Germany And Latin America: A New Relationship In A New Government?

After almost 2 decades in power, Angela Merkel leaves the German Chancellery. Are we facing a new stage of relations between Germany and Latin America?.

Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, her possible successor at the head of the Government in Berlin. Photo: Bernd Von Jutrczenka / dpa

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Alemania y Latinoamérica: ¿Una nueva relación en un nuevo Gobierno?

The end of Angela Merkel's era as German Chancellor seems more and more imminent. The formation of a government by the SPD is the most likely and would return power to the Social Democrats after being in the opposition or in government with Merkel. The German Social Democratic Party (SPD), despite being the counterweight to the conservatives, has also participated in their coalition. This does not make it clear if there will be continuity or a change in the relations of a new chancellor.

Merkel left more than 14 years of great achievements and battles. However, there was also little interest in Latin America. Something typical of Germany, who have found in other regions, greater commercial interest and cooperation. Historically, Germany has always had global interests far removed from Latin America. In the Merkel era, the Middle East, East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. The refugee crisis and the diplomatic and military conflicts with Russia and China took all the spotlight.

However, it will not be beneficial for Germany, the EU, and the United States to see an increasing influence of China in Latin America, since the region has always been an important ally by sharing similar values and visions with the West.

So far, the leader of the Social Democrats has promised continuity, both in strengthening the European Union, as well as in commitment to NATO and the United States itself to remain present in joint tasks. However, some changes may occur in the hands of the potential new chancellor, and among these, the region may appear.

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A government led by the SPD may have a different approach with the region. Scholz, who comes from a much more moderate socialist movement, could find important allies in several countries. Mainly, Mexico and Argentina, with whom he will also share G20 summits.

The challenges of the new German government in Latin America

Whether under the leadership of Olaf Scholz or Armin Laschet, the German government has several challenges in the region. The subcontinent has been far from Germany and the new chancellor will have a chance in Latin America to improve and strengthen relations between both parties.

The European Union has served as a guarantor and a principal stakeholder in stabilizing the political crisis in Venezuela. Despite not playing a leading role, the support and work of Germany within the EU will be important to continue fostering a real democracy. Merkel never had great interests, Scholz will have a crossroads, between supporting a dictatorial government or winking at a socialist government that may have greater approval within its voters or those of the Green party.

However, the counterweight that the FPD, the libertarian party, can achieve will be important in Scholz's continuity. The leader of the Social Democrats will only reach the Chancellery with the support of the Greens (environmentalist left) and libertarians. It will also be vital to see what quotas the parties achieve and with which ministries they end up controlling.

Also on the table is the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement with Mercosur. Both parties approved a text in 2019, but it has not yet been able to enter into force and the rulers are different. Now the role of Scholz will be vital to the success or failure of the agreement and possible modifications. This would be the most important trade agreement for both the EU and Mercosur.

Here there may also be a clash with the Bolsonaro Government. Obviously, with a Green party within the coalition, the possibility of a trade agreement that ignores the increase in deforestation in the Amazon will be difficult. And despite the fact that Scholz does not have direct decision-making power with what was agreed in the European Parliament, he can be a facilitator or an obstacle.

Today Latin America finds in China the commercial partner par excellence. Gone are the times of being the backyard of the United States, and today the Asian giant is the main destination and origin of products in most countries in the region. Germany, and the European Union, could find in this region a possibility of growth and counterbalance with the other superpowers.

However, the Social Democrats are more conscious of the environmental consequences than the conservatives of Angela Merkel want. Even though Scholz has been vice-chancellor of his predecessor and the SPD has been in the government coalition, now the Reds have the command. It is also true that with an alliance with the Greens, Scholz may see drawbacks in increasing trade with the region, since it is evident that the carbon footprint between Latin America and Europe is greater than that of many other Asian and African countries.

This is why the agreements reached by the region with the European Union must have sustainable commitments. Obviously, the American subcontinent is an important factor in the provision of raw materials, but the extractivist vision with a center-left party at the helm will need to be different and with commitments to sustainability and good practices.