- Leandro Prazeres
- From BBC News Brasil in Brasilia
The preliminary results of the German elections indicate a narrow victory for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) over the conservative alliance led by Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The formation of the new government may still take a few months, but the main scenario would involve a coalition between the SPD (the most voted), the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). But how can this election, which takes place over 9,000 kilometers away, affect life here in Brazil?
Specialists in relations between the country and Germany believe that this political composition should further increase the diplomatic distance between the two countries and impose more pressure on Brazil on issues such as trade and the environmental agenda.
Germany is one of Brazil’s main trading partners. According to the Ministry of Economy, the country was the seventh largest buyer of Brazilian products in 2020, with imports of US$ 4.1 billion. In the same period, Germany was the third largest exporter to Brazil: R$9.3 billion.
In addition to being an important trade partner, Germany has a strong tradition of investing in international cooperation with Brazil. The country is the second largest donor to the Amazon Fund (R$ 192 million), only behind Norway (R$ 3.1 billion).
Germany has been governed by the coalition led by Angela Merkel for 16 years. In these elections, she decided not to run, making room for one of the most disputed elections in the country.
The results show that the SPD, the center-left party, went from 153 to 206 seats in the German Parliament. The Green Party grew from 67 to 118. In the opposite direction, the coalition led by Merkel went from 246 seats to 196.
To have the right to nominate the country’s new chancellor, parties must form a coalition encompassing a majority of the votes in Parliament. On Monday, SPD leader Olaf Scholz announced that he is expected to form an alliance with greens and liberals.
The Brazilian Aline Burni holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and has worked in a think tank in Germany since 2019. She believes that the trend is that a coalition led by the SPD and composed of a “charged” Green Party should maintain or even increase diplomatic distance of the country with Brazil. According to her, this distance involves ideological differences between the SPD (center-left) and the right-wing government of Jair Bolsonaro, as well as the environmental issue.
“There is a significant programmatic difference between the SPD and the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, which is a right-wing government. The SPD has a very strong social agenda that defends the inclusion of social and cultural minorities. In this sense, there is not much identification. between the SPD and the current Brazilian government,” he says.
Aline also says that another element that could increase Brazil’s isolation from the new German government is the fact that Bolsonaro received the deputy leader of the AfD, Beatrice von Storch, at the Palácio do Planalto. The AfD is a far-right party known for its ultra-conservative positions and anti-immigration agenda. The party had a lower vote than recorded in past elections and should not be part of the coalition that will govern the country.
“The fact that Bolsonaro has shown closeness to the AfD, a party with which the parties have already ruled out any possibility of coalition, further increases this isolation,” he said.
Market and environment
Another point on which the new German government should pose a challenge to Brazilian diplomacy is the economic and environmental issue. Brazil is waiting for the European Union to ratify the trade agreement between the bloc and Mercosur. Approved in 2019, it needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all countries in the bloc to enter into force.
The process, which is not simple, has been paralyzed for almost two years due to criticism made by governments like the French in relation to Brazilian environmental policy. The German Green Party, for example, defends that the agreement can only enter into force if countries like Brazil change their environmental policies, especially on points such as the increase in deforestation in the Amazon.
The Europeans demand measures to guarantee that the products exported to the bloc will not be produced against environmental norms and contributing to the global climate crisis.
For the program director of the Cipó Platform, Maiara Folly, the chances of the agreement having the support of a German government made up of a strengthened Green Party are minimal.
“The agreement is already ‘frozen’ due to Brazilian environmental policy and would not have the slightest chance of being approved by the European Parliament with a green government in Germany. At least until there is an election in Brazil or a very relevant change in policy posture I don’t see the German government supporting this agreement. The chances are slim,” he says.
The retired professor at the Institute of International Relations at UnB Argemiro Procópio Filho, who lived and studied in Germany, agrees with Maiara. In his opinion, the likely new composition of the German government should further increase the pressure on Brazil.
“Germany is Europe’s engine. The bloc goes wherever it goes. If Germany doesn’t support the deal, the bloc won’t. And if that keeps happening, especially now that the Greens have significant power, the pressure to that Brazil changes its environmental policies grows,” he said.
Maiara and Aline point out, however, that the new German government should not seek a visible break with Brazil. This happens both because of the country’s diplomatic tradition, the fact that Brazil is a considered strategic partner and because of the Brazilian elections of 2022.
“I don’t believe in a rupture in the medium term. In 2022, there are elections in Brazil and there may be a change in the country’s command. I believe that the Germans will wait for the outcome of the dispute to see what line to adopt in relation to Brazil,” says Maiara.
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