The party that made history in the 2017 German federal election is now set to head key Bundestag committees. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) are presented with an opportunity to be in charge of the budget, reviewing eurozone bailouts, and ironically enough the German conservative bloc can make that happen.
They are the first right-wing party to be represented in the Bundestag since World War II, having ranked third in last year’s parliamentary election, with 12.6 percent. Whether the AfD gets to lead the parliamentary budget, tourism and legal affairs committees, depends on the success of the renewal of the ‘grand coalition’ — the alliance between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU) bloc and the Social Democrats (SPD).
Interior view of the plenar hall of the German Federal Parliament, Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017.
If the coalition negotiations, expected to begin on January 26, result in favor of restoring the union, the AfD will become the largest opposition party in the parliament — and traditionally it is the strongest opposition party that gets to head the budget committee, which vets eurozone bailouts.
AfD board members celebrate with balloons during the election party of the nationalist ‘Alternative for Germany’, AfD, in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, after the polling stations for the German parliament elections had been closed.
The right-wing Bundestag newbie have expressed their delight on Facebook, while the AfD Parliamentary Secretary Bernd Baumann said the party is “very pleased to receive these important committees.”
AfD holds a Eurosceptic position and challenges German-backed bailouts of Europe’s struggling southern economies, such as Greece. Once they are in charge of the budget committee, the AfD cannot single-handedly veto aid. However, their perspective chair candidate, lawmaker Peter Boehringer, is unlikely to make pro-European budget decisions easy for the rest of the Parliament.
Merkel’s aim in the upcoming negotiations with the SPD is to secure her fourth term as chancellor. The Social Democrats, however, has been torn by an internal debate ever since the election that saw the party reduced to its worst result since 1949. Questions continue to arise within the SPD about it strategic direction and leadership.
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a statement before exploratory talks about forming a new coalition government at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Germany, January 7, 2018.
After the delegates’ vote on January 21 to back formal coalition talks with Merkel’s conservatives, a poll showed a dip in support for the SPD to 18 percent from 18.5 percent.
If Merkel gets what she wants from the upcoming coalition negotiations, it will secure her leadership position, boost AfD’s parliamentary authority and potentially leave the Social Democrats sour and unsatisfied.