Politics is dominated in the UK at this time of year by party conferences, but in Germany last weekend saw a general election and a fourth victory for Angela Merkel, albeit with a reduced majority. MHP’s Frankfurt office watched the results closely and here Christian Pickel offers his interpretation of what it means in Germany and beyond.
The long awaited German elections are through. Not with the results one expected though. Granted, Angela Merkel or Mutti as many Germans call her, made it into her fourth term, but really, not as expected. Both leading parties scored historically low results and lost combined millions of voters to the new and much-feared kid on the block, the right wing AfD (Alternative for Germany).
As an immediate reaction to the worst defeat in the party’s history, the Social Democrats announced their intention to go into opposition. Merkel herself put on a brave face despite the worst party election results since 1948.
She said she “had wanted a better result”, but her CDU/CSU Party “remained the strongest force”. At the same time, leaders of the AfD also chose strident and menacing words to celebrate their highest ever results: “We will start to hunt Merkel”.
We are where we are. Merkel starts this week weaker than before, despite having won the elections, Theresa May will be able to relate to that.
Frau Merkel will need to form a coalition, a hard task ahead of her. But she will remain calm and get the job done. Why? Because Europe needs her, maybe more than ever. And she, despite where we are with Brexit, needs to think British and just muddle through.
Europe, and maybe even beyond, needs political stability and sensibility. And that is what she offers, much more so than her counterpart in the USA.
We are in so many ways at crossroads in Europe; Brexit negotiations, US tensions, North Korea tensions, immigration and the refugee crisis. Whatever happens, Merkel is the sensible choice to help sail that ship called Europe into calmer waters. Only that she now also faces a storm from within her own country, but in true British style, she will muddle through.