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Don't be fooled by Merkel's aura of invincibility

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Unlike the nerve-jangling elections earlier this year in the Netherlands, France and Britain, Germany’s has been notably dull. The country that invented“Sturm und Drang” is showing a distinct lack of storm and stress as Angela Merkel heads towards a fourth term as chancellor.

That seemingly inexorable outcome on Sunday has raised hopes that she will push through greater integration within the euro area, in partnership with French president Emmanuel Macron, while also championing the rules-based international order that America has forsaken under Donald Trump. But Merkel will find it hard to satisfy such expectations, since she will face new political constraints at home, while the basis for her authority, German economic strength, will come under increasing strain.

A string of polls suggests that the politics of Merkel’s fourth term will be tricky. The chancellor is a long way ahead but she is not doing as well as in the last election, in 2013. Recent findings show support for her center-right CDU party(together with the CSU in Bavaria) at around 36 percent, down from the 41.5 percent she managed four years ago. Because of Germany’s electoral system, which broadly aligns the distribution of seats in the Bundestag with the parties’ share of the vote – while excluding those that fail to reach a 5 percent voting threshold - she will once again have to form a coalition.

The most stable government would be another “grand coalition” with the center-left SPD, her current partner, which is currently polling at around 22 percent. That might appeal to the SPD leadership but many party members are opposed to playing second fiddle again, not least since this does not pay off at the polls.........

© Japan Today