Could Germany be heading for a snap election?

If the centre-left SDP does poorly enough in an upcoming federal election, it could trigger its exit from the national coalition. 

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Could Germany be heading for a snap election? That’s one possible consequence of the looming federal election in the state of Hesse on Sunday if the centre-left SDP does poorly enough to trigger its exit from the national coalition. 

Hesse’s ruling coalition between the centre-right CDU and the centre-left Greens looks set to lose its working majority: while the Greens have not suffered for their participation in the coalition, as the junior party often does, and are expected to poll around 21 per cent, the CDU is expected to lose ground on Sunday, putting further pressure on Angela Merkel.

The CDU’s nationwide coalition partner, the SDP, hasn’t been able to avoid the curse of the junior partner and its vote is peeling off to almost everyone, particularly the fellow centre-left Greens but also to the leftist Die Linke and the far-right AfD, which is expected to complete its collection by picking up representative in Hesse’s federal parliament, as it stands the only remaining federal legislature without an AfD presence. 

What could come next? One possibility is that Hesse could end up with the “Jamaica” coalition of the CDU (black), classical liberal FDP (yellow) and Green (no prizes for guessing which colour of the Jamaican flag this party uses on its branding). Another is that Germany could get its second red-red-green coalition of the SDP, Die Linke and the Greens. 

If elections in Hesse end up with a Jamaica coalition then that should ease some of the pressure on Angela Merkel. But if her party ends up in opposition thanks to a coalition of the parties of the left, her hopes of leaving at a time of her own choosing may once again be thrown into doubt. 

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.