Why some Germans want to be ruled by 'Jamaica'

Why some Germans want to be ruled by 'Jamaica'

Many Australian voters would probably be attracted to the idea of the country's two main political parties working together in Government.

In an era of overly-polarised debate across the Western world, the idea the old centre-left and centre-right political institutions would govern in the national interest could even boost faith in politicians.

In Germany, the arrangement has worked relatively well for the past four years.

Under the "grand coalition" between the conservative CDU/CSU bloc and their traditional centre-left opponents — the SPD — the economy has grown, unemployment has remained low and budget surpluses have been at near-record levels.

But in politics most ideas have a use-by date.

It seems likely the history books will record September 24, 2017 as the day the German "grand coalition" was put on ice for a bit.

Combined, it suffered a whopping swing of about 14 per cent at the ballot box.

The junior partner, the SPD, has crashed to a particularly disastrous 20 per cent of the overall vote. Why?

As the ABC has travelled across Germany over the past fortnight, there has been one common complaint from voters right across the political spectrum — many think the major parties are too similar and agree on too much.

Voters who wanted Angela Merkel gone felt they had only two options at the fringes — the socialist left, which got about 9 per cent of the vote, or right wing anti-immigration, anti-Islam group Alternative for Germany, which surged to get about 13 per cent.

Neither party is likely to play a significant role in the next German parliament, but their existence highlights serious dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Return of right-wing nationalists

With the Social Democrats already seeming to reject the idea of another "grand coalition" in favour of a period in opposition, Ms Merkel's clearest path to power is now via the so-called "Jamaica" option.

Her CDU/CSU block is represented by the colour black, the Greens are green, and the Free Democrats yellow — together they make the colours of the Jamaican flag.

This alliance will be difficult — traditionally the two minor parties hate each other and compete for the same base, generally well-off inner-city voters.

But as the results came in, there were signs peace could be made, which is relatively unsurprising, the minor parties live to be kingmakers.

Many Germans would think a "Jamaica" coalition serves two clear roles.

Firstly, the addition of two smaller parties into Government may inject new life into policy debates.

Digitisation of the German economy was a major subject in the lead-up to the election campaign.

Secondly, the Coalition would ensure the Social Democrats become the largest opposition group, instead of the third-placed Alternative for Germany.

Due to its history, many in this nation are deeply troubled by the return of right-wing nationalists to the Bundestag.

Keeping them out of any position of prestige, even opposition, is on its own enough to get many Germans behind the "Jamaica" option.