum and migration policy remain a challenge. Within the EU, Germany champions a joint approach. Demographic change and digitisation also entail new challenges for Germany in various areas.