Merkel is finished. Ihre Zeit ist Vorbei. It was fairly obvious after last year’s election that she was a spent force. It took months for a zombie government to be cobbled together, a zombie government in which Merkel threw many shiny bobbles in the general direction of the Social Democrats only for neither of the two parties to be able to agree on much or for any direction, clear or otherwise, to emerge.
This year, two major German states held elections: Bavaria and Hesse. In Bavaria, the Christian Social Union lost their absolute majority for only the second time in generations. In Hesse, both the CDU and SPD saw their share of the vote collapse. As a result, Merkel has announced that she will not seek re-election as the head of the CDU and that she would be standing down at the next federal election.
It’s tempting to feel jubilant. After all, Merkel has done much damage to Germany and to Europe. Her handling of the eurozone crisis was dismal and her migration blunder has caused severe damage that will be felt for generations. Europe is the most divided it has been since the 1940s. North and South despise each other, East and West revile each other. But… Who will lead Germany? Who will be the paramount leader of Europe? That is the hard question. Getting rid of Merkel is one thing, replacing her is something entirely different. There are few figures left in Germany who are capable of filling her shoes. She destroyed many, many self-destructed and others, through attrition, passed their sell-by dates. Little Manny Macaroon has effectively imploded. Toxic Tess is in power only because nobody wants to seize that poisoned chalice from her, Spain, etc. are only bit-players. What now? It’s hard to tell. All indications suggest that we will see more drift than anything for the foreseeable future.
10 thoughts on “The End of an Era”
CD, am I right to compare Mutti’s immigration dèbacle with Maggie’s poll-tax bloomer in the ’80s? An unpalatable error whatever one’s political taste? As for the eurozone, surely its blatant lack of balance has been heavily in Germany’s favour for years – at the expense of the ClubMed economies which continue to struggle, while Germany thrives?
Janus: Yes and no. Thatcher was a conviction politician with a clear ideology and a fixed moral compass. Merkel was always hesitant, the type of politician that would wait until the last second to make a decision and then choose the course that had already clearly emerged to follow. Her one firm decision was to take those Syrians in Hungary seeking refuge. It quickly spun out of control and a few hundred thousand with some reasonable claim to refugee status turned into millions of economic migrants making a mad dash for Europe.
Germany is, in essence, a parasite state. The euro is far weaker than the DM was or would be. This gives Germany a competitive advantage globally. The euro also strips away the great cost advantage that ClubMed economies had — cost. Italian machine and chemical companies cannot compete with the Germans on price, nor can their textile industries compete with Poland or Czechia. Spanish shoemakers cannot compete with the Hungarians or Romanians, nor can SEAT compete with Skoda. Business cycles are always turning. Eventually, the others will have the upper hand. They were very amenable in the early 2000s when Germany and France were struggling — at great expense to themselves. They will not be so amenable next time.
It’s always a problem when one person has held power for a long time – there is no opportunity for others to learn their trade. At least the monarchy tries to train their successors to handle the job – but no one in the political sphere would encourage someone to learn the skills necessary to take over…
Thatcher was indeed a ‘conviction’ politician – and that’s why I loathed her. To follow an ideology with no thought for the consequences has always seemed to me to be the mark of a tyrant rather than someone who was elected to do what is best for the country and its citizens.
I may or may not have related this story elsewhere – forgive me if I have – and stop reading here!
As you may recall at the time of Maggie’s Poll Taxes much was said about the Poll Taxes of the 14th C – which just happens to be my field of expertise. At the time there was a BBC program which looked in depth at historical events that were relevant to modern issues. I contacted them – and asked if they’d like to run an article. They asked me what I would want to say – and I told them – which was basically that even in 1377 and 1379 what Maggie was proposing was seen as patently unfair! I got a polite refusal saying that my views were ‘too controversial’…
It amazes me that so few pollies look at their bright ‘new’ ideas – most of them have been tried before and few with much success.
I blame ‘populism’ – that strange phenomenon when a democratic majority ignorantly votes against the outcome desired by their ‘masters’. It seems to be happening rather a lot these days.
Don the One will probably suffer the same fate.
Janus: He’s likely to be re-elected. The only time in decades that a president’s party has gained seats during a midterm election was in 2002 when Bush was widely popular after 9/11. The Democrats gained a below average number seats in the House, all very marginal, and lost seats in the Senate.
God bless America. I’d be ashamed to salute the flag.
Janus: You are under absolutely no obligation to, so be proud. I have vested interests in the USA and continue to follow events there closely. The left have utterly lost the plot and are utterly terrifying, the right haven’t lost the plot, but they’ve grown just as dogmatic as the left. There’s little left in the centre.
One of my never-to-be-fulfilled-ambitions is to be in a meeting where everyone is told to stand for the ‘Leader of the Free-World’ i.e the President of the US – and to remain seated. It ain’t never going to happen! But I really would like to remind the US that since I had no say in the weird and wonderful way they elect their ‘Leader’ – their Leader is not MY leader.
I know most people here hate Trump – and, maybe, if I knew more I’d hate him too. To me, he stands as a symbol of someone who went out there, spoke to real people and overturned the arrogance of those who thought they knew what was best – and had the right to rule. About time.
But, what I absolutely love is the fact that the arrogant Champagne Socialists (Democrats) who had the audacity to call everyone who disagreed with them ‘Deplorables’ and have no other policy than to call on equally wealthy Champagne-sipping Celebrities to tell the Electorate not to vote for Trump did not succeed in convincing the US electorate to wipe Trump out.
It seems to me that the Democrats need to wake up and understand that the US electorate isn’t a bunch of ignoramuses who will vote according to how Celebrities tell them to vote. And, personally, seeing how some of those Celebrities behave I would be inclined to vote the other way!
I’m sure you are quite right Christopher – the Left have totally lost the Plot and the Right have become more dogmatic.
However, I’m not sure that both the Left and the Right should move to a Centre position – why would I bother to vote (except of course here in Oz I have to) if both parties are advocating the same policies?
Boadicea: The US is strange. There doesn’t always seem to be a middle there. I agree that there needs to be a difference in what parties offer. After all, there is little as life-sapping in politics as both parties adhering so closely to the centre that elections are mere formalities. This is one of the major issues facing both major parties in Germany. Conservatives are increasingly dismayed that their concerns are ignored and those on the left are increasingly frustrated that no one is addressing their concerns. All that means is that increasingly radical parties will gain votes as voters are desperate for someone, anyone to pay attention to them. It is why the AfD and Greens have done so well. In regards to the US, there are things being advocated by the left that are now so leftist that even Cur-bin would shudder including the nationalisation of many private industries. Some members of the Republic Party have seemingly gone back to the 19th century. My great-grandfather told many stories about his native Spain before the Civil War, when he fled. The US reminds me more and more of that.