German Chancellor Angela Merkel was re-elected to her fourth term Sunday, although the elections saw a shift among coalition partners in a decision with implications for African countries.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) party received the most overall votes but not enough to hold a majority in parliament, changing the dynamics of how party alliances will take shape moving forward. That’s likely to influence Germany’s policies on Africa, including the immigration strategies and investment initiatives championed by Merkel in Europe.
Merkel – whose nation currently holds the G20 presidency – was the driving force behind the July launch of the G20 Africa Partnership, with its investment priorities in rural employment and renewable energy. In Africa, the first seven countries are participating in “Investment Compacts” with G20 nations, with Merkel’s Germany partnering with Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Tunisia.
The chancellor also has spearheaded European efforts on immigration. She has visited African nations including Mali and Ethiopia in support of European Union mechanisms on counterterrorism and to deter illegal immigration, primarily among sub-Saharan Africans who often find themselves on harrowing journeys along Mediterranean routes into southern Europe. She advocates investment in Africa tied to better controls on migration, an EU strategy established along with the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa at the height of the 2015 crisis.
Merkel’s stance on African foreign investment and immigration, though, is part of what caused the strongest showing of far-right voters in Germany since the end of World War II. The new Alternative for Germany (AfD) party picked up 13 percent of the vote, and went from zero to 94 seats in parliament.
At the same time, both Merkel’s party and the Social Democratic Party, which support the Compact for Africa to varying degrees, saw significant losses when compared with previous election results in 2013.
Image: Presidency of South Africa file