• 07:04
  • 10.07.2020
End of the line for Angela Merkel?

End of the line for Angela Merkel?

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing an unprecedented challenge that could end her political reign after her attempt to form a coalition with two smaller and ideologically diverse parties collapsed.
In the early hours of Monday morning, two months after elections, the pro-business Free Democrats Party (FDP) pulled out of attempts to from a coalition government with Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc and the left-leaning Greens.
FDP leader Christian Lindner said there was “no basis of trust” between the parties, and compromises required on migration, finance and education would have been too much for the party to make.
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To make things worse, Social Democrats Party chairman Martin Schulz also ruled out a return to the “grand coalition” that has seen his centre-left party serve as a junior coalition partner to Merkel’s CDU since 2013.
Schulz said the Social Democrats were “not available” for a new coalition as it was clear it had “got the red card” from voters and he wanted to go into opposition to regroup.
The collapse of talks came less than three weeks Merkel was named Forbes’ Most Powerful Woman in the World for the seventh consecutive year ahead of UK Prime Minister Theresa May and philanthropist Melinda Gates.
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It’s a massive blow for the Chancellor of 12 years who is now acting as a caretaker and must decide whether to try and form a minority government or if new elections should be held.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has the power to call new elections urged all parties to reconsider.
“There would be incomprehension and great concern inside and outside our country, and particularly in our European neighbourhood, if the political forces in the biggest and economically strongest country in Europe of all places didn’t fulfil their responsibility,” he said.
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Germany now faces weeks, if not months, of paralysis with a lame-duck government that is unlikely to take bold policy action at home or on the European stage. With no other viable coalition in sight, there is also the risk that new elections are as inconclusive as September’s poll.
The political chaos comes after Merkel’s deeply divisive refugee policy emboldened anti-immigrant populist parties during the election and left her without a majority on September 24.
In 2015 following Europe’s migrant crisis, the Chancellor decided to open the doors to hundreds of thousands or refugees mainly from Syria and Iraq in a move that fuelled the rise of far-right parties. Whether those refugees should be able to reunite with family members proved a major sticking point in the failed coalition talks.
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Following more than a month of gruelling negotiations, the leader of the pro-business FDP, Christian Lindner, walked out of talks overnight, saying there was no “basis of trust” to forge a government with Merkel’s conservative alliance CDU-CSU and the ecologist Greens.
“It is better not to govern than to govern badly,” he said, adding that the parties did not share “a common vision on modernising” Germany.
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Voicing regret at the FDP’s decision, Merkel vowed to steer Germany through the crisis.
“As chancellor ... I will do everything to ensure that this country comes out well through this difficult time,” she said.
News magazine Der Spiegel called the breakdown in negotiations a “catastrophe” for Merkel and said Germany, long seen as an island of stability, was having its “Brexit moment, its Trump moment”.
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