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Weeklies’ last comments before the German elections

September 27th, 2021

The weeklies ponder what kind of government will take shape after Chancellor Merkel, a key actor in German politics and international relations, leaves the scene after 16 years in office. They also try to weigh the potential consequences for German-Hungarian relations.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Béla Weyer believes it will take the Germans several months to form a new government coalition. He is certain that unless the Social Democrats and the Christian parties return to their grand coalition, which both have firmly excluded, at least three parties will be needed to form a working coalition. Christian Democrats would need to forge an alliance, not only with their preferred partner, the Free Democrats, but also with the Greens, in order to reach a majority in parliament. The politics of these two parties, however, seem almost irreconcilable. The Social Democrat’s natural allies would be the Greens, but together they do not command a majority in the Bundestag. To do so, they would need to strike a deal with either the Free Democrats, or the post-communist Left party (Die Linke). The former would find it difficult to win acceptance from the Greens, while the latter would raise problems in international politics because of its anti-NATO stance, Weyer explains.

In 168 óra, Richárd Szentpéteri Nagy doesn’t expect abrupt changes in Germany’s internal politics or international role, whoever ends up forming the new governing coalition. Since the Second World War, he writes, because of its well-known historical heritage, Germany has always been governed from the centre, by Social Democrats or Christian Democrats or the two combined. Whatever the outcome of the post-electoral bargaining, he believes Germany will certainly follow restrained and professional policies in international relations. The lesson he draws from all this for Hungarian political forces is that they should not count on any sharp turn in the German political approach. Germany, he predicts, will not be interested in exacerbating conflicts as long as the Hungarian government of the day quietly caters to the interests of the German economy. That status quo can only change, he suggests, if the interests of the German automobile industry take a sharp and now unforeseeable turn and/or the position of the Hungarian government ‘further radicalises’.

In Mandiner, Gergely Szilvay ponders the possible scenarios in the wake of the German elections for Hungarian-German relations. According to one potential scenario, he explains, peace will continue to prevail in bilateral relations, based on pragmatic cooperation with occasional verbal clashes. In an alternative scenario, he speculates, the two countries could turn against each other in open political conflict. The latter scenario might develop if the Social Democrats form a government with the Greens and the Left party. Szilvay depicts an international context evolving in a distinctly unfavourable direction for the current Hungarian government. President Trump lost the election last year after having guaranteed a ‘safe haven’ for Hungary, amidst diplomatic storms, while another important ally, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is now in opposition. As a result, Szilvay predicts a veritable leftist ‘storm diplomacy’ against the Hungarian government. He is also worried about German-Hungarian relations because, as he sees it, most of the German public simply hates and despises Hungary, for the simple reason that it is systematically misinformed by its media. That is all the more worrying, he adds, since Hungary depends to a large extent on Germany for its economy. For exactly this reason, he suggests, Hungary has been broadening its economic relations with Russia, China, and the Turkic nations of Central Asia. Szilvay believes Hungary should stand firm and face increasing conflicts, rather than surrendering. All in all, he predicts that ‘the rattle of weapons’ will grow louder in the future.

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