Germany falls into a less predictable post-Merkel

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The image of a stable and predictable Germany is cracking: with the nomination this week of the candidates of the Greens, at the gates of power, and of the conservatives, weakened by a war of leaders, an electoral campaign full of uncertainties has begun.

After 16 years in power which marked the country and Europe, Angela Merkel will retire after the September 26 elections. And already the political landscape begins to recompose.

A green chancellor?

It’s just a poll, but it was like a bombshell.

For the first time, the Greens are in the lead, with 28% of the vote, largely ahead of the conservative Union CDU-CSU (21%), according to a survey for RTL-ntv published on Tuesday.

A dynamic seems to have started in favor of the “Grünen” on Monday, with the appointment of Annalena Baerbock, 40, to try to succeed Angela Merkel.

This former trampoline champion, devoid of government experience but fine connoisseur of issues, represents “a new start”, wants to believe the weekly Der Spiegel.

Clearly showing her ambitions, she recently said she wanted to “lead the government” after the election.

By cutting without waving between his two co-presidents, Baerbock and Robert Habeck, the environmentalists taught a lesson in maturity, while the conservatives exposed their ego bickering.

The days of ideological clashes between “realists” and “fundamentalists” within the party once seem over.

Recent successes in the 2019 European elections or in regional elections in March encourage the Greens to put a veil on their differences. At the risk that “the courage to discuss and argue, which has characterized them for decades, is now subordinated to the acquisition of power”, notes the weekly Die Zeit.

The Greens are playing the renewal card. They highlight the examples of Emmanuel Macron or New Zealand Labor Jacinda Ardern, triumphantly re-elected at 40.

The coming weeks promise to be crucial because “the image of Mme Baerbock is in the process of forming itself within the electorate, ”political scientist Thorsten Faas of the Free University of Berlin told AFP.

The Union at half mast

With a still-popular Chancellor Merkel and effective handling of the first months of the pandemic, the path has long seemed to be mapped to another Conservative triumph on September 26.

But weariness after more than a year of restrictions, suspicion of corruption over the purchase of masks and the erosion of power have plunged the union between the CDU and its Bavarian little sister CSU to an “absolutely horrible” level , according to Bild.

The merciless war of leaders between Armin Laschet, the unloved CDU president, and his popular Bavarian rival Markus Söder, has weakened the German right a little more.

The conservatives ended up lining up behind Mr. Laschet on Tuesday, but this designation with forceps, against the opinion of the majority of supporters, will leave traces. Disgruntled activists have thus returned their party cards in several regions.

Mr. Söder, the “candidate of hearts” according to his relatives, assured to keep “no grudge” but his greeting on Tuesday to CDU deputies “courageous (…) young, modern” who supported his candidacy makes it possible to doubt it .

The conservatives will also have to build a program, a challenge after 16 years in power, part of which in coalition with the Social Democrats. Even the “zero deficit” totem pole that characterized them was shattered with the pandemic.

Defend the legacy of Merkel or embody a rupture? “Nobody knows what the conservatives are defending without Merkel as chancellor,” der Spiegel quipped.

The hat of coalitions

For a long time German politics, dominated by the two great Conservative and Social Democratic parties, seemed to purr. The emergence of the far right in the Bundestag in 2017 had already marked a turning point.

The dynamics of the Greens and their possible first place thus make possible in the autumn several coalitions, a decisive choice for the future of Germany.

The Greens can thus build a “green-black” alliance with the conservatives, as is the case in several Länder, or put the bar on the left in a coalition with the social democrats of Olaf Scholz and the liberals, even with the extreme left Die Linke.