Is the collapse of German coalition talks the end for Angela Merkel?
Denis MacShane, former minister of Europe and now a senior advisor at Avisa Partners, says YES.
Two years ago, I wrote an op-ed arguing that Angela Merkel was taking a huge risk in going on and on and seeking a fourth term like the previous CDU Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, whose last years in office were a disaster.
Feted globally, especially by those who take part in Davos and other similar gatherings of world elites, Merkel has lost touch with her fellow Germans.
Dieselgate, the abrupt turn from nuclear and coal to unproven wind power, and above all the decision to open German borders to a million or more Arab Muslims fleeing the destroyed states in the Middle East, have shown an idiosyncratic, personalised form of rule.
Germany needs a renewal of its infrastructure. It needs policy for the left-behinds in the old industrial east. And most importantly it needs a twenty-first century generation of leaders of the main parties to tackle the threat of the extreme right, which now has nearly 100 seats in the Bundestag.
Beatrice Faleri, an economist and freelance writer, says NO.
After the failure of coalition talks in Germany, Angela Merkel is weaker than ever, but the end of her leadership will not come soon.
The Christian Democrats’ internal politics and traditional loyalty make her position watertight. After the talks, she was endorsed by most of her party’s prominent figures – including one of her few potential successors, Jens Spahn.
Merkel built her leadership on the downfall of her predecessor, Helmut Kohl, and has carefully navigated party politics so as not to let her position be undermined. It helps that, since the election, debates on the party’s future and the responsibility for the loss of vote share have been silenced relatively successfully.
But even if her grip on the party was not so stable, there would be little to gain in substituting her. There is no guarantee that, in fresh elections, a new leader would recapture votes on the right, while maintaining those gained by Merkel on the centre-left. Her approval ratings are still highest among the moderates than any other prominent Christian Democrat.
If Merkel goes, it’s hard to see anyone who could replace her.