Takeaways from the Bavaria State Election

The skyline of Nuremberg, Germany
The skyline of Nuremberg, Germany (Unsplash/Markus Spiske)

Readers of the Atlantic Sentinel will know by now that most English-language media have a tendency to sensationalize challenges to Angela Merkel’s leadership in Germany. That’s how the collapse of the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria is being reported as well.

Support for Merkel’s conservative allies, who have governed Bavaria uninterrupted since 1957, fell to an historic low of 37.2 percent in the state election on Sunday.

But it’s not all about the chancellor. Read more

Christian Democratic Lawmakers Rebel Against Merkel

German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses parliament in Berlin, September 14, 2012
German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses parliament in Berlin, September 14, 2012 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

Christian Democratic (CDU) lawmakers in Germany have rebelled against Chancellor Angela Merkel by picking a relatively unknown as their group leader.

Volker Kauder, a close Merkel ally who had led the CDU in the Bundestag for thirteen years, lost in a secret ballot to Ralph Brinkhaus, his deputy. The vote was 112 to 125.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that party leaders did not see the revolt coming. Bild calls it a “spectacular defeat” for Merkel. Die Welt argues that her authority has been “badly damaged”. Read more

How to Interpret the Collapse of Bavaria’s Christian Democrats?

German Christian Social Union party leaders Joachim Herrmann, Horst Seehofer and Markus Söder speak in Munich, March 16, 2013
German Christian Social Union party leaders Joachim Herrmann, Horst Seehofer and Markus Söder speak in Munich, March 16, 2013 (Michael Lucan)

How much of a cautionary tale is the center-right’s collapse in Bavaria?

The Christian Social Union (CSU), which allies with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats nationally, is down from nearly 48 percent support in the last state election to 35-37 percent in recent polls. The far-right Alternative for Germany is up from 4 to 11-13 percent. Read more

Merkel Breaks with German Tradition in Seeking EU’s Top Job

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 has broken with German tradition by endorsing a fellow German for the EU’s top job: the presidency of the European Commission.

Merkel supports Manfred Weber, the group leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), as Spitzenkandidat for the European Parliament elections in 2019.

Given that the EPP is, and will most likely remain, the largest bloc, Weber’s election is almost a foregone conclusion. Read more

Social Democrats in Iberia and Scandinavia Try Opposite Strategies

Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2
Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2 (Governo da República Portuguesa/Clara Azevedo)

What is the future of European social democracy? Your answer to that question may depend on where you live.

If you’re in the Mediterranean, it’s cooperation with the far left. Social democrats in Portugal and Spain have come to power under deals with far-left parties. In both cases, unwieldy coalitions were greeted with skepticism, but now Prime Ministers António Costa and Pedro Sánchez are riding high in the polls.

In Greece, Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party has even supplanted the center-left altogether.

In Scandinavia, by contrast, social democrats are trying to win back working-class voters by taking a harder line on borders, crime and defense.

Both strategies appear to be working. Read more

Removing American Troops from Germany Would Be a Mistake

A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft lands at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 7, 2011
A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft lands at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 7, 2011 (Timm Ziegenthaler)

President Donald Trump, apparently surprised to learn (two years on the job) that the United States have around 35,000 troops in Germany, is considering pulling his soldiers out. He has ordered the Defense Department to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of their presence.

Such a study would no doubt find the benefits outweigh the costs. Those 35,000 troops — down from a Cold War peak of 400,000 — serve American, not German, interests. Read more

Macron, Merkel Agree on Eurozone Reforms

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Meseberg, June 19
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Meseberg, June 19 (Bundesregierung)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has met many of French president Emmanuel Macron’s demands for eurozone reform during a meeting in Meseberg outside Berlin. Read more