If one brought up the topic of political polarization....it tends to mean various political attitudes exist and they tug upon the public in various ways. It's like you walked into a pub with twenty people and brought up taxation, and virtually everyone had some opinion and they were hyped up to chat about this in a lively discussion.
The lack of political polarization? It kinda means that you walk into a pub with twenty people and bring up diesel vehicles, and only six people have some kind of solid opinion and the rest are just in a state of daze....not really knowing the full topic, the slant on this, or wanting to make this some impact discussion.
In a normal election year in Germany (for the national election)....you'd find the full twenty folks in this pub having some topics on their mind, and willing to talk about this in full detail. Well, 2017 is simply NOT a normal year. If you dragged the twenty working-class Germans out into a circle at your local pub....there's nothing much right now on their mind that would get them hyped up.
I will offer five explanations for this:
1. The economy, while not on fire....isn't exactly doing too bad. Folks will complain about the lack of a pay-raise in the past five years, but the unemployment rate is low and things seem fine (if compared against 2008).
2. The immigration screw-up has been mended to some minor degree by the EU's deal with Erdogan to hold back refugees. A couple billion Euro is sent to Turkey each year and the smuggler crowd is told to just sit and behave. The Germans are on track for about 250,000 to 300,000 migrants or immigrants for 2017....which is mostly where they were in 2011 or 2012 before the crisis began. The three billion Euro that the EU is sending? Well....yeah....Germany is quietly paying almost a billion out of that, but no one really notices the money being shifted over to the EU partner or going eventually off to Turkey.
3. As hard as the SPD has tried to bring up counter topics against Merkel and the CDU....none of them have caught the interest of the public.
4. The public TV news crowd haven't had a real sensational gut-punch on Merkel for months now. In the game of political chess, she has sized up the topics of conversation and limited screw-ups or their becoming massive chat topics in the eye of the public. Even the diesel crisis has turned into a very controllable mess with this diesel-summit (even with marginal accomplishments coming out of the summit). The G-20 Summit? It's results without all the violence and fires....would have been a major hype for Merkel, compliments of the public news media.
5. The SPD has run out of five-star topics. Over the past decade, it's safe to say that Merkel's vision has been to adapt to the competition and turn the CDU into some creature which is a mixture of a mild conservatism, the SPD platform, the Green platform, and the intellectual class. Older Germans could readily say this party was for this, and that party was for that.....but in today's environment....Merkel and the CDU are mostly everything.
Crafted to last through 2021? This is the curious part of the story. It is the end of the Merkel story and for the next four years....it'll play out. For the SPD, it's a difficult situation to project any future twist or turn to benefit them. The economy ought to stay on track for the next year easily. The immigration mess is mostly simmering because of the possibility of Africa being the next problem area. The news media? They will carry the Merkel message through to 2021, I think.
More of the same....would be safe to project.