Voters in the German federal election on Sunday had the opportunity to sweep away the detritus of 16 years of compromises from retiring Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Green party led in the opinion polls by a good margin earlier in the year. Only a few days ago, the Guardian dared to dream of a red-blooded left-wing coalition between Social Democrats, Greens and the former communist Left Party united by desire for higher taxes, more pernickety controls and a slug of anti-Americanism.
In the end, the German voters did what they have done for much of the post-war era, giving victory to the parties of the right (acknowledging that these labels seem to be less meaningful these days).
Continue reading “With MMP the politicians have to decide what Germany has decided”
It’s not made many headlines outside Germany, but the resignation of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Angela Merkel’s handpicked successor as leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, may be the first step in a broader European political realignment.
Ostensibly she is stepping down because of the mismanaged response to a minor political squabble. Last year’s state election in Thuringia delivered the usual stalemate. Two parties got more than half of the votes between them: the Left party (a successor party to the former East Germany’s communists) and the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a newer right of centre party. Both are customarily labelled ‘far left’ and ‘far right’. Continue reading “Are German political ructions signalling a sea change in European politics?”
BERLIN CORRESPONDENT: Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union selects a new party leader later this week to replace Angela Merkel. If you put your faith in the betting markets, it is odds-on for change.
The continuity candidate is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the current general secretary of the CDU. A close ally of Merkel, her victory would be taken as an endorsement of the Chancellor’s policies during her 18-year tenure in office, including her aggressive centrism (which has seen a coalition with the left-of-centre Social Democrats for much of that time) and a permissive approach to immigration.
At the other end of the spectrum, the party delegates could choose the health minister, Jens Spahn, a fiscal conservative and critic of Merkel.
But the candidate the bookies say has the best chance of winning is the wild card, Friedrich Merz. A former party bigwig, he retired from Parliament in 2009 after being on the wrong end of a power struggle with Merkel.
Continue reading “Change is in the offing for Germany’s ruling party – new leader then must pass muster in Parliament”
London Correspondent: The indispensable European has declared herself surplus to requirements. Last week Germany’s long-serving Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced that she would be stepping down as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union party and would not lead it into the next election (due in 2021, but now likely much sooner).
On one hand, this is something of a surprise. There is no other figure remotely of her stature in German politics. Her dominance in European politics is unchallenged.
The German economy is growing and unemployment is low. Germany is still reaping the long-term benefits of entering monetary union with its economic reforms completed and a competitive cost structure, while the rest of Europe limps slowly through prolonged and painful adjustment.
But from another angle, the surprise is how long it took to get here.
Continue reading “Angela Merkel’s departure will open a new era in German politics”
LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Is order about to emerge suddenly from the confusion of the Brexit negotiations?
The proposal made by British Prime Minister Theresa May in July (the so-called Chequers plan) has been melting down over the northern summer. Initial cabinet resignations were followed by polling showing two-thirds of Conservative party members opposed.
An even larger proportion of the public slate the government’s handling of Brexit. Continue reading “A bit more Brexit brinkmanship is probable before – shazam! – resolution early next year”