Marc Debus, Jochen Müller
Government Formation After the 2009 Federal Election: The Remake of the Christian–Liberal Coalition Under New Patterns of Party Competition

German Politics, 2011: 20, issue 1, p. 164-185

The question 'who gets in?' is one of the central research areas in studies on coalition politics. This paper analyses government formation after the 2009 Bundestag elections in Germany. On the basis of the 'Political Heart' model, which is modified in a way so as to include the parties’ pre-electoral coalition statements, it is argued that the Christian Democrats maintained a pivotal position during the 2009 German coalition formation game. In a second step, the probabilities for all coalition options are estimated on the basis of the seat distribution in the 17th Bundestag and in a hypothetical parliament where the CDU/CSU and FDP do not have a majority. The results show that, firstly, a Christian–Liberal coalition was by far the most likely outcome of the actual government formation process. If, however, CDU/CSU and FDP had not achieved a parliamentary majority, then a remake of the 'grand coalition' between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats would be the most likely result of the coalition negotiations. Secondly, the data reveals that the so-called 'Jamaica coalition' between Christian Democrats, FDP and Greens and a coalition between SPD, Greens and the 'Linke' would be a realistic alternative to a 'grand coalition'.