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The new risk for Europe: an inward-looking Germany

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In 2008, in a fit of pique over Angela Merkel's cautious response to the global financial crisis, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, lashed out at his German counterpart.

"While France is acting, Germany is just thinking about it," Sarkozy seethed.

Nearly a decade later, after an election that has weakened Merkel and vaulted a new far-right party into the German parliament, European fears of a risk-averse, inward-looking Germany are back.

"If you are sitting in other European capitals, you are watching nervously," said Robin Niblett, director of the Chatham House think tank in London. "Merkel's room to take conciliatory positions, to play a leadership role and to move Europe forward has narrowed."

Back in 2008, the complexity of the fast-moving financial crisis and an aversion to big stimulus measures made Merkel cautious. This time, domestic politics is the driver.

At a time when new French President Emmanuel Macron is pressing Merkel to work with him to reshape Europe and Brexit negotiations with Britain are nearing crunch time, the German chancellor faces months of difficult coalition negotiations that could lead to a dead-end.

If she is able to cobble together a three-way coalition with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and environmentalist Greens -- her only option for now -- it would almost surely be a less stable........

© Japan Today