Angela merkel

Why are the German authorities so reluctant to believe in neo-Nazi attacks?

Enver Simsek’s life story was one familiar to many migrants. He moved from Turkey to a small town in Germany, then worked hard in a factory during the week and as a cleaner at weekends before starting his own business as a florist. By the turn of this century, he employed almost a dozen people selling his blooms from stalls and stands across Bavaria. So in the summer of 2000, he took his wife and two teenage children back to his native land for a break. Soon after returning, the 38-year-old was shot eight times in the head and shoulder, left dying in a pool of blood amid the bouquets

Has Germany finally shaken off its dark past?

In 1982, a board game appeared in West Germany. If you landed on square B9 you were sent to a refugee camp in Hesse where you became ill from loneliness, unfamiliar food and not being allowed to work. Worse still, you had to miss a go and spend the free time thinking about ‘how you would feel in such a situation’. Even if, like me, your childhood was spent crying over lost games of Monopoly, nothing could quite prepare you for the cheerless experience of playing ‘Flight and Expulsion Across the World’. It’s unlikely an updated version has been commissioned for our home secretary, with players assigned counters representing the

How the British intelligentsia fell out of love with Germany

An economic slowdown, the far right on the rise, even apocalyptic hailstorms – what on earth is happening in Germany? Is Europe’s industrial powerhouse on the slide? Well, yes and no. Germany is in recession, and Germany’santi-immigration party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), is growing stronger, but the bad news coming out of Germany indicates a more lasting sea change: liberal Britain has finally fallen out of love with the Bundesrepublik. It’s not just British Teutonophiles who are troubled by the rise of AfD. This week Germany’s domestic spy chief, Thomas Haldenwang, warned about growing right-wing extremism within the party and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has echoed these concerns. ‘Ban the

Germany has rejected Merkel’s military legacy

‘We are witnessing a turning point… the world is not the same anymore,’ said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz yesterday in a speech that will be remembered as the country’s biggest military shift since 1945. Staring down the barrel of Putin’s gun, Scholz announced a massive and immediate cash injection for Germany’s armed forces as well as a long-term commitment to higher defence spending. Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine has pulled Germany out of decades of complacency and misguided pacifism. Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock seemed genuinely shocked at the discrepancy between Putin’s words during her visit to Moscow last month and his actions in Ukraine. She has said she feels betrayed:

Covid could paralyse the new German coalition

An iron curtain has descended on Europe, and once again, it goes right through the middle of Germany. The average national infection rate is currently exploding, but the real story is not the average, but the vast gap between east and west, with another gap between the north and south. The north-west of Germany is like the rest of the western EU, cases growing but not at such an alarming rate. But the south-east is like central and eastern Europe. Hospitals are overflowing. Berlin has ceased all non-emergency operations. Germany’s formidable and numerous intensive care units are now for the first time in the pandemic experiencing bottlenecks, for which they

Merkel knows how to stop Polexit. The EU won’t listen

The EU is notoriously bad at learning from its own mistakes, mostly because it is unable to recognise these mistakes in the first place. A notable exception is austerity. There is now a consensus that it was a disaster, which blighted Europe’s economic resilience for a generation. A mistake the EU has not recognised yet is its role in Brexit: how it negotiated with David Cameron, and how it sided with the second referendum after the election, thus helping to create the political backlash that has destroyed even the faintest hope of a rapprochement with the UK. In what may be her last European Council, Angela Merkel yesterday spoke truth

The German elections are good news for Macron

The German election result means that a three party coalition will almost certainly be needed to form a government. Olaf Scholz, the SPD leader, has made clear just now that he is going to try and form a coalition with the Greens and the Free Democrats. Whoever succeeds her will take time to build up the authority that Merkel had in these meetings Scholz has a strong claim on the chancellery. The SPD came first in the election and polls consistently showed that he was Germans’ preferred choice for candidate. Despite being from a different party, Scholz successfully positioned himself as the Merkel continuity candidate. The results might suggest a

Wolfgang Münchau

Who will succeed Merkel?

The results of the German election have shifted somewhat since last night’s exit poll. What we know for sure is that a red-red-green coalition — between the centre-left SPD, far-left Die Linke and the Greens — is short of a majority, which is contrary to what every single opinion poll projected in the last few weeks That is the single biggest news from the German elections. It deprives SPD leader Olaf Scholz of what he would have needed to force the free-market liberals of the FDP and Greens into a coalition, also known as the traffic light coalition. A coalition involving Die Linke could have been leveraged to sharpen minds,

The stalemate election: can Germany move beyond Merkel?

Germany’s election campaign has taken many unexpected turns. In January, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), were leading by about 20 percentage points. By April, the Greens were ahead. By July, the CDU/CSU had bounced back, and then all of a sudden, the Social Democrats (SPD) came out of nowhere to a solid lead by last weekend. The gap has since closed a little ahead of Sunday’s election — and the joyride is still not over. What is also different about these elections is that, based on current polling, four, five or even six coalitions might be arithmetically possible. So the real battle will likely start only after the election. One

Germany is facing political stagnation

Jamaica, Germany, Kenya or traffic lights? The names of the potential German coalitions — and their corresponding party colours — can be quite exotic. But as the vote has begun to split in the run up to the federal elections next month, the possible combinations that will make up Germany’s government have grown. The race is still wide open. Coalitions were purposefully built into Germany’s post-war democracy — the voting system mixes first-past-the-post with proportional representation to ensure a workable splintering. With one notable exception in 1957, no political party has received the votes of over half of the electorate outright. It usually falls to the party with the most

Europe will suffer as Germany drifts

Over the last 15 years Germany has come to be seen by many in Europe as a paragon of political stability. Whereas other countries have suffered rising unemployment, unmanageable levels of public debt or a rising wave of far-right support, Germany’s perennial chancellor Merkel demonstrated that her talents as a political fixer were superior to any challenge. Never very keen on taking the long term view of politics, she cultivated the most essential art of politics: survival. There were certainly moments of real danger for her. The Euro and migrant crises triggered discontent both in her party and the electorate at large. But she never lost her nerve and in

Merkelism is here to stay – and that’s bad news for German politics

When Angela Merkel leaves office after Bundestag elections next month, she will have forever changed the course of German history. Merkel has steered Germany through a recession, the Eurozone and migration crises and the Covid-19 pandemic. During the Trump presidency, Germany’s chancellor became an icon for liberals around the world. Yet her legacy in terms of Germany’s domestic politics leaves much to be desired. And her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party has been left searching for meaning, with many voters now left wondering what the point of the Union is after Mutti. On the face of it, Merkel’s insistence on reaching for consensus in German politics appears to be something to celebrate. Under her

How will Merkel cope with retirement?

Retirement sounds pretty nice. The ONS says that pensioners spend an average of seven hours and ten minutes a day on leisure activities. Over seven hours. That’s a lot of time for nice things. Yet the prospect of retirement can bring a certain dread. According to a YouGov survey, only around half of people about to retire look forward to it. The reality of having nothing to do is as terrifying as it is thrilling. So how do you feel when you have not held any old job, but one that kept you busy 24/7, one that let you meet hundreds of people every day and one that gave you an enormous

What Merkel’s visit means for Brexit Britain

Angela Merkel visited the UK yesterday for the last time as German chancellor – the 22nd visit she has paid in her 16 years at the helm of German politics. Such an auspicious occasion however did not stop Boris Johnson from starting their joint press statement with a humorous jibe. A wry smile on his face, he told Merkel: ‘it was certainly a tradition, Angela, for England to lose to Germany in international football tournaments and I’m obviously grateful to you for breaking with that tradition, just for once.’ Good-natured, football-themed exchanges between the two nations were also in play elsewhere. The German ambassador in London, Andreas Michaelis, tweeted on Tuesday

Boris bids to reset Anglo-German relations

Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel have just held a joint press conference following their meeting at Chequers. The usual contrast in styles was on display; Merkel picked her words very cautiously while Johnson made sausages jokes—quipping that the ‘wurst was behind us’ when it came to chilled meats and the Northern Ireland protocol.  On a more substantive level, Merkel expressed concerns about the size of the crowds at the Euro 2020 games; and remember they’ll be even bigger for the semi-final and final at Wembley. But Johnson argued that the vaccines and pre-match testing made these pretty safe events. The Johnson-Merkel relationship has been defined by Brexit. But today’s visit was

Angela’s ashes: Merkel is leaving the EU in chaos

Perhaps the most absurd thing ever said about Angela Merkel is that she was the de facto leader of the western world. She has certainly been one of Europe’s most successful politicians, if you define success as political survival. But as she comes to the end of her 16 years in office, her luck is deserting her and the mess she has created is becoming horribly apparent. She leaves behind a split EU that is not just unled but might now be unleadable. Humiliating reminders of Merkel’s imploded authority come regularly. Take her latest idea to keep British tourists out of the EU this summer. Germany is imposing a mandatory

Why an EU-Russia summit was always going to fail

When Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel unilaterally proposed a European Union summit with Vladimir Putin, they managed to open deep fault lines in the continent over the EU’s Russia policy. Soon afterwards, Macron and Merkel were forced into an embarrassing reversal, largely by the countries of Central Europe, and had to cancel the proposed summit. In the process the two world leaders highlighted that this was not the right time for a summit, that the EU is divided over Russia, and that this kind of initiative plays into Russia’s misunderstanding of the Union. The suspicion must be that Macron and Merkel wanted to emulate the success of Joseph Biden’s recent

Germany’s growing extremism problem

On 2 June 2019, a German politician was found lying in a pool of blood outside his home in Hesse. He had been shot in the head at close range with a .38 Rossi revolver. Walter Lübcke, the 65-year-old leader of Kassel city council, who had been a vocal supporter of Germany’s immigration policy, had been assassinated by a German member of the British neo-Nazi group Combat 18. On Tuesday, his killer was sentenced to life in prison. Lübcke’s murder is the most extreme example of Germany’s increasingly alarming relationship with immigration, anti-Semitism, and fanatical politics. Last year Armin Laschet, the chancellor candidate for Lübcke’s CDU party, dispatched a veiled

Merkel is right to reject Biden’s vaccine patent plan

She handed the vaccine procurement process over to the European Union. She didn’t invest much in new production. And she allowed an American multinational to take control of a brilliant discovery by a small German biotech company. Angela Merkel, the out-going German Chancellor, has not had much success battling the Covid-19 crisis, and her handling of vaccines has been a catastrophe from start to finish. But she has finally got one thing right: she is defending the patents that protect the pharmaceutical industry. In the last week, president Biden has signalled that the United States is ready to back suspending patents on Covid vaccines. The president of the EU commission, Ursula

Merkel’s vaccine nationalism threatens India

You might have thought that Europe’s leaders would be wary of handing Brussels greater powers, given the various mishaps of the EU’s vaccine procurement and roll out scheme since January. But for German Chancellor Angela Merkel the sorry episode has served less a chastening warning about the dangers of Euro integration than a justification for a more centralised state. Speaking earlier this week in a video conversation with European People’s party group leader Manfred Weber, Merkel aligned herself with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen whose handling of the pandemic has been widely criticised. The outgoing chancellor said ‘it is good’ that VdL wants more power to coordinate and regulate health issues, saying ‘I believe