Remember when Germany faced its “biggest political crisis since the late 1940s,” as one BBC journalist put it?
Or when, according to National Review, Angela Merkel had been “marooned“?
Or CNN reported that the “Merkel myth” had “imploded“?
When the first coalition talks in Germany — between the Christian Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens — collapsed in November, I said don’t panic. Merkel still had plenty of options, I pointed out: another grand coalition with the Social Democrats, a minority government, a second try at talks with the Free Democrats and Greens.
Option #2 seems to be working out. Social Democratic Party members can still torpedo the pact, but party leaders agree that another left-right coalition is in the national interest. You can read all about it here.
The over-the-top reaction in the English-language press to the setback in November is another reason why you shouldn’t read only American and British reporting about European politics.
For the British, everything is about Brexit. Hence the immediate speculation about what a government with the Social Democrats, as opposed to the Free Democrats, could mean for the negotiations with the EU. (The answer: very little.)
Americans are not familiar with multiparty democracy, so they tend to overanalyze events like the collapse of coalition talks and underestimate the strength of governments once they have a legislative majority.