The German elections from last Sunday have been described as a watershed moment for post-WW II Germany – the first time a rightwing populist party (AfD) enters parliament, and right away as third-largest party. For those Germans – like me
– who still view and judge German politics under the historic legacy and burden of the Third Reich this is indeed shocking and worrisome. On the other hand, many observers have described the elections as the moment when Germany became a normal country,
normal like most other European countries with a right-wing populist party. The question is whether this is simply a new status quo or the entry door to something far worse, as in 1930 (when the NSDAP had its electoral breakthrough moment). The new constellation
has also complicated the formation of a new government coalition enormously. Having lived more than five years in The Hague, I had a deja-vu moment on Sunday evening – Germany finally turns Dutch - a multi-party parliament where you need more than
two parties to form a government. And that is where there is a positive aspect. For the first time on federal level, a government might include two smaller parties (Liberals and Greens) from two opposing camps and who normally would not govern together.
That finally moves German politics away from the rigid political camp approach where smaller parties are bound to a larger partner (Liberals to Christian Democrats and Green Party to Social Democrats). While already overcome on the state-level, such
a “transactional” rather than ideologically coherent federal government can be seen as progress.