Merkel Wins Personal Victory But Loses Ally

German chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday won a resounding victory for her ruling Christian Democrat parties while her liberal allies failed to reenter parliament. The result might yet force the woman leading Europe’s largest economy into a government with one of her socialist rivals.

Partial election results shown on German television Sunday night put Merkel’s conservative parties at 42 percent — their strongest performance since 1990, the year of Germany’s reunification, but just a handful of seats short of an absolute majority in the Bundestag, the lower chamber of parliament.

Merkel’s liberal coalition partners were stuck at 4.7 percent in the polls, however, while a new Euroskeptic party, Alternative für Deutschland, similarly hovered just below the 5 percent election threshold.

“This is a super result,” Merkel told cheering supporters in Berlin. “Together, we will do all we can to make the next four years successful ones for Germany.”

Weekly Der Spiegel attributed Merkel’s success to her “presidential style of government” which has inspired trust among German voters. Even if they aren’t sure what the risk averse chancellor stands for, many Germans feel the country is in good hands.

The liberal Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung similarly argued that Merkel’s prestige gave her Christian Democrats such a big win. “The outcome is an endorsement of her policies as well as her political style.”

Which is simultaneously the “dark side” of Merkel’s success, wrote Heribert Prantl in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The conservative party now “consists of almost nothing but her.” Read more “Merkel Wins Personal Victory But Loses Ally”

In German Election, Merkel Is the Safest Choice

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel meets with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2012 (EPP)

Polls predict that German chancellor Angela Merkel will cruise to a comfortable victory in this week’s parliamentary elections. We would welcome her reelection.

Although the liberal Free Democrats, who emphasize economic freedom and individual responsibility, are more aligned with the Atlantic Sentinel‘s views, their leader, economy minister Philipp Rösler, looks unfit for the chancellorship. Merkel, by contrast, has proven herself to be a wise leader since she first assumed office in 2005 — sometimes pragmatic, otherwise steadfast. Read more “In German Election, Merkel Is the Safest Choice”

Bavarian Win at Liberals’ Expense Should Alarm Merkel

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative allies in Bavaria won back control of the regional legislature on Sunday but their liberal coalition party’s failure to reenter parliament doesn’t bode well for the right’s electoral chances nationwide.

The Christlich-Soziale Union, a sister party of Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats, won 49 percent support according to projections from ARD and ZDF television. Party leader and Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer hailed the outcome as “a great election success” in a speech to supporters in Munich. “With this, the year 2008 is history,” he said.

Five years ago, the Bavarian party scored its worst result in six decades with 43 percent. Seehofer was forced into a coalition with the liberal Free Democrats who are also Merkel’s partners at the national level. Read more “Bavarian Win at Liberals’ Expense Should Alarm Merkel”

Merkel Appeals to German Voters to Stay the Course

Germany’s conservative chancellor Angela Merkel urged voters on Sunday night to stay the course. “We have had four good years for Germany and I believe the next four years will be good as well,” she said at the end of a televised debate with the Social Democratic Party leader Peer Steinbrück.

Steinbrück, who is trailing badly in opinion polls, confronted the incumbent over an imminent third bailout program for Greece, which would be deeply unpopular in Germany. Merkel refused to discuss specifics, saying “as chancellor” she had a responsibility to keep the pressure on Greece to enact necessary economic and fiscal reforms. The promise of another bailout might alleviate that pressure. Rather than discussing more financial aid for profligate member states or eurobonds — the pooling of sovereign debt in the eurozone; unacceptable to most Germans — “everyone must take his own responsibility,” she said. Read more “Merkel Appeals to German Voters to Stay the Course”

Merkel Takes Risk by Suggesting Role in Syria

Chancellor Angela Merkel is taking a political risk when she hints at German support for a military intervention in Syria. German voters are notoriously pacifist and see little reason why they should be drawn into another country’s civil war.

While 60 percent of Germans polled by Stern magazine last year opposed foreign intervention in Syria altogether, Merkel’s government backed an international response to allegations of chemical weapons use there on Monday, saying, “The alleged widespread use of gas has broken a taboo. It requires consequences.” Read more “Merkel Takes Risk by Suggesting Role in Syria”

German Social Democrats Shun Both Conservatives, Far Left

German opposition leader Peer Steinbrück said on Sunday that he would not enter into a “grand coalition” with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives as the junior party, raising the possibility of a right-wing victory in September’s election.

Steinbrück, who was Merkel’s finance minister in the last such grand coalition between 2005 and 2009, told ZDF television that a government of Christian and Social Democrats was unlikely. “We all know what happened last time around,” he said, referring to support for his party plunging to 23 percent in the 2009 election from 34 percent in 2005. Read more “German Social Democrats Shun Both Conservatives, Far Left”

Germany’s Merkel Warns Against Far-Left Coalition

German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday she would like to continue her ruling coalition with the liberal party after elections in the fall and warned that the alternative might be an entirely left-wing government.

In an interview with ARD television, the conservative leader, who has been in power since 2005, said she was “convinced” her Free Democrat coalition partners would cross the 5-percent threshold in September’s election and stay in coalition with the Christian Democrats. Recent surveys put the liberals’ support at just 5 percent. Read more “Germany’s Merkel Warns Against Far-Left Coalition”

German Finance Minister Rules Out “Grand Coalition” After Election

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble ruled out a coalition between his conservative party and the Social Democrats after September’s election in an interview with Der Spiegel that will be published on Monday, expressing confidence that its alliance with the right-wing liberals will maintain a majority in the lower chamber of parliament.

Although most opinion polls suggest that the liberals will struggle to cross the 5 percent election threshold in the fall, Schäuble warned right-wing voters that his party “won’t form a coalition with anyone” else. “If the right doesn’t win a majority,” he added, the Social Democrats and Green party should “repeat what they did in North Rhine-Westphalia,” Germany’s most populous state where the two left-wing parties fell short of a legislative majority in a state election three years ago but were able to form a government with the backing of the far-left Die Linke. Read more “German Finance Minister Rules Out “Grand Coalition” After Election”

Seeking to Broaden Coalition, German Greens Lurch Left

German Green party members on Sunday defied warnings from their more pragmatic leaders in backing two sharp tax increase proposals, a move that could alienate centrist voters but raise the prospect that a left-wing government can be formed after September’s federal election.

Some eight hundred party delegates gathered in Berlin defied their most successful leader, Baden-Württemberg state premier Winfried Kretschmann, to support a top income tax raise from 42 to 49 percent as well as the introduction of a 1.5 percent wealth tax on assets over €1 million.

Kretschmann had argued in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung that was published on Friday that the combination of the proposed tax hikes would impose an “unreasonable burden” on especially middle income families. He also cautioned his party against ruling out a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives whom, he agued, “aren’t that far removed” from the Greens. Read more “Seeking to Broaden Coalition, German Greens Lurch Left”

German Conservatives Regard Euroskeptics Warily

Germany’s ruling party takes “seriously” competition from an upstart Euroskeptic party, its parliamentary leader said on Thursday, but has seemingly little reason to, given German voters’ overwhelming support for incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel.

Volker Kauder, the chairman of the Christian Democrat delegation in the Bundestag, told Die Welt newspaper that he respects opposition from Alternative für Deutschland, a party founded by academics and economists who advocate a German withdrawal from the European single currency, but argued that it “must offer more than a return to the D-Mark.”

The euro, according to Kauder, “will help Europe stay together” while an exit from the eurozone would jeopardize German exports and “thousands of jobs.” Read more “German Conservatives Regard Euroskeptics Warily”