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Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel moves left as German politics realign

Earlier this year, with the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) coming off a string of regional election triumphs, most observers expected Angela Merkel to become more conservative. Some within her own parliamentary bloc indeed demanded she do just that. But the opposite has happened. If anything, the chancellor and the CDU-CSU have maneuvered further left.

Part of the reason is the dictates of electoral numbers. The results of the September 24 national election meant that, with the extremes of the AfD and the Left party being deemed off-limits, Merkel's only viable coalitions involve either the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) or the left-wing environmentalist Greens. There is no non-left path to power.

But changes to political culture and Merkel's own personal inclinations have also encouraged realignment and effectively shifted the center further to the left. It was part of the accepted wisdom in Germany in the last 30 years that the conservatives' natural allies were the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), which has leaned towards the conservatives as coalition partner since the early 1980s, but had been in a coalition with the SPD before that.

Read more: Chancellor Angela Merkel moves left as German politics realign | In Depth | DW | 24.11.2017

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