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New article published in JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies

Leonce Röth on "After Merkel – The 2021 German Election and its Implications for European Union Politics"

Röth, L. (2022) After Merkel – The 2021 German Election and its Implications for European Union Politics. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 60: 48– 59.


In this article, I argue that the end of Angela Merkel and her replacement with a coalition including the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Green Party (Greens) and the Liberal Party (FDP) in 2021 substantially changes the German role within the European Union.

To make the case, I describe the positions of major German parties in the run-up to the 2021 election and describe the preferences towards the European Union of the emerging coalition. I relate those positions to a three-dimensional portrayal of European conflicts. The first is about supranational integration versus national sovereignty in the decision-making processes, the second is about fiscal transfers versus fiscal discipline, and the third is about a Common European Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

The results demonstrate that in the domain of the integration of decision-making processes as well as in the domain of CSDP, all major German parties see the necessity for deeper integration. In light of the new European momentum caused by Putin's invasion of Ukraine, a push for European integration would most likely also be supported by a hypothetical government participation of the CDU. The pro-integration consensus, however, does not extend to the fiscal dimension of Europe. On the one hand, the SPD and in particular the Greens signaled far-reaching support for significant steps towards a real transfer Union, including genuine European revenues and investments while lowering the priority for fiscal oversight and discipline. On the other hand, the FDP signaled the opposite and managed to place significant safeguards for fiscal discipline in the coalition contract. Nonetheless, without the CDU in government, the fiscal position of Germany within Europe has shifted from a strong commitment to fiscal discipline toward more ambiguous positions including a hesitant commitment to European taxes, investments and transfers. This re-orientation will weaken the coalition of the fiscal discipline camp within Europe and opens up new ways to complement the rising political authority of Europe with fiscal authority.