- What was supposed to be a routine coalition talk to form Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government has turned into a political crisis as talks collapsed, which could trigger another election. [NYT / Melissa Eddy and Katrin Bennhold]
- The big reason behind the breakdown of talks was Merkel’s past stance on immigration, agreeing to take in about 1 million migrants in 2015. Europe’s migrant crisis has become a flashpoint in multiple countries and has turned into a rallying cry for populist and right-wing parties in Germany, France, and Austria. [Reuters / Paul Carrel and Gernot Heller]
- Merkel herself is actually in favor of a new election, saying there’s no clear path forward with the current government. [NPR / Scott Neuman]
- But a snap election comes with a significant risk for Merkel: that her party could lose more seats and she would have to step down as chancellor. [Foreign Policy / Paul Hockenos
BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany faced the greatest crisis of her career on Monday after negotiations to form a new government collapsed, shaking a country that is Europe’s political and economic anchor.
The breakdown abruptly raised the prospect of new elections in Germany. It came less than two months after the last elections seemed to assure that Ms. Merkel, an icon of Western democracy and values, would remain Germany’s leader for a fourth term.
The chancellor said she remained hopeful about forming a majority government. But if forced to choose, Ms. Merkel said, she would prefer to go through new elections rather than try to lead a minority government.
“I don’t want to say never, but I am very skeptical, and believe that new elections would be the better way forward,” the chancellor told the public broadcaster ARD.
At a time when the European Union is facing a host of pressing problems, from Brexit negotiations with Britain, to the rise of right-wing populism, to separatism in Spain’s Catalonia region, the possibility of political instability in a normally reliable Germany sent tremors through the Continent.
So what does this shake-up mean for Germany? After Mrs Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, failed in an attempt to create a three-way coalition with the liberal-right FDP and left-wing Green Party, there are three possibilities.
- Another coalition
- A minority government without the FDP
- Snap elections
— Ulrike E Franke (@RikeFranke) November 21, 2017
What has changed?
On the surface, very little. But in reality everything has. Germany is at a turning point.
Angela Merkel has secured a fourth term, but she knows she has presided over the CDU’s worst electoral performance since 1949.
For the first time since the 1950s, Germany will have six parties in the Bundestag, and the two giants of the political centre are at their lowest ebb.
Where is Germany headed for?
The future of Merkel’s government has been in limbo since elections in September, when her Christian Democrats lost significant support. Along with Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, she’s been trying to forge an alliance with the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). It was the pro-business FDP’s decision to walk out of talks on Sunday that precipitated the latest crisis.
But a new round of voting has sparked concern that Germany’s far right nationalist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), which did surprisingly well in recent elections, could make further inroads.
Deutsche Welle reports:
“If no majority coalition emerges, Steinmeier is bound by the German constitution to nominate a chancellor for approval by the German parliament, the Bundestag. If no stable government can be formed after three rounds of voting there, the president would have to ask Germans to return to the polls.”
AfD’s parliamentary spokesperson Jörg Meuthen welcomed the end of what he called the “Jamaica experiment” amid speculation Germany could face fresh elections as early as next Easter.
He hailed the success of his party in preventing Angela Merkel from easily forming a coalition and said he was looking forward to the prospect of another vote.
Mr Meuthen said: “The end of the Jamaica experiment is good news for our country.
“For now, Germans will be spared a coalition with the Greens, and the Chancellor’s reign should come to an end.”
New elections in Germany on the cards. That means Chancellor #Merkel will be playing hard. She won’t want to tell the German people they’ve got to make up the shortfall in the EU budget post #BREXIT. So she’ll try to squeeze the UK for every penny she can.
— Henry Bolton OBE🇬🇧 (@_HenryBolton) November 20, 2017