Marc Debus, Holger Döring, Alejandro Ecker
Germany: From Stable Coalition Camps to New Complexity

S. 247-283 in: Torbjörn Bergman, Hanna Bäck, Johan Hellström (Hrsg.): Coalition Governments in Western Europe. 2021. Oxford: Oxford University Press
[Comparative Politics]

This chapter aims at presenting the characteristics of cabinets in Germany, in particular for the cabinets formed since the beginning of the twenty-first century. The chapter covers two decades of coalition dynamics and an era that has led to significant changes in German politics in general and the German party system in particular. The electoral support for the two catch-all parties – Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) decreased in that time period, while the increased number of parliamentary parties and the increasing vote share for the smaller parties resulted in a more complex bargaining environment. We also discuss changes in the policy profiles of the parliamentary parties and how potential coalitions are discussed during election campaigns. The chapter provides first a brief overview on the institutional setting in which parties in Germany act and which influences the government-formation process, as well as the daily business of coalition governance. In a second step, we outline recent dynamics in the structure of the German party system. The final section summarizes the findings, considers if an overall trend in terms of changes in coalition governance exists in Germany, and discusses the impact of the parliamentary presence of a left- and a right-wing ‘pariah’ party—The Left and the Alternative for Germany—for coalition politics in Germany in the future.