Cablegate: Westerwelle's Surge Clinches Black-Yellow In

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2019

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1. (C) Chancellor Merkel achieved her goal of a solid
parliamentary majority for her Christian Democratic Union
(CDU) with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social
Union (CSU), and the pro-business Free Democratic Party
(FDP), but will have to contend with a self-confident FDP
that is likely to seek major concessions in terms of policy
and personnel. Nonetheless, the CDU/CSU's 33.8 percent
showing was its lowest since 1949, while the FDP's 14.6
percent was its strongest in the history of the Federal
Republic. The SPD crashed, while the Left Party and Greens
were able to score their highest results ever, with the Left
Party surpassing the Greens overall and overtaking the SPD in
the eastern German states by a wide margin. Merkel hopes
that coalition negotiations with the FDP will be "quick and
decisive," while FDP Chairman Guido Westerwelle -- widely
expected to be the next foreign minister -- has emphasized
his intention to press for the party's goals of a fundamental
tax reform, more emphasis on education, and stronger
protection of civil liberties. Merkel and Westerwelle
already met privately election night (September 27) and
coalition negotiations should begin soon, most likely with
the goal of having a formal agreement with the selection of a
cabinet by the time the Bundestag convenes a month from now.
End Summary.


2. (U) The results show the decline of the major parties --
particularly the SPD -- and the strengthening of a five-party
system. Preliminary results give CDU/CSU 33.8 percent
(versus 35.2 percent in 2005); the FDP 14.6 percent (9.8);
the SPD 23.0 (34.3); the Left Party 11.9 (8.7), and the
Greens 10.7 (8.1). The decline in the CDU/CSU percentage is
due particularly to the CSU's losses in Bavaria, where the
party suffered its worst Bundestag result ever at 42.6
percent, down from 49.2 percent in 2005, but it still won all
45 of its constituencies. These preliminary results give the
CDU 24 "surplus mandates" because of the high number of
constituency seats it won despite its low 33.8 percent second
vote showing (see REFTEL G).

3. (U) The new coalition should end up with control of both
the Bundestag and the Bundesrat (Upper Council). Based on
the preliminary official results, the CDU/CSU will have 239
seats in the Bundestag (up from 226), which along with the 93
FDP Bundestag seats (previously 61) would give the new
government a solid majority. The SPD will have 146 seats in
the Bundestag (down from 222), the Left Party 76 (versus 54)
and the Greens 68 (versus 51). The Schleswig Holstein
election on September 27 also appears to have given the CDU
and FDP a parliamentary majority in that state. With CDU-FDP
governments there and in Saxony, where the two parties won a
majority on August 30, the new CDU/CSU-FDP coalition will
soon have a majority in the Bundesrat and should be able to
gain its approval of future coalition legislation.

4. (C) Chancellor Merkel and her CDU/CSU Union are somewhat
disappointed by their party's results, but are publicly
emphasizing that the CDU/CSU-SPD Grand Coalition has met its
demise and will be replaced by a center-right coalition
composed of the CDU/CSU and FDP. "We achieved something
fantastic," said Chancellor Merkel, now facing a second
four-year term. "We achieved a stable majority in Germany
for a new government...We can party tonight, but there is a
lot of work waiting for us." An uncharacteristically
emotional Merkel -- clearly relieved by her victory --
promised to be the "Chancellor of all Germans" -- old and
young, entrepreneurs and workers -- and said the CDU/CSU
would be sufficiently dominant in the new coalition to
prevail "in questions that affect social balance."

5. (C) Despite her huge personal popularity, however, Merkel
led her CDU/CSU Union to its second poorest result in
history, leaving her vulnerable to future backstabbing within

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her party. Merkel -- while happy to be rid of the Grand
Coalition with the SPD -- now faces the challenging task of
entering a coalition with a party that could prove to be more
difficult to manage than the SPD. Merkel will start talks
with the FDP within days. It could, however, take up to the
end of October for the parties to forge the policy
compromises and work out the distribution of cabinet posts
necessary to seal a coalition deal.


6. (C) The FDP will return to government after eleven years
in opposition, having achieved its best election results in
the party's history. Its leader, FDP Party Chairman Guido
Westerwelle, will most likely become Germany's next foreign
minister (see REFTEL E). At the FDP election celebration,
Westerwelle told his party faithful that "We want to be part
of the government. But this means responsibility, and we are
ready to take on this responsibility." Westerwelle said his
party would work to ensure that Germany gets a "fair tax
system and better educational opportunities" and that civil
rights would once again be respected. The FDP will be in a
very powerful position to demand a larger number of cabinet
seats in a new German government. They are likely to expect
to get at least the equivalent of what they have had in the
past: the foreign office, either justice or perhaps interior
(which they led from 1969-82), economics or possibly finance,
and at least one other ministry (in the past they have had
education and economic cooperation (i.e. development).
However, the FDP will find it difficult to negotiate a
coalition agreement with the CDU/CSU over the coming weeks,
especially in the areas of tax cuts (see REFTEL F) and civil
rights, including data privacy (see REFTEL D).


7. (C) It would be hard to exaggerate the dimension of the
SPD defeat. The party fell more than 11 points to its worst
result in the post-war period. Its share of the eastern
German vote was 19 percent, behind both the CDU and Left
Party, and the FDP came within striking distance of the SPD
in some western German states, including Bavaria, where the
SPD's 17 percent was just ahead of the FDP's 15 percent. The
SPD election-night party was like a funeral, and Steinmeier
and SPD party chairman Muentefering appeared grim-faced to
announce that Steinmeier would be the Bundestag caucus
chairman and thus unofficial leader of the opposition to the
new black-yellow government. Muentefering did not, as many
expected, announce his resignation but it is likely to come
by the time of the next party conference in mid-November.

8. (C) Exit polls show that the SPD lost more than a million
votes to former supporters who simply stayed home and
additional voters to the Left Party and Greens, and that the
public still blames it for the changes in unemployment
insurance and the retirement age enacted during the Schroeder
government and as part of the grand coalition. The SPD, with
only four minister-presidents and a shrunken parliamentary
caucus, will have to decide how to profile itself against its
two fellow leftist opposition parties, and the party left is
likely to press for coalitions with the Left and Greens at
the state level.


9. (C) The Left Party -- under Oskar Lafontaine's and Gregor
Gysi's leadership -- can also claim electoral victory with
their party's best showing ever in a parliamentary election.
Having won 11.9 per cent of the total vote and 20 direct
mandates -- the largest number ever for one of the smaller
parties -- it will be difficult for Germany's other parties,
especially the SPD, to ignore The Left's steady rise in
popularity in east and west Germany (see REFTEL B). The
party successfully stole the SPD's thunder and was partially
responsible for the SPD's poorest showing ever in German
election history. The Left Party can now concentrate on
achieving the ultimate prize in German politics in 2013: a
governing coalition with the SPD and the Greens. Berlin SPD
Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit has already said that this
year's election must be the last one in which the SPD
excludes the possibility of cooperation with the Left, and he
and other left-wingers in the SPD will likely fight to bring
the two parties closer together.


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10. (C) The Greens may have celebrated their first double
digit showing (10.7 per cent) in a parliamentary election,
but the party was unsuccessful in preventing a black-yellow
coalition or becoming the third strongest party in the
Bundestag (see REFTEL A). Party Co-Chairman Cem Oezdemir --
who failed to win his direct mandate and was too low on the
party list to win a seat in the Bundestag -- said that the
Greens would establish themselves as a "think tank for social
issues and for Germany as a whole." The SPD's disastrous
electoral result will remind the Greens that they may need to
reach out to the CDU if they are to remain a relevant
political power. For the foreseeable future, Oezdemir hinted
that his party would concentrate on achieving good results at
future state elections and plotting their return to power in


11. (C) Chancellor Merkel's main campaign objective -- to
attract centrist support by out-positioning the SPD as the
best protector of Germany's social welfare state -- was
successful, although her CDU/CSU union suffered losses,
primarily because of the CSU. She will now have to find a
way to balance this promise with FDP demands for greater
reforms while dealing with the likely struggles between a
strengthened FDP and a CSU that is concerned about its
continued decline. The parties will now enter complex
coalition negotiations with pressure to complete them by the
time that the new Bundestag convenes in late October, these
talks have the potential to be very contentious. Merkel will
want to stamp her authority on the coalition agreement, while
Westerwelle will be a tough bargaining partner for Merkel as
he aims to extract the maximum amount of policy and personnel
concessions from the CDU/CSU. Finally, as a weakened SPD
moves into the opposition, it can be expected that it will
seek to continue the public debate on the major campaign
issues and begin to rebuild itself, a process that could
include its strong re-positioning to the left.

12. (C) What does a CDU/CSU-FDP victory mean for the United
States? On a practical level, Germany will have a new
foreign minister, most likely Guido Westerwelle, who has
enjoyed a difficult relationship with the United States
during his time spent in opposition (see REFTEL D).
Westerwelle will face a steep learning curve at the MFA, but
we should not expect him to play second fiddle to Chancellor
Merkel. The foreign and security policy rivalry between the
MFA and Chancellery during the Bush Administration will not
disappear. Indeed, they may be enhanced with Westerwelle's
attempt to profile and make an international name for himself
as quickly as possible, making it difficult for us to
identify who is in the lead on any given issue. Chancellor
Merkel and Westerwelle will be competing for attention; the
latter's flamboyant and outgoing style may give him a leg up
but Chancellor Merkel will be keen to assert her primacy in
international affairs, especially on economic and EU matters.
She has more government and foreign policy experience that
will come in handy in this future duel, and in an age of
international summitry, the Chancellor rather than the
Foreign Minister calls the shots. We should not
underestimate her desire to carve out a political legacy for
herself, especially in the international arena, and her
record of strong cooperation with Washington suggests that
her dominance is likely to have a net benefit for US

13. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulates General
Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Munich.

© Scoop Media

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