Behind all the talk about the number of votes for Angela Merkel, the German Bundestag seems to be getting a left-green majority. In theory, this means that the social democrats, the greens and the Linke could form the government and leave Merkel in minority. In practice, of course, this does not seem a probable scenario. If the three parties cannot find room for collaboration, their majority will not be able to speak the majority voice. It will therefore be a silent majority.
The term “silent majority” has normally been used about citizens who are too passive to make their voice heard. In the new context of Germany, it can also be used about the parliamentary left-green majority that is unwilling or unable to assert itself.
Before yesterday’s election, the right-wing coalition behind Merkel had a clear majority in the Bundestag having won over 330 seats in the elections of 2009. The preliminary results are now showing that her coalition now represents a parliamentary minority with 311 seats. The three left-green parties seem to be getting an absolute majority of 319 seats. Yet, everyone of raving about the landslide victory of Merkel. The new left-green majority thus remains in double silence: it will not be able to speak and it is not spoken about.
Professor of World Politics, University of Helsinki