Will the German Election Outcome Change Berlin’s Turkey Policy?
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The deep bilateral crisis between Ankara and Berlin will not vanish after Germany’s parliamentary election. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will stay in campaign mode until 2019, when Turkey will have both presidential and parliamentary elections that will kick into effect the constitutional changes approved in a referendum in April. Hence, more anti-EU and particularly anti- German rhetoric can be expected. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), declared by Erdoğan as an “enemy of Turkey,” has again emerged as the largest parliamentary bloc. As she failed to gain an absolute majority, Merkel will have to form a coalition government in the coming weeks. After months of diplomatic spats, will Germany’s future Turkey policy be shaped by reset or resolve?
In short, the answer is neither/nor. The elections delivered sufficient support for the CDU to repeat the incumbent “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats (SPD), but that coalition lost more than ten percent in the vote and the SPD announced that it will not enter another CDU-led cabinet. Hence, the most viable alternative would be to form a so-called “Jamaica” coalition with the Liberals (FDP) and the Green Party.
Whatever the governing coalition, all the parties coming into the 19th Bundestag have called for a tougher stance toward Ankara. This also includes the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has steamrolled into parliament with more than 12 percent of the vote, on a mostly anti-immigration platform. And indeed, talking tough to Turkey found vast support among the public. Only three weeks before the election, 77 percent of Germans voiced support for unilateral sanctions, while the number of those who opposed Turkey’s membership in the EU has increased from 68 percent in April 2016 to 84 percent in September 2017.
The election campaign itself has revealed the German political elite’s deep frustration with the limits of the EU’s transformative power in the neighborhood and especially Turkey. Merkel’s anti-membership stance will no longer be challenged by a traditionally pro-accession SPD or the FDP, which seemed open to membership during the CDU-FDP coalition (2009-2013). Now, both are calling for immediately ending accession talks. The Greens, more moderately, oppose an end to talks but support their current standstill.
 Sinan Ekim, “Eyeing Elections, Erdoğan Doubles Down on Critics: Will the Strategy Backfire?” Istituto Affari Internazionali, September 16, 2017, http:// www.iai.it/it/pubblicazioni/eyeing-elections-erdogan-doubles-down-critic... strategy-backfire.
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 Florian Harms, ““Dann haben wir im Reichstag echte Nazis”” T-Online, September 11, 2017, http://www.t-online.de/nachrichten/deutschland/bundestagswahl/ id_82127344/sigmar-gabriel-im-interview-wir-muessen-endlich-umsteuern-.html. Freie Demokraten, “EU-Beitrittsverhandlungen mit der Türkei beenden,” in “Denken wir neu. Unser Programm zur Bundestagwahl, ” https://www.fdp.de/wp-modul/ btw17-wp-a-134.