German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left executive is facing a resounding defeat in key local elections, spelling trouble for crucial reforms at both the national and European Union levels. The conservative opposition party CDU has emerged as the victor, while the far-right party AfD has made a strong showing in the elections.
Scholz’s coalition, which includes the Social Democrats, Greens, and liberals, was already weakened by internal conflicts. Now, with their defeat in the local elections, the coalition is further hindered in pushing forward with their reform agenda.
Disagreements within the coalition over the pace and cost of the green transition have already resulted in the watering down of a planned boiler ban. This disagreement has played into the hands of the AfD, whose rise has been attributed to their opposition to costly climate transition measures.
The local elections’ outcome could have far-reaching implications, not just for Germany but also for the European Union. If Scholz slows down Germany’s efforts towards achieving net zero in response to the results, it could impact EU-level decisions and hinder ongoing discussions for pan-European energy price reform and rewriting the bloc’s fiscal rules.
A preoccupied German government may also struggle to rally other member states around compromise proposals in the EU, risking a slowdown in decision-making at a time when it needs to accelerate. This could lead to delays in achieving crucial reforms and addressing urgent issues such as the climate crisis.
The defeat in the local elections highlights the need for the coalition to address their internal conflicts and regain momentum in pursuing their reform agenda. Without a united front, the coalition risks falling further behind in implementing crucial policies and risks derailing Germany’s and the EU’s efforts towards a sustainable future.