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.