Now that the Liberal Party's mini-Trump Christian Lindner blew up Jamaica there are no good options for moving forward. The SPD refuses to participate in another grand coalition. The FDP will not come back to the table - Lindner is firm about this. A minority government doesn't seem feasible. So the most likely path - the one favored by Angela Merkel - would be a new election in early 2018. This solution, however, carries risks that remind us of the last Neuwahl in German history that led to the destruction of the Weimar Republic and eventually to the Nazi seizure of power three years later.
Warum das Grundgesetz von vorgezogenen Neuwahlen nichts hält, ist historisch erklärbar: Es reagiert auf die Zerstörung der Weimarer Demokratie nach dem 27. März 1930, als die letzte parlamentarisch legitimierte Regierung scheiterte. Vorgezogene Neuwahlen am 14. September ließen die bisherige Splitterpartei NSDAP zu einem erstrangigen Machtfaktor der deutschen Politik werden. Ihre Mandatszahl schnellte auf 107 Reichstagssitze hoch, gleichzeitig verbesserten sich die Kommunisten.
Then, as now, the parties were unable - and unwilling - to compromise on critical issues, which lead to an increasingly violent polarization. Of course, there are huge differences between Weimar Germany and the Federal Republic today. Instead of an economic depression the German economy is booming, and the democratic institutions remain strong. Still, the political realities in Poland, Hungary, Czech and Austria show that right-wing populism - fanned by Russian-infiltrated social media - has strong support among huge swaths of the population. There is a very good chance that the beneficiary of a new election would be the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, since many voters see the collapse of Jamaica as evidence of weakness of Angela Merkel and the mainstream political parties.
Just a few weeks after the Neuwahl in September 1930 Thomas Mann delivered his famous speech Appell an die Vernunft ("Appeal to Reason"), in which he outlined how the nation had arrived at this crisis and warned about the consequences of right-wing extremism if left unchecked.
[T]he moment has already come when militant nationalism displays itself less militantly for foreign than for domestic consumption…Its hatred is levelled not so much without as within; yes, actually its fanatical love of the fatherland appears chiefly as hatred not of the foreigner but of all Germans who do not believe in its methods and whom it promises to destroy root and branch.
Mann's speech was, for the most part, ignored or greeted with derision.
Who today has a similar stature to deliver a message? And would anyone even bother to listen?