Angela Merkel Looks Secure For Now Despite Coalition Chaos
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives are rallying around her despite the failure of talks to form a three-way ruling coalition, buying her time in office and putting the onus on her Social Democrat rivals to break Germany’s political impasse.
Resolute conservative support for Merkel is significant, as some members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have said privately their price for a re-run of its ‘grand coalition’ with the conservatives would be Merkel’s head.
The collapse late on Sunday of the coalition talks, which followed an inconclusive Sept. 24 election, has plunged Germany into the worst political crisis since the end of World War Two.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is trying to broker a deal, is keenly aware the source of Germany’s international clout is its economic power and that businesses want a stable coalition soon to end the uncertainty and avoid another poll.
SPD leader Martin Schulz, whose party is the second biggest in Germany and was the junior coalition partner to Merkel’s conservative bloc in the last parliament, has insisted the SPD should rebuild in opposition after heavy losses in September.
But with Merkel secure for now at the helm of her Christian Democrats (CDU), the pressure shifts to the SPD to help form a coalition after the failure of the chancellor’s three-way talks with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens.
Surveys suggest going to the polls again would deliver a similar outcome to September’s result. Furthermore, 58 percent of voters want Merkel to remain chancellor, an Infratest Dimap poll for broadcaster ARD showed this week.
While the SPD prevaricates, Merkel looks reasonable for trying to resolve the impasse.
“One thing is clear: Angela Merkel’s position in the CDU is very strong. She is our Number One,” David McAllister, a CDU executive committee member, told Reuters.
Her party believes she did all she could to forge a three-way coalition. Merkel’s efforts also improved ties with the CDU’s Bavarian allies in the conservative bloc, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which had been strained over immigration.
Another senior CDU official said there was no question of sacrificing Merkel as the party had no credible alternative.
A third senior CDU official, Volker Kauder, leader of the conservative parliamentary group in the lower house of parliament, said he hoped the Social Democrats would change their minds about rejecting another grand coalition.