German Elections - More Of The Same?
In a busy year for elections, Germans head to the polls on Sunday
5 min read
Angela Merkel is the strong favourite to secure her fourth term as Chancellor as leader of the largest party. Yet political risk about the eventual outcome of the election does remain, given the fragmented nature of the party political system.
Political risk remains
Europe’s busy calendar for elections in 2017 was a major source of uncertainty for investors at the beginning of the year. Fears about the implications of a rise in populism prevailed. European stock markets and the Euro have performed strongly, however, since the stunning victory of Emmanuel Macron in France’s Presidential election in May. Macron won by coming through the middle as a new force, with a pro EU and reformist agenda, at the expense of the traditional parties of the centre Left and Right. The German election provides another gauge of sentiment towards the established parties, the centre right CDU/CSU and social democratic SPD, now headed by Martin Schulz, former President of the European Parliament.
The closeness of the relationship between politicians and the car industry has also come under scrutiny in the wake of ‘
Six parties are polling 8% or more ahead of Sunday according to the latest Financial Times opinion poll tracker.
Populism and protest may still play its part. The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party’s poll rating has retreated from its peak last year when it reached 15%.
Political uncertainty may ease once the election is over. Negotiators in the Brexit process believe that it will be easier to make
Become a Client
Great relationships begin with an introduction. We would be delighted to welcome you to AdamDiscover more
For investors, the focus remains on the strength of the European economy and the outlook for corporate earnings. Business and consumer
Aided by the labour market reforms of Chancellor Schroder and by entering the Euro at a competitive exchange rate, Germany’s manufacturing sector underpins its exports with vehicles, machinery equipment and electrical products leading the way. The importance of the car industry is well known. It employs over 800,000 people directly and 500,000 indirectly, and represents around 17% of Germany’s exports. But Germany’s manufacturing strength does not just lie with its global leaders.
The recovery means that Germany is now running a budget surplus. This stood at €18.3bn in the first half of this year, the second highest ever, due to rising tax receipts. The favourable fiscal position may allow any new government to address social and regional inequalities, particularly in the former GDR, that have been raised during this election campaign. An ageing population is another
Germany is also operating a current account surplus of over 8% of GDP, reflecting that it has the highest trade surplus of any country with the rest of the world (over $300bn at the end of 2016). This has certainly attracted President Trump’s protectionist instincts. Given the divergent performances within Eurozone economies since the financial crisis, there is a belief that the German economy should focus less on savings and exports and more on domestic consumption and investment, particularly on the country’s infrastructure. This would assist addressing the global imbalances.
Investor concerns and opportunities
Once the votes have been counted, the new government will have a full political agenda both domestically and internationally.
With inflationary pressures still subdued in the Eurozone, the ECB looks set to remain cautious in reining in its bond purchasing programme.
As the last year has shown, predicting election results and the reaction of markets to them is difficult. For our clients, we will continue to invest in Europe for the long term with fund managers who can identify outstanding companies that can benefit from an improving European and global economy, however uncertain and fluid the political background. We also select direct European equities in areas as diverse as chemicals companies and tyre manufacturers, where we see good growth opportunities and sustainability of margins.
The polls suggest a strong outcome for Angela Merkel. What challenges and opportunities will she face in her fourth term – and how does an economically and politically robust Germany fit into Europe and the world?
About Adam investments
We offer discretionary investment management to individuals and their families, and to charities. We take a long term approach to investing and we believe this gives us an advantage in a world where markets and media are increasingly focused on short term news.View more from investments