The Week Ahead: 17-23 June 2018

The Week Ahead: 17-23 June 2018
This week: Germany CSU vote on migration policy. Turkey elections.

GERMANY: Vote of confidence could destabilize Merkel’s position

This Monday, Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partner, the CSU, will vote on whether to disapprove of the chancellor and CDU/CSU’s migration policy, which has roiled German politics and arguably led to the rise of the far-right AfD party. Several factors are at play though which suggest that while it is possible that Merkel will lose this vote and subsequently lead to her resignation, what is most likely is a weakening of her position. The CSU, in addition to disagreeing on policy grounds with the migration policy (and its key source of electoral strength, Bavaria, the recipient of many migrants), is concerned that by being tied to this unpopular migration policy, will continue hemorrhaging support to the AfD. On the other hand, the collapse of the CDU/CSU government could open up an opportunity for further gains for the AfD (particularly given that the Social Democrats are also unpopular), which in the longer term could weaken the CSU’s strategic electoral position. In addition, by devoting further and further attention to migration rather than other issues (education, tax policy, foreign affairs, etc.), the CSU runs the risk of being defined by migration policy, heightening the costs if the CSU is unable to secure a workable plan. Finally, Angela Merkel has long shown herself to be a political survivor, and attempting to dislodge her from the chancellorship without a clear plan for after that is a recipe for electoral disaster. With all these factors in consideration, it does not appear at this point that the CSU is prepared to confront the consequences of going too far against Merkel.  The likeliest scenario is Merkel will move the position of the CDU/CSU closer to the CSU side without causing major policy disruption.

TURKEY: Elections for president and parliament could lead to a surprise or two

This Sunday, Turkish voters will vote in both the parliamentary as well as presidential elections. After last year’s referendum, which, while narrowly passing, gave expansive powers to the president and removed the position of prime minister, both the parliamentary and presidential votes will be significant. While President Erdogan is likely to be the highest vote-getter in the elections, some analysts believe he may not be able to secure 50% support and may have to run in a runoff election. Should this happen, opposition may coalesce around whomever wins 2ndplace (likely either Muharrem Ince of the CHP or Meral Aksener of the IYI Party), though that is uncertain and it still may not be sufficient for Erdogan to win. By calling the elections over 18 months early, Erdogan has signaled a relative confidence in this time frame to secure a future term. On the parliamentary side, new rules in voting and the allocation of seats may boost support for opposition parties. In addition to lowering the voting age from 25 to 18 (which could boost left-wing and youth-oriented political parties), new rules ensure that as long as a coalition of political parties secures 10% of the vote, it will be accorded seats in parliament (previously it was each political party, making it very difficult for smaller political parties to gain power). It appears that the opposition is very energized to vote, and many Turkish voters have grown weary of the ongoing state of emergency triggered from last year’s attempted coup. These pressures, as well as the organization of opposition groups into hopefully cohesive coalitions, may be sufficient to reduce Erdogan’s AKP’s majority, or possible eliminate it or necessitate a coalition government.

Stay ahead of the news cycle with GRI. Drawing on expert knowledge and local sources, The Week Ahead provides analytical foresight on the consequences of key upcoming political developments.

This edition of The Week Ahead was produced by GRI Senior Analyst Brian Daigle and Senior Editor Luke Iott.

About Author