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,

Could a left-wing coalition end up running Germany?

A spectre is haunting Germany — the spectre of the left. As Merkel’s Christian Democrats fall further behind in the closing weeks of the federal elections, there is now a real possibility of a left-wing coalition forming that might include the far-left party Die Linke. ‘They will never commit to Nato,’ barked Armin Laschet, leader of Merkel’s CDU and her would-be successor in a televised debate with his rivals last Sunday. He demanded to know if Olaf Scholz, chancellor candidate for the social democratic SPD, and the Greens’ Annalena Baerbock would rule out a coalition with Die Linke. Neither did. To Armin Laschet and many in his conservative camp, the

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

The uninspiring choice facing German voters

The gloves are off in Germany’s electoral race. As personal insults are traded and skeletons dragged from their closets, even the German president — a figurehead who normally stays above politics — has urged all parties not to let the campaign descend into ‘mud-slinging’. In a rare political intervention, Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that ‘measure and reason’ were preconditions of a functioning democracy. What had happened to cause the head of state such concern? The German Green party has long complained that their leader Annalena Baerbock is being subjected to a sexist smear campaign. Her party’s inexperienced spin doctors suddenly had a wave of allegations to deal with — from inaccuracies

Why Merkel’s party is backing a political lightweight to replace her

The run-up to the German federal elections in September was supposed to be dull and predictable. Merkel would name a successor and the German public would grudgingly vote for the chosen one as there was nowhere else to go. If this predictable drudge meant disaffecting voters further and losing another couple of percentage points here or there, so be it. The German conservatives would still come out as the strongest party and select its partners for a coalition, just as Merkel has done for the last four terms in office. But things have changed. The gravity of Merkel’s own personality was what held many votes tied to a party that

Merkel’s blundering lockdown U-turn

During her 16 years in office, Angela Merkel has produced a couple of memorable sentences that will be imprinted into her legacy. She added a few more on Wednesday, when she announced that the government rescinds plans of a radical Easter shutdown, saying: ‘This mistake is my mistake alone.’ Merkel’s CDU is rapidly losing the support of voters — their approval rating has dropped 9 per cent to just 26 within a week It is quite remarkable to see a leader taking the full blame for what has been perceived as a hasty and impetuous decision. Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premiers had agreed on a radical lockdown over the Easter

Could the Green party revive Germany’s fortunes?

The BMWs and Mercs will be banned from the autobahns. People will only have electricity when there is enough of a breeze to keep the windmills turning. And the factories will be on a three-day week, while the airports will be converted into organic farms. Most businesses, and of course conservatives of any sort, will be nervous at the increasingly likely prospect of the Greens taking charge in Berlin later this year. But they shouldn’t be. In fact, they would be a huge improvement on Angela Merkel’s chaotic twilight years. As she heads towards retirements, Merkel’s legacy is looking very tarnished. The CDU is slumping in the polls. It has

Support for Merkel’s party is crumbling

On Sunday, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) suffered a historic election defeat in their former heartlands of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. ‘The state elections struck deep at the heart of the union of the CDU and CSU,’ said Markus Söder, leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union. To an increasingly frustrated public, the ruling parties in the capital look tired and devoid of ideas. There is no incentive for Merkel and her cabinet to turn things around. After 16 years in government and on the brink of retirement, she has become a lame-duck chancellor. Some German journalists have even begun to call the whole