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Germany’s Angela Merkel Wants ‘More Europe’

Can Germany’s “Queen of Austerity” keep the fiscally rapacious EU intact?

by
Mike McNally

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September 25, 2013 - 11:15 pm
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Shutterstock.com)

As Europe, and in particular the eurozone currency union, has lurched from crisis to crisis these past few years, Angela Merkel, German chancellor and de facto leader of the continent, has become fond of insisting that the solution to each new problem is ”more Europe.” And on Sunday the German people voted decisively for more Merkel, ensuring that “more Europe” will continue to be the order of the day.

Merkel’s center-right (by European standards) Christian Democrat Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party won 41.5% of the popular vote, a big increase on the 33.8% they won in 2009. The result was a personal triumph for Merkel, and her reward for guiding Germany through the post-2008 financial crisis relatively unscathed. Despite the scale of her victory, however, things didn’t all go Merkel’s way. The CDU finished just short of an overall majority, and her coalition partners for the past four years, the classical liberal, pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), suffered a devastating defeat, taking just 4.8% of the vote after winning a record 15% in 2009.

Merkel will now enter into coalition negotiations with the left-of-center Social Democrats (SPD), who came second with just over a quarter of the vote. In theory the SPD could join forces with the Left Party and the Greens to form a majority in the German parliament, the Bundestag. However both the SPD and the Greens view the Left Party — which is far enough left to include former members of the East German communist party — as too radical to go into government with. Publicly the SPD is claiming they’ll be no pushovers, but they won’t want to be accused of holding the country to ransom, given the strong showing of Merkel’s CDU and the fragile state of the economy.

The pro-Europe SPD is also well aware that if Merkel is unable to form a government there could be a fresh election. And while there’s no guarantee the SPD would do any better, it could do a lot worse. Despite being officially founded just five months ago, the conservative, anti-eurozone Alternative for Germany party (AfD) picked up 4.7% in Sunday’s vote, just short of the threshold needed to secure representation in parliament. AfD has declared itself the heir to the Free Democrats, and with the FDP having performed so disastrously many of its supporters would likely switch to AfD in a new vote, resulting in a CDU/AfD coalition that would pressure Merkel to pursue a tougher line in dealing with indebted eurozone countries.

So a “grand coalition” of center-right and center-left is the likely outcome. And while at home Merkel will have to throw the SPD a bone or two — perhaps a national minimum wage and tax increases on the rich — there will be no discernible change in policy, either domestically or, more significantly for the rest of Europe, in terms of German policies on the eurozone and wider European Union (EU); Merkel declared that her party’s victory “was a very strong vote for a unified Europe,” and insisted that “on Europe we will not change course.”

From the point of view of the U.S., it’ll be business as usual; while the Obama administration would no doubt have liked to have seen more of a tilt to the left in Germany, America’s prime concern is that nothing threatens Europe’s already painfully slow economic recovery, or the stability of the eurozone and EU; any reversal could tip the U.S. back into recession.

In recent years Merkel has managed to perform a remarkable double balancing act: inflicting punishing austerity on Greece, Spain, and other southern European nations while keeping the eurozone together; and using German taxpayers’ money to keep those countries afloat while increasing her popularity with voters. (The reaction of Greeks to a resounding victory for the “Queen of Austerity” typifies the lack of enthusiasm for Merkel’s re-election in the south.)

A stronger showing from either the right or left would have been bad news for euro-enthusiasts. A more right-wing administration in Berlin would have meant a scaling back in bailouts for southern countries, and made their departure from the eurozone more likely, while a coalition with greater SPD influence would have meant more pressure for a French-style loosening of austerity, with the likely slowdown in growth and rise in unemployment that would have followed; at the moment modest German growth is just about the only thing keeping Europe afloat, and it’s largely due to Merkel’s policies of cutting spending, reforming welfare, and easing regulations on businesses.

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I fear that anyone reading this article will not fully understand the game being played. Merkel does not want Europe any more than does Nigel Farage of England. Farage wants out of the EU and out of the Europe as a supernational political unification, i.e., a superstate. How can that be? Is not such wanting out of Europe being against Europe? NO!!! It is a different Europe. Farage wants a business zone for the European nations, relative to which each nation retains its nationhood and determines its OWN polcies internally through democratic choice. Merkel wants a Europe ever more united, i.e., one in which the nations surrender evermore self-rule to a central and centralizing bureaucracy, whose ruling members are chosen by absolutely no one, except by the bureaucracy itself. Democracy dies! Merkel is stirving towards the creation of the United States (actually provinces) of Europe, relative to which the some 500 million citizens can chose "democratically" (sic!) now and then a superruler and, voilà, that is effectively all. Try to imagine a country with so many citizens having so many different languages seeking to have a "democracy" is an act in self-propaganda that even an expert in propaganda such as Goebbels was could duplicaste. As it stands now Brüssels determines the use of about 80% of each EU state outlay of money, the state legistatives being called upon to simply to determine the specifics. The European Pariliament makes "resolutions" (not laws), relative to which the central bureaucracy makes the effective legislation. The most powerful person in the EU is not Merkel, rather the bureaucract Van Rumpuy (if I have spelled his name correctly). He is a creepy looking Nofratus with all the charm of a crushed cockroach (I am paraphrasing in my words the words of Farage without that charming British accent). Yet, this unelected, unknown, unperson is, along with 16 or so other bureaucratic un-s, the dictating power of the EU. I suggest turning to the internet and looking up Nigel Farage (a British politician whose party is the 3rd most powerful one in England) for all kinds of lectures on the problematic of the EU, including his wisecrack remarks directed directly at Queen Merkel. The article above is fine, but does not even begin to unravel what is going on in the "Old Continent" (relative to whose secularism no less a person than Putin has made an excellent critique). I will suggest an imaginative metacycle of mythic history to encapsulate my theis.

History repeats itself, often enough. After the breakdown of the Roman Empire, Charles the Great (Charlesmagne) re-established a sort of Europen political unit (I do not like the word "state" as that is too modern), a unity of mythic proportions, but one ideally of ONE Europe under ONE ruler (he, not she, being a mixture of legislative, juridical and executive centralization). This ideal remained intact until, in the wake of the Lutheran Revolution, Europe began to break apart into nation states. The 30 Years War (1618-1648) was more than one of religion, rather one of a continuation of the Empire vs. emerging nations, especifically France followed by Spain. (David Goldman has some interesting things to say here in "How Civilizations Die".) The victor of this horrendus war (in which the German population was probably reduced by 1/3) was the evoluton of national states, states waring and waring endlessly. This was one aspect of Europe that the American founders did not like (and one reason that the American king>>President could not declare wars, only Congress --now evaporating under King Obama). There follows a long and complicated history here. In a nutshell, the conflicts between nation states bore the fruit of WW I and, most importantly, WW II >> a watershed harmful for the nationalism necessary for national states. Many Europeans such a Merkel see the nation state as THE source of European waring. The conclusion is: Reduction of the reality of national statehood in favor of various forms of supernational control systems, the goal being a US of E. Not to strive for centralization (reminds you of Obama?) is equated with reintroducing the dynamics of future European wars. It is panic! The current evoluton is away from national self-determination (= democracy) in favor of a centralized bureucratically run the United (Ex)States of Europe. There are countervailing oppositions to the emerging, inchoate superstate here in Germany, e.g., the new AfD (a Farage-like party) with some excellent publications (e.g., "Die Junge Freiheit", at least one nostalgic paper of "Prussian" origins). Well, I will now come to my grand mythic conclusion re the repetition of history (to be continued
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Europe 1 came to be a political unity, more or less, under the founding rule of Charles the Great (Charlesmagne) around 800 AD. This was ideally a single entity, viz., reality, sort of a continuation of the Roman empire with all the centralization of power possible for the time. In this context, the Pope in Rome, representing the prestige of the Roman Empire and hence of divine value, crowned Charles and thereby provided religious certification --> When Napoleon crowned himself as emperor he was rejecting the religiously crowned legitimization of political rule. Europe 2 is coming to be a centralized bureaucary under the current pretender Van Rompuy the Measely. As dazzingly repulsive as the anti-charismatic Van Rumpuy might be, he, or at least his office, is slowly taking on power of technocratic control that Charles the Great could never have imagined. Whereas the Pope imparted ultimate legitimacy to Europe 1, Europe 2 has officially cast religious grounding into the shades to which Greek heroes went. The religious legitimizer, viz., the Pope has been replaced by Lord "Democracy", mythic clothing for the coming nakedness of the dictating technocratic state. Charles the Great is dead! Long live Technocrat the Creep, our next "democratic" emperor.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for this, Mike. Usually MEGO trying to read about German politics, but your article makes sense. Would like to hear more about AfD. Are they regionally based?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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