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The Spectator Podcast: Merkel’s crack-up

The Spectator Podcast: Merkel's crack-up
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On this week’s episode, we look at the situation in Germany, and whether Angela Merkel can hold things together. We also speak to Norway’s immigration minister, and discuss the dying art of cottaging.

After 12 years as Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel is this week facing the worst crisis of her premiership. Coalition talks collapsed after the Free Democrats walked away from negotiations with Merkel’s Christian Democrats. So where does this leave Germany? In the magazine this week, William Cook calls the situation ‘uniquely damaging’, whilst James Forsyth outlines the implications for Brexit. James joined the podcast, along with Thomas Kielinger, London correspondent for Die Welt. As William writes:

"Suddenly, all the options look bad for Merkel: a minority government with the Greens (which would be inherently unstable); another grand coalition with Schulz’s SPD (which Schulz has repeated rejected) or another election (which centrists fear would give Germany’s anti-immigration party, Alternative für Deutschland, a further boost). Whichever way she chooses, Merkel looks like a dead woman walking. Now, it’s no longer a question of if she goes, but when."

Next: Scandinavian countries have been amongst the most welcoming to refugees, but in Norway the rules are tightening. Sylvi Listhaug is Norway’s Minister of Migration and Integration, leading a charge against economic migrants and rethinking the Norwegian position on asylum seekers. She joined us at the Spectator, where she spoke to our editor, Fraser Nelson. As Fraser writes in his magazine profile:

"After decades in opposition, [Listhaug's] Progress Party entered government four years ago, junior partner in a Conservative-run coalition. Her party envisaged the problems of mass migration in the 1980s, she says, so was well ahead of the populist upstarts now haunting so much of Europe. ‘A lot of them are socialist parties but against immigration. We are a libertarian party. We want less government, so people should decide more over their own life. And we want a stricter immigration policy because that’s important for Norway in the long run.’"

Eyes meeting across urinals, feet creeping under toilet stalls – all across London, men are meeting in private for anonymous gay sex. Cottaging, as it’s called, is a throwback to the days when homosexuality was illegal, but, according to Tom Ball in this week’s magazine, it is somehow managing to thrive in a world of Gaydar and Grindr. Tom joined the podcast along with Graham Kirby, a writer and cottaging aficionado. As Tom writes:

"Cottaging, to clarify, is the act of anonymous sex in a public loo, taking its name from the traditional cottage-like huts that sprang up in almost every popular park in the 19th century. Like its alfresco counterpart, cruising, cottaging takes place uniquely between gay and bisexual men and in the past was a way in which men could meet for sex at a time when homosexuality was illegal. These strange brick shanties with their tiled interiors became safe havens."