Merkel’s meandering path through crises leaves Germany lost

Merkel’s meandering path through crises leaves Germany lost, by Roger Boyles.

The meltdown in Berlin is about more than Merkel’s future. It is about the governability of Germany. A constitutional order installed after the defeat of Hitler to ensure a stable political centre and the stifling of dangerous populist movements is turning out to be ill-equipped for the modern world. …

The great hope that accompanied the election of Mrs Merkel in 2005 was that she would usher Germany into the modern world in a non-threatening, non-Thatcherite way. Instead, without a guiding idea, her various coalition governments have been about crisis management …

Since her political convictions were never laid out clearly, she felt free to steal the political clothes of her various coalition partners, the Free Democrats and the Social Democrats, claiming them as her own. She even dressed herself up as a Green by suddenly renouncing nuclear power after the Fukushima accident in 2011, thus keeping options open for a future alliance with the party. …

The AfD notched up an extraordinary 12.6 per cent of the national vote in the autumn election, and are likely to better that in new elections, because of the Merkel government’s failure to control the borders. … On the other side of the political spectrum, the Linke, a leftist anti-austerity grouping, won 9.2 per cent of the vote.

Both parties have been ruled out as too extreme to be part of a Merkel government: that is, some 22 per cent of the electorate has been left out in the cold. Yet their views do address some anxieties felt by ordinary Germans, the frustration with the fudge of the quarter of a century since unification. When people complain about the global business elite and the featherbedding of the banks, they’re not crying out for revolution. They want companies to start building trust with consumers. The diesel emissions scandal covered up by Volkswagen was a big blow to national self-esteem, to the Made in Germany brand, but it did not trigger a Merkel crackdown on corporate accountability. …

Merkel’s authority will dribble away in the interregnum. As the master of damage control she now has to realise that she herself is damaged goods.

hat-tip Stephen Neil