German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been praised lavishly by leftist journalists for her expansive stance on welcoming Muslim migrants in Europe, is now facing the potential end of her political career as she struggles to form a new partnership with the main opposition party.
Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) are meeting this week with Martin Schulz’s Social Democratic Party (SDU) to try to re-create a “grand coalition” in what is being called Merkel’s “last chance” to form a government.
The SPD had dreams of becoming the largest party in Germany after the last round of elections, but performed poorly as voters were critical of the center-left party’s coalition with Merkel’s center-right alliance.
The SPD had its worst showing of the postwar period. But as Merkel has failed to form a government with any of the other parties, she has no other options, and now faces the difficult task of not only winning over her own party but winning over the skeptical SPD grassroots.
The drama is unfolding against the backdrop of surging nationalist sentiment in Germany, as well as new reports showing Merkel’s Muslim migration stance has caused a dramatic increase in crime. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) shocked the German political establishment in the last round of elections, winning over 13 percent of the vote and more than 90 seats in the legislature to become the country’s third largest party.
Merkel has ruled out any cooperation with the AfD. However, this cordon sanitaire may play into the AfD’s hands, as the party has become the sole voice of opposition to the political establishment.
The German government has also given the AfD a new issue to campaign on by forcing through a new “hate speech” law which punishes “illegal” content on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Beatrix von Storch of the AfD was already investigated under the new law for criticizing the Islamization of Germany and the party has declared its intention to file a complaint against the new law.
Other forces are also declaring the law should be scrapped, including The Bild, the country’s best-selling newspaper.
It slammed the “thought police” enabled by the new law and argues it is actually empowering anti-immigrant parties such as the AfD by making them into martyrs.
The beleaguered German establishment is also being rocked by a new report chronicling a dramatic increase in crime in Germany, 92 percent of which can be attributed to the increased number of “refugees” in the country.
Thus, perhaps for the first time in her career, Merkel is facing powerful calls for her time as chancellor to come to an end. Only 30 percent of Germans in a new poll support efforts to try to form a new “grand coalition” between the CDU and SPD, fewer than the 34 percent who want new elections outright. A majority of those polled also said Merkel should not head the CDU in any new election.
If Merkel is unable to come to an agreement with the SPD, Germany will be run by a minority government for the first time in the postwar era. Such a weak government will leave Merkel further besieged, and out-of-step with a German electorate which seems hungry for changes which can’t be delivered by either the center-right or center-left.