The outcome of September 2013 German federal elections was widely anticipated in Europe and even other parts of the world. With Germany having adopted the position of ‘reluctant hegemon’ in the EU since the onset of the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, the attention in capitals across Europe has remained focused on who will govern Germany. In contrast, domestically the rather lukewarm election campaign instilled little enthusiasm amongst the German public. It took place against the background of the widespread expectations amongst Germans that their country would be governed by a CDU/CSU-SPD grand coalition after the election. European issues played only a marginal role in a campaign which was dominated by an almost presidential focus on Angela Merkel’s leadership skills and governance style.
The outcome of the election is predominantly the result of Merkel’s continuing high personal popularity ratings. At the same time it reflects the desire of the German electorate to revive the 2005-2009 grand coalition under her leadership. While this is the most likely result, there are a variety of reasons which could lead to alternative options. These are the formation of an unprecedented coalition between the CDU/CSU and the Green Party, the less likely possibilities of the formation of a leftist alliance between the SPD, Green Party and the Left Party, or even a CDU/CSU minority government. This discussion will analyse which perspectives the election result offers for the formation of a new government in Germany and what these may mean for the country’s position in the EU over the coming yea