Prominent German politician warns Merkel’s reign coming to close
NOVEMBER 22, 2017
Hans-Christian Ströbele, who helped co-found the party that would become the Greens in the 1980s, said he could not envisage the Chancellor staying in her role for much longer.
Despite her best attempts to secure a fourth term as Chancellor, Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) suffered heavy losses in September’s elections, and she has failed to cobble together a so-called Jamaica alliance with the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP).
Depending on what Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier decides, millions of voters could find themselves going back to the polls next year for a snap election, or he could tell Ms Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader after 12 years in office, to seek further coalition talks.
Angela Merkel cannot survive for much longer, according to Hans-Christian Strobele
There is also the option of forming a minority government, sonething Ms Merkel herself has said she would rather not do.
Mr Ströbele said, whatever the outcome, he does not think Mrs Merkel will be presiding over the Bundestag for long.
In an interview with Swiss website Watson, he said: “The end of the chancellorship of Angela Merkel has already been announced by the outcome of the general election.
“Now Merkel’s political end can indeed come very quickly. In my opinion, Mrs Merkel will not be able to stay at the top of the government for much longer.”
The veteran politcian said his personal preference to solve the current crisis would be for the CDU to form a minority government, calling it “good for democracy”.
He said: “It offers the opportunity to strengthen the importance of the parliament and the individual members of parliament – and with it also democracy.
“It is basically good for democracy, if a government has to seek majorities through persuasion in Parliament.”
Mr Strobele said he would personally prefer a minority government to fresh elections
But he refuted the claim such a scenario would strengthen the hand of Alternative for Germany, which has become the first far-right party to enter the Bundestag since World War 2.
Mr Ströbele said: “That does not mean strengthening the AfD.
“For example, war deployment: The Union gets its majorities by getting the votes of the SPD and FDP on top of its own votes.
“When it comes to social or environmental issues, the government then resorts to the Greens. In any case, it would be the right way to counter the AfD by having transparent, honest policies.”
Mr Ströbele said he “did not regret” the failure of coalition talks between his party, the CDU and the FDP, and branded the idea a “problematic alliance”.
But he said the parties had reached agreements on a number of topics that proved the CDU could form a minority government and still push liegislation through parliament.
Mr Ströbele said: “The Jamaican soundings have shown that there is consensus between the four parties on a number of points.
“So, thanks to this majority, the government is already able to act. Regarding controversial points they will then have to fight for majorities.
“I do not say that a minority government would be ideal – but at least temporarily, it can make politics more transparent to the electorate and show that they take people’s concerns seriously.”
It comes as two veteran allies of Mrs Merkel appealed to Germany’s parties to strike a compromise and form a stable government that could drag Europe’s biggest economy out of a political impasse.
There are wider implications too for Europe since the collapse of talks means the euro zone’s ambitious plans for deeper economic integration could now be put on hold, euro zone officials said in Brussels.
Mrs Merkel’s former finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, now in the impartial role of parliamentary president, said compromise was the order of the day while chancellery chief Peter Altmaier gave parties three weeks to sort out the mess.
And Mr Altmaier, also acting finance minister, told ZDF television: “We must be in a situation in the next three weeks where there is clarity about whether there can be a stable government on the basis of this election result.”