Danyal Bayaz has experienced many things during his first few weeks as a new MP, but boredom is not one of them. Two months after entering Germany’s parliament as a Green party candidate, Bayaz, 34, from Heidelberg, has watched rightwing politicians give each other standing ovations for Eurosceptic diatribes, leftwingers heckle the far right as racists and a former climate activist with dyed hair form unlikely alliances with Christian Democrats in tailored suits. Last week Bayaz saw the dramatic collapse of coalition talks that would have seen his Green colleagues catapulted into government and now faces the possibility that his seat may come up for grabs again in fresh elections next spring. “Right now I am not even sure if it’s worth me getting a loyalty card here,” he quips as he orders a cappuccino in the Bundestag’s canteen. For years, German politics were both mocked and admired for being too uneventful to the point of tedium. Only recently the lack of drama inside the reconstructed Reichstag’s circular plenary chamber led to calls for a more confrontational, Westminster-style approach. But as old geopolitical certainties have crumbled over the past 18 months, Berlin’s consensual, unexcitable style of policymaking has won new admirers.
The collapse of talks to form the next coalition government have exposed Angela Merkel’s diminished authority. Many are now beginning to wonder if the division wrought on Britain and the US by Brexit and Donald Trump has also descended on Europe’s biggest economy.
With Merkel’s last coalition partners, the Social Democratic party (SPD) and the Free Democrats (FDP), more eager on parliamentary opposition than on government posts, and an already ultra-oppositional Alternative für Deutschland hoping to receive a further boost from the political standstill, commentators in Germany have started to evoke the darkest days of the Weimar Republic, when short-lived minority governments ruled by emergency decrees.