Merkel risks lead­ing ‘weak coali­tion’

An­a­lysts brand Merkel and the team she’s likely to lead a ‘losers’ coali­tion with lit­tle am­bi­tion or power to tackle the ma­jor chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­try and the con­ti­nent

The Gulf Today - - WORLD -

BERLIN: Ger­many’s vet­eran chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, of­ten called the world’s most pow­er­ful woman, will em­bark on a fourth term with di­min­ished inluence and lit­tle vi­sion for shap­ing Europe’s fu­ture, an­a­lysts say.

Af­ter wrap­ping up more than 24 hours of talks on Fri­day be­tween her con­ser­va­tives and the So­cial Democrats on form­ing a new “grand coali­tion” govern­ment, Merkel in­sisted the pre­lim­i­nary deal would break the dead­lock in Ger­many and pave the way to a “fresh start” for Europe.

But be­fore the ink was even dry on the roadmap for her new ad­min­is­tra­tion, ob­servers branded Merkel and the team she’s likely to lead a “losers” coali­tion with lit­tle am­bi­tion or power to tackle the ma­jor chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­try and the con­ti­nent.

“In fact this ‘grand coali­tion’ is only a mini-coali­tion with just 53 per cent” of seats in par­lia­ment fol­low­ing the Septem­ber elec­tion that saw both par­ties cede mil­lions of vot­ers to the far-right, anti-im­mi­gra­tion AFD party, po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Karl-rudolf Korte of Duis­burg-essen Univer­sity said.

This com­pares with the lav­ish, nearly 80-per cent ma­jor­ity the par­ties en­joyed dur­ing Merkel’s pre­vi­ous term, he told pub­lic broad­caster ZDF.

Merkel in­sisted the ac­cord with the So­cial Democrats, which must still be ap­proved by the party’s rank and ile, would en­sure Ger­many’s en­dur­ing sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity.

“We will work earnestly, to­day and dur­ing the next term, to cre­ate the con­di­tions so that we can also live well in Ger­many in the next 10 years and 15 years,” she told re­porters, lanked by SPD leader Martin Schulz and the head of Bavaria’s Chris­tian So­cial Union, Horst See­hofer.

How­ever, inluential news mag­a­zine Der Spiegel branded the al­liance led by Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, a “pa­leo-coali­tion” of po­lit­i­cal di­nosaurs bereft of fresh blood to pro­pel re­newal.

The deal has also largely left So­cial Demo­cratic Party vot­ers cold, ac­cord­ing to an opin­ion poll pub­lished in Der Spiegel, with just 41.9 per cent in favour. Fully 49.7 per cent took a “neg­a­tive or very neg­a­tive view” of a new tie-up with Merkel’s Chris­tan Democrats.

While France’s young pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron said he was “happy” about progress in end­ing Ger­many’s four-month-long po­lit­i­cal limbo, crit­ics at home sav­aged the tired-look­ing troupe.

“The losers of the Septem­ber elec­tion have come to­gether again and you have to say that this pro­gramme blue­print doesn’t even be­gin to ad­dress the prob­lems in our so­ci­ety,” charged Di­et­mar Bartsch, a lead­ing ig­ure with the far-left Linke op­po­si­tion party.

Ni­cola Beer of the pro-busi­ness Free Democrats said the deal showed lit­tle imag­i­na­tion or “fu­ture-ori­ented prag­ma­tism” and would thus feed dis­il­lu­sion­ment and sup­port “for the ex­treme right and left” of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum.

The 28-page joint pol­icy out­lines in­cluded pledges to join France in a push to “strengthen and re­form” the eu­ro­zone, to limit the in­lux of asy­lum seek­ers to Ger­many to around 200,000 a year, and to re­frain from tax hikes given the healthy state cof­fers.

But the ab­sence of grand new ini­tia­tives led po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Werner Patzelt of Dres­den’s Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute to con­clude that more-of-the-same from Berlin could boost the AFD in par­tic­u­lar.

“It will hand them suc­cess in up­com­ing state elec­tions and they’ll step up calls for Merkel to re­sign,” he said, at­tribut­ing her rel­a­tive weak­ness to the record refugee in­lux in 2015 that un­der­mined her stand­ing with many vot­ers.

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