Artisan Canvas Header Background
Artisan Canvas
Your reply has been posted successfully!

Germany at a Crossroads

10 February 2020   |  

With stereotypical German efficiency, Chancellor Angela Merkel lined up her presumptive heir, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, two years ago. But Merkel’s plan fell apart on 10 February when Kramp-Karrenbauer relinquished her post a as head of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and said she would not run for Chancellor in the 2021 national election.

The catalyst for this sudden turn of events was an election in the east German state of Thuringa. In a House of Cards-style political maneuver to prevent a far-left party candidate from becoming state premier, the CDU came to an agreement with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party to elect a candidate from the center-right Free Democrat Party (FDP)—yes, fairly convoluted and Machiavellian. Merkel deemed the decision as “unforgiveable.”

Such fiascos are never good, but this is occurring at a pivotal moment for Germany and the EU. Weakness in German manufacturing is raising recession fears at home and is bad news for an already sluggish EU economy. The emergence of the coronavirus will likely add to the economic woes as it shuts down global manufacturing supply chains and threatens domestic activity as cases emerge across Europe. 

While Germany’s economy is less than 5% of global GDP, the country punches above its weight because it’s a powerhouse within the EU. Germany accounts for 25% of the post-Brexit EU economy, pulled off a solid economic recovery after the global financial crisis and has held strong to its economic polices—for better or worse, depending on who you ask. As a result, Germany is the EU’s de facto leader, even if its history still has Germans feeling uneasy with such a role.

That’s why the political outcome in Germany matters. The country’s political direction will likely influence and be influenced by a host of pressing issues:

Germany’s political landscape is also shifting. The grand coalition between Merkel’s CDU, its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) no longer seems feasible. The SPD has lost ground to the Green Party (Grüne). Meanwhile, the CDU/CSU union is facing pressure on the right. The AfD is currently the third largest party in Germany’s parliament.  

Will the rise of the AfD pull the CDU/CSU union further to the right, or will the possibility of forming a new coalition—perhaps the Greens and/or FDP—allow the party to stay closer to Merkel’s centrist position? Whoever emerges as the next leader of the CDU, it will provide an indication as to Germany’s political direction heading into the 2021 election—as well as influence what issues dominate the next election and the reactions of other German political parties.

  • News

Contact the Editorial Staff

Have a question or comment? We welcome your feedback. Comments will not be made public, but will be read by a member of our editorial staff.