In Germany's federal electoral system, coalition governments are a potential outcome in the Bundestag.[1] As German political parties are often associated with particular colors, coalitions are frequently given nicknames based on the colors included.[2][3] Prominent political parties in Germany are the CDU/CSU (black; ), the SPD (red), the Greens (green), the Left (red, presented as magenta), the AfD (blue), and the FDP (yellow).[4]


Due to the fact that Germany has traditionally had proportional representation electoral systems, both at the federal level and in the states, and because a multi-party system has emerged with two major 'people's parties' (CDU/CSU and SPD) and some smaller 'milieu parties' that are nevertheless frequently represented in parliaments (Alliance 90/The Greens, FDP, The Left, AfD), single-party governments with absolute majorities are quite rare. At the federal level, this constellation has occurred only once so far: Between 1957 and 1961, the CDU/CSU held an absolute majority in the Bundestag and was able to govern alone (cabinet Adenauer III). In the states, too, single-party governments have been quite rare, with the exception of the Free State of Bavaria, where the CSU has many times been able to achieve absolute majorities in state elections. Currently, only one of 16 German states, Saarland, has a single-party government, comprised solely of the SPD.

The two two-party coalitions usually preferred for reasons of ideological proximity are the more center-right Black/Yellow coalition (CDU/CSU and FDP) and the more center-left Red/Green coalition (SPD and Alliance 90/The Greens). A third type of two-party-coalition, which occurs especially after inconclusive election results, is the "Grand coalition" of the two larger parties CDU/CSU and SPD, but these are relatively rare, due to the ideological difference between the two. Parties frequently make statements ahead of elections which coalitions they categorically reject.

In Germany, coalitions rarely consist of more than two parties (CDU and CSU, two allies which always form the CDU/CSU caucus, counted as a single party). However, in the 2010s coalitions at the state level increasingly included three parties, often FDP, Greens and one of the major parties or "red-red-green" coalitions of SPD, Left and Greens. The Greens have joined governments on the state level in eleven coalitions in seven various combinations.[5]

In December 2021, following the September German general elections, a traffic light coalition (SPD, FDP, and Greens) led by Olaf Scholz took power in Germany, the first time a three-party coalition had formed the federal government.[6]

Possible combinations

Possible coalitions include:

Due to the general non-cooperation between the AfD and all other parties, hypothetical coalitions involving the AfD are rarely discussed. A coalition of CDU/CSU, AfD and FDP would have a majority in the 20th Bundestag elected in 2021, but was not seriously discussed publicly by either media or politicians. Such a coalition does not have a common nickname, but the term "Bahamas coalition", in reference to the colors of the flag of the Bahamas (including the AfD's light blue), was coined in 2013.[7][8] Other coalitions involving the AfD are considered even more unlikely due to lack of parliamentary majority, ideological differences and the cordon sanitaire.[citation needed]

The state of Schleswig-Holstein is home to a Danish minority, who have their own ethnic party called the South Schleswig Voters' Association (SSW). In state politics, a coalition between the SPD, Greens, and SSW, is called the Danish traffic light (de), or Gambia coalition because these parties' colors (including the SSW's dark blue) match the flag of the Gambia. Such a coalition was in power between 2012 and 2017, led by minister president Torsten Albig, and with SSW leader Anke Spoorendonk serving as justice minister.


  1. ^ Reuters (2021-09-27). "Factbox: German "traffic light" coalition seen as most likely". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2021-09-28. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  2. ^ Gehrke, Laurenz (2021-09-27). "What are the coalition options after Germany's election?". POLITICO. Archived from the original on 2021-09-27. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  3. ^ "German voters face a bewildering array of possible coalitions". The Economist. 2021-09-04. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 2021-09-28. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  4. ^ "The many colours of German coalitions". The Economist. 2021-03-13. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 2021-09-28. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  5. ^ Jungjohann, Arne (2017). German Greens in Coalition Governments. A Political Analysis (PDF). Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union and Green European Foundation. p. 19. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-08-28. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  6. ^ Hauptmeier, Carsten (2021-11-25). "First ever three-party alliance". Retrieved 2022-01-24.
  7. ^ "Bundestagswahl: Das Gespenst einer Bahamas-Koalition geht um". Die Welt. 8 September 2013.
  8. ^ ""Bahamas-Koalition": Opposition wittert Bündnis zwischen Union und AfD". Die Welt. 11 September 2013.