Merkel Presents Alternative Eurozone Plan, Erdoğan Calls Early Elections

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, March 24, 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

Prime Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer of Saarland attends a session of the Bundesrat in Berlin, Germany, July 10, 2015
Prime Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer of Saarland attends a session of the Bundesrat 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

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

Highlights and Takeaways from the Merkel-Schulz Debate

Angela Merkel Martin Schulz
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, watches as Chancellor Angela Merkel signs a guestbook, November 7, 2012 (European Parliament)

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 “Highlights and Takeaways from the Merkel-Schulz Debate”

Marriage Vote Has All the Characteristics of Merkel’s Success

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

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?

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

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 leaves 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 “Other Conservatives Should Be Wary of Imitating Kurz and May”

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

Let’s Not Read Too Much into Schulzmania Yet

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, gives a speech in Brussels, February 2, 2016
German Social Democratic Party 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 “Let’s Not Read Too Much into Schulzmania Yet”