Bundestag Election 2021: What can Berlin, Brussels and Budapest expect?
Event reportOn 29 September, 2021 the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT) organized a webinar about the outcomes and possible impacts of the German parliamentary elections titled “Bundestag Election 2021: What can Berlin, Brussels and Budapest expect?”. Dr András Hettey, a senior lecturer at the National University of Public Service, Edit Inotai, a senior fellow at the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy (CEID), and Tamás Levente Molnár, a research fellow at the IFAT participated in the event. The webinar was moderated by Nikolett Garai, a research fellow at IFAT. According to Tamás Levente Molnár, the most surprising development in connection with the election results was that although the campaign was mainly dominated by the so-called “future topics”, such as the climate and digitalisation, but the election was still won by the SPD, which emphasized stability and social security, mostly with the votes from the generation over 60. András Hettey highlighted that the combined results of the two former people’s parties – the Union Party and the SPD – did not reach 50 per cent of the votes. Mentioning the third aspect, Edit Inotai emphasized that the election was a tight race, as since January all three parties, the conservatives, the social democrats as well as the greens led the polls at some point. Analysing the election results, Inotai said that the winner SPD essentially embodies the continuity, the “weiter so,” while the two winner former opposition parties, the Greens and the FDP, essentially stay for renewal. Considering the composition of the new German government coalition, the experts unanimously agreed that the so-called traffic light coalition of the SPD, FDP and the Greens has the best chance. The conservative Union Parties would probably go into opposition due to the turbulent processes within the party on the one hand, and due to the weak position of Armin Laschet, the party chairman on the other. If the traffic light coalition would come to power in Germany, it would be a window of opportunity for many European reforms. All three parties are in favour of a more federal Europe. The most important reforms could be envisaged in financial policy, such as the joint borrowing of debt, and social policy, such as the common European minimum wage. With Scholz being the new chancellor, these issues can be given new momentum, but the liberal FDP’s rejection of any European debt communitization must also be taken into account. The latter would be particularly important if the FDP would get the ministry of finance. The final panel of the webinar was about the prospects of Hungarian-German relations. According to Edit Inotai, no radical change can be expected concerning the bilateral relations, although an SPD chancellor is likely to be more critical of the Hungarian government in the debate on rule of law than the current German leadership. However, no far-reaching practical consequences for the Hungarian government can be anticipated in this regard. Molnár emphasized the Hungarian government will have less ability to assert its interests against the new German government, based on the simple reason that there will be fewer personal contacts with the traffic light government – assuming it comes to power. Finally, Hettyey spoke about the divergence of the Hungarian and German societies, the growing misunderstanding of each other, and the increasing alienation of the political elites. All three speakers emphasized the importance of the Hungarian-German economic relations, which will be highly affected by the developments of electromobility processes and the future of the automotive industry in general.
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