This chapter evaluates the responses of Germany’s parties on the left to the
crisis, something which has so far been largely ignored as analyses have
tended to focus almost entirely on the policy choices taken by Angela
Merkel’s centre right Christian Democratic Party. The chapter looks at three
phases and analyses the left’s role towards the crisis through the
CDU/CSU-SPD (2005–2009); CDU/CSU-FDP (2009–2013), and CDU/CSU-SPD
(2013–2017) coalition government periods. The 2013 election is particularly
significant, and this chapter focuses on it. The result in 2013 made a left
coalition possible, but instead, the SPD chose to go into a grand coalition
with the right. The chapter concludes by evaluating the prospects for the
left, particularly in relation to their cooperation and to challenging the
dominance of the CDU/CSU.
This chapter explores the reasons for the state of surprise, sketching them out from the starting point of the significant impact of the collapse of the USSR on Western understandings of Russia. It also explores the practical ramifications for the decline of Russia as a political priority on the wider political stage. The chapter outlines some of the problems of the current mainstream discussion of Russia, which is drowning in a discourse of speculation and rumour, 'Putinology' and historical analogies. Despite the dominance of transitological/regime question approach and the perceived eccentricity of Kremlinology, for many it has remained a truism of Russian political life that the final decisions are made behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. In fact, the collapse of the USSR has had serious ramifications for the study of Russia in the West, resulting in a major reassessment of Soviet studies, often bitter and acrimonious.