Merkel’s Answer to Populist Challenge: Shift to the Left

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Brussels, March 15, 2016
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Brussels, March 15, 2016 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

Angela Merkel’s answer to the defection of right-wing voters is — counterintuitively — to shift further to the left.

Der Spiegel reports that the German chancellor recently told members of her Christian Democratic party (CDU) they need to do better on pay, pensions and housing.

They were expecting a harder line on immigration, which is the issue that galvanized the Alternative for Germany’s voters.

This new far-right party placed third in last month’s election with nearly 13 percent support.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats still won, but with only 33 percent support — their lowest vote share in over half a century. Read more

Highlights and Takeaways from the Merkel-Schulz Debate

German chancellor Angela Merkel listens to Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz during a televised debate, September 3
German chancellor Angela Merkel listens to Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz during a televised debate, September 3 (DPA)

German chancellor Angela Merkel debated Martin Schulz, the leader of the Social Democrats, on television tonight. It was the party leaders’ only debate before the election later this month.

Here are my highlights and takeaways. Read more

Marriage Vote Has All the Characteristics of Merkel’s Success

German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses her parliament in Berlin, June 14, 2012
German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses her parliament in Berlin, June 14, 2012 (Bundesregierung)

Germany’s vote for marriage equality is a perfect example of how Angela Merkel has been able to stay in power for twelve years.

Parliament unexpectedly voted to legalize gay marriage on Friday after Merkel announced a free vote. A quarter of her own Christian Democrats joined the left in supporting marriage equality. Read more

Merkel’s Call Not to Rely on America: Reckless or Prudent?

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, November 9, 2016
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, November 9, 2016 (Bundesregierung)

Angela Merkel stunned Germany’s allies this weekend when she suggested Europe could no longer rely on the United States.

“The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days,” she told supporters of her conservative party in Bavaria.

Merkel had just returned from NATO and G7 summits in Brussels and Italy. Read more

Other Conservatives Should Be Wary of Imitating Kurz and May

Sebastian Kurz is seen leaving an Austrian People's Party meeting in Vienna, May 14
Sebastian Kurz is seen leaving an Austrian People’s Party meeting in Vienna, May 14 (ÖVP/Jakob Glaser)

Center-right parties in Western Europe are responding to competition from the nativist right in radically different ways.

Whereas Dutch prime minister and liberal party leader Mark Rutte argued against the “pessimism” of the nationalist Freedom Party in the March election and won, conservative leaders in Austria and the United Kingdom have chosen to appease reactionary voters. Read more

It’s Not You, It’s Us: Germans Ready to Let Merkel Go

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, March 24, 2015
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, March 24, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

Twelve years into the Merkel era, Germans are ready for a change.

A Politbarometer poll conducted for ZDF television found that one in two voters want Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat, to become chancellor after the election in September.

Only 38 percent prefer Angela Merkel to stay. Read more

Let’s Not Read Too Much into Schulzmania Yet

German Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, gives a speech in Brussels, February 2, 2016
German Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, gives a speech in Brussels, February 2, 2016 (European Parliament)

Germany’s Social Democrats are gaining ground on the once unassailable conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Since the party nominated Martin Schulz for the chancellorship last month, it has gone up in the polls. Whereas the Social Democrats were stuck in the low 20s for much of 2016, they have climbed up to nearly 30 percent support in the last few weeks.

One survey, released on Monday, even put the Social Democrats one point ahead of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Read more