Angela Merkel: Down, and Soon Out
After another disastrous showing in local elections, German chancellor Angela Merkel will step down as the leader of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union, and not seek re-election as chancellor.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Monday that she would not seek re-election when her term expires in 2021. Merkel, who has been Chancellor since 2005, made the announcement during a news conference today in Berlin. "It is time today for me to start a new chapter," Merkel told reporters in Berlin."This fourth term is my last term as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. In the next Bundestag election in 2021, I will not run again as Chancellor. I will not run for the German Bundestag any more, and I do not want any other political office." Merkel told reporters that being Chancellor has been a "very challenging and fulfilling task."
Over the past three years I’ve received many calls from the British media asking me whether Angela Merkel had finally received a knockout blow. And I’ve always replied: she’s down but not out. Now, however, she’s down and out. Her party’s top brass have forced her to announce that she won’t be running for the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at their conference in December. At the time of writing, she wants to remain chancellor. But by this time next year at the very latest, she’ll be out of that job, too.In the general election in September 2017 Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister the CSU (referred to collectively as “the Union”) lost 8.6% compared with 2013. The Union’s losses were equivalent to the gains of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Many inside the CDU called for the party to revert to a more conservative profile. But Merkel did the opposite, attempting to cobble together a “Jamaica” coalition with the Greens and the liberals of the Free Democratic Party (FDP). When the FDP walked out of the talks, Merkel had to continue the “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats (SPD), which neither side really wanted. Since then, the Union and the SPD have been haemorrhaging votes, while the AfD have managed to gain seats in all 16 regional parliaments as well as the Bundestag.With the country moving to the right, the remedy seems simple: the Union has to follow. But in regional elections in Bavaria earlier this month, the CSU, which had tried just that, were clobbered, too. People who have abandoned the Union for the far right are not going to be won back easily. On the other hand, young people are voting for the Greens, whereas the AfD is still a party of disgruntled old white men. So if the Union moves so far to the right that a coalition with the ascendant Greens becomes impossible, Merkel’s successor might find him or herself in a situation where the only viable option is an alliance with the AfD.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.