Germany’s political churn is significant
In Germany, a closely contested election has seen the Social Democrats (SPD) pull marginally ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Both parties are in a race to form coalitions though, by most accounts, SPD’s Olaf Scholz is seen as having an edge through his efforts to forge an alliance with the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The race to choose Ms Merkel’s successor is happening at a time when, across Europe, states are looking to Germany and France to play a larger role in shaping the European Union (EU)’s response to a range of challenges, from the climate crisis to China’s growing assertiveness. Germany is also keen to see France patch up its differences with the United States (US) over AUKUS.
A clearer picture will emerge only by the end of the year, but as German ambassador to India, Walter Lindner puts it, any new government is expected to continue efforts to bolster relations with New Delhi, given its central role in the Indo-Pacific. Germany was among the first European countries to frame an Indo-Pacific strategy and has sent a frigate to the region. Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe, and bilateral trade was worth more than 21 billion euros in 2019. German foreign direct investment in 2000-2020 was $12 billion, and both sides have plans to ramp up cooperation in areas such as green technologies and global warming.
India and Germany can bolster each other’s efforts to influence outcomes in Afghanistan as they have the shared goals of ensuring human rights, formation of an inclusive government and preventing the use of Afghan soil for terrorism. But beyond this, the churn in Germany will have implications for the EU and the Western alliance.