Merkel Eclipsed by Macron, Mistaking Trump’s Lies for Authenticity

Donald Trump Emmanuel Macron
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Emmanuel Macron of France speak in the Red Room of the White House in Washington DC, April 24 (White House/D. Myles Cullen)

Der Spiegel laments that Angela Merkel is allowing Emmanuel Macron to take the lead in Europe.

The left-leaning weekly has complained for years that Merkel isn’t bold and visionary enough, but they have a point this time: Macron has seduced both eurocrats in Brussels and Donald Trump in Washington while Merkel’s authority in Berlin has been significantly reduced by a disappointing election result in September.

Also read Nicholas Vinocur in Politico on the French leader’s transatlantic ambitions:

Macron is determined to restore France’s greatness and Trump’s friendship elevates Paris as a nuclear power with a seat on the United Nations Security Council at a time when Britain — usually Washington’s preferred ally — is sidelined by the Brexit process.

Read more “Merkel Eclipsed by Macron, Mistaking Trump’s Lies for Authenticity”

Merkel Presents Alternative Eurozone Plan, Erdoğan Calls Early Elections

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel waits for other leaders to arrive at the G7 summit in Bavaria, June 8, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

Angela Merkel’s response to Emmanuel Macron’s EU reform push is to beef up the Eurogroup: the regular conclave of finance ministers from the nineteen countries that use the single currency. Merkel would add economy ministers to the meetings and expand the Eurogroup’s remit to include all areas of economic policy.

Mehreen Khan argues in the Financial Times that it’s a good way to sabotage eurozone reform: “you effectively hollow out decisionmaking power and create a glorified talking shop.”

I think that’s an exaggeration, but Merkel and Macron do have different priorities.

The former, backed by a Dutch-led alliance of liberal member states, calls for structural reforms to boost competitiveness in the south. Macron argues for investments to promote convergence.

The end goal is the same, but the way they would get there is very different: Merkel puts the onus on the laggards while Macron argues for a shared responsibility. Hence his push for a common eurozone budget and a European finance minister. Read more “Merkel Presents Alternative Eurozone Plan, Erdoğan Calls Early Elections”

Merkel’s Possible Successors

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
Prime Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer of Saarland attends a session of the Federal Council in Berlin, Germany, July 10, 2015 (Bundesrat/Henning Schacht)

Angela Merkel is expected to step down as leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic party (CDU) some time during or after her fourth term as chancellor.

Der Spiegel reports that she is grooming Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the prime minister of Saarland, as her successor.

But there are at least two more candidates: Ursula von der Leyen, the current defense minister, and Jens Spahn, a lawmaker from North Rhine-Westphalia. Read more “Merkel’s Possible Successors”

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

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Kiev, Ukraine, February 5, 2015 (Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler)

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

Marriage Vote Has All the Characteristics of Merkel’s Success

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel waits for other leaders to arrive at the G7 summit in Bavaria, June 8, 2015 (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 “Marriage Vote Has All the Characteristics of Merkel’s Success”

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

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from reporters 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.

She added: “All I can say is that we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

Despite the qualifiers — “fully”, “somewhat” — the message was clear. Merkel even lumped the United Kingdom and the United States together with Russia among the countries that Europe must cooperate with “in a spirit of friendship.” Read more “Merkel’s Call Not to Rely on America: Reckless or Prudent?”

Other Conservatives Should Be Wary of Imitating Kurz and May

Sebastian Kurz
Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz takes a phone call at Brussels Airport, Belgium, May 22 (ÖVP)

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.

Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian foreign minister, has been elected leader of the Christian democratic People’s Party because he appeals to voters who might switch to the far right.

Kurz made his name writing an Islam Law for Austria that, among other things, prohibits foreign funding of mosques.

He also took a hard line in last year’s refugee crisis, going behind Europe’s back to do a deal with neighboring Balkan countries to control the influx of people.

Other leaders were dismayed, but Austrian voters seem to approve.

A year ago, the Freedom Party was faraway the country’s most popular with around 32 percent support in the polls. Support for the ruling Social Democrats and People’s Party languished in the low twenties. Now the three are neck and neck. There is a good chance Kurz will be the next chancellor. Read more “Other Conservatives Should Be Wary of Imitating Kurz and May”

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

David Cameron Angela Merkel
British prime minister David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel answer questions from reporters in Berlin, May 29, 2015 (10 Downing Street/Arron Hoare)

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.

38 percent prefer Angela Merkel to stay. Read more “It’s Not You, It’s Us: Germans Ready to Let Merkel Go”