German chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have succeeded in shedding their "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats (SPD). Merkel's CDU in combination with the Free Democrats (FDP) will be able to form a coalition government after the FDP gained approximately 15% to put with the CDU's nearly 34%. SPD gained 31% of the vote in its worst performance in postwar German history. CDU's performance was one of its worst but its slippage was compensated for by their prospective coalition partner the FDP.
While the new coalition is likely to change German domestic policies by adding tax cuts that the FDP ran on, the more important effect of the election is in foreign policy. The SPD, which was controlling foreign policy prior to the election, was uncomfortable verging on hostile with the United States and was had a very close relationship with Russia. The FDP, which is likely to take over foreign policy, is uninterested in working much with Russia and is much more pro-American than the SPD. Unlikely to be repeated is the meeting after Merkel and Medvedev both met with President Barack Obama and then met with one another to compare notes on their meeting.
The new coalition also leaves open an outside chance that Germany could contribute more troops to Afghanistan. The public wants the government to declare a date certain when German troops will be out of Afghanistan but Merkel now has the option of choosing to send more troops there if she wishes. The FDP is likely to support such a move and, if Merkel agrees, it could happen. Although it is unclear if the new coalition could bring that major of a change to the American-German relationship.