Battle for the Bundestag: German Election of 2009

Building a Smarter German-American Partnership

On September 27, 2009 the German voters decided in favor of a change in the German government. After four years of a grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and SPD, the conservatives will now form a center-right governing coalition with the FDP. The election brought not only a change in the governing coalition but has also signaled a change in the political system of Germany: the Volksparteien (the so-called catch all parties) CDU and SPD, dominant for many decades, can no longer count on their loyal voters to provide conclusive majorities. With ever-increasing votes for the smaller parties (really the biggest winners of this election), the political system is now firmly a six-party system, aided by the volatile loyalties of voters. While many analysts considered the election campaign to be one with little substance and sometimes downright boring, the economic, social, and foreign policy issues that gained little traction during the election will still continue to reverberate in Germany in the next four years and beyond—and will have European and transatlantic implications.

In a series of online tools, publications, and conferences, AGI followed the 2009 German federal election and provided analysis for American and German audiences. Essays in the Transatlantic Perspectives series touched on the foreign and domestic policy issues that emerged in the campaign and that will confront the new governing coalition. A series on the German political parties gave an overview of the origin of each party, its main political objectives in the election and beyond, its challenges, and its future leaders. Bloggers from Germany and the United States provided short commentaries on the election campaign and its style, the main economic and foreign policy issues, and the view on the election from the U.S.; the texts were supplemented by a photo blog to include the visual components of the campaign.

This publication features the highlights of AGI’s analysis; a compilation of insights into Germany’s foreign, domestic, and economic policies before, during, and after the election. We hope that this volume will become a handbook on the campaign and on issues that Germany and the transatlantic partnership will face in the next four years—and beyond.

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