I would like to begin this column by saying that Germany must have breathed a sigh of relief over the weekend. As we expected, the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria lost considerable votes in the Bavarian state election, but the CSU's possibility of establishing a coalition with the Free Voters party has ruled out the crisis on the horizon. Thanks to this possibility, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be able to focus on the EU summit to be held in Brussels on Oct. 17-18, and the issue of Brexit.
In the Bavarian state election on Oct. 14, the CSU had the second greatest defeat in its history, but it still turned out as the top party with 37.3 percent vote share. The true winners of the election have been the Greens, as the party received one of the highest vote shares in its history of state elections.
By receiving 17.5 percent, the Greens have become the main opposition party and the second largest group of the Bavarian state parliament. The second winner of the election has been the Alternative for Germany (AfD), something we are now used to seeing across Germany.
Enjoying a 10.2 percent vote share, the AfD will be a strong opposition party in the state parliament. The Free Voters, a regional party of Bavaria, received 11.6 percent of the vote and announced that they wanted to begin coalition negotiations with the CSU, whereas the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) barely entered the parliament with only 5.1 percent of the vote and the Left (die Linke) could not enter the parliament at all with only 3.5 percent votes.
In the Bavarian state parliament, some 101 ballots are needed for a majority. As the total number of seats of the CSU and the Free Voters is 112, it is should be no problem for a coalition government to be formed. However, the CSU is getting ready for harsh confrontations within the party after this defeat. This confrontation will also have some ramifications outside the party as it will probably involve the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its leader Merkel, the one responsible for the federal policies of the alliance.
Currently, the Hessian state election to be held on Oct. 21 has riveted the attention of Germany. Merkel will gain strength to some extent as long as the CDU-Greens coalition secures the majority in Hesse. Otherwise, Merkel's end will be expedited. The CSU's possibility of forming a coalition with a reasonable partner in Bavaria will help Merkel focus on Brexit, instead of domestic issues, this week.
The upcoming EU summit will also touch on the financial issues with the occasion of the Euro summit alongside issues of immigration policies, the EU's internal security and Brexit. Brexit will be the sole discussion topic tomorrow.
It is not possible to mention reconciliation on Brexit yet. Particularly the cost of Brexit and the efforts to formulate it at the lowest cost possible for the EU economy will persist. On the other hand, the Northern Ireland issue is still ongoing as a border dispute between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The realization of Britain's expectations seems quite difficult. The British are raising difficulties for a solution, since they want to benefit from all the advantages and customs facilities of the EU, while trying to take some measures against the EU.
In this trajectory, a customs union agreement between the EU and Britain will not be a surprise. Merkel favors the opinion of progressing with minor and cautious steps as always. She will be utterly glad if the EU summit achieves this. Although this tactic seems like a smart and successful one on a first glance, it will still lead to new problems for Germany in the long term. In December, Merkel will deal with both the EU summit and the CDU congress, where she will tackle CDU members who think it is high time for Merkel to leave her seat. Apparently, the EU might have to prepare for summits without Merkel's presence in the near future.
In a nutshell, the EU summit is not likely to make any major steps regarding the Brexit issue. Subjects like "refugees and immigration policies" and "internal security of the EU" have become the indispensable matters of every single summit. They will continue to be among the leading topics that are highly discussed, yet not resolved. The current situation does in fact constitute the main problem of EU summits and leaders. The EU can hardly take new steps with its existing rules and procedures. So, it is evident that there is an urgent need for EU reforms, which happens to be the leading issue mentioned but unsolved. Consequently, another EU summit that won't seem to bring many solutions is approaching. Let's hope for the best.
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