Is the end of Angela Merkel's era near?
A sudden turn in the domestic political life of Germany happened on Monday. The Free Democrats party, led by young and charismatic leader Christian Lindner, announced that it will no longer participate in negotiations aimed at forming coalition with the CDU/CSU and the Greens, effectively declaring that these negotiations have failed.
"After weeks of negotiations we have a paper on our table that is full of contradictions, unresolved issues and conflicts," he said. According to Lindner, it's better "not to rule at all than rule badly." This way a man whose party demonstrated an unexpected success and gained almost 11% in the last elections refused to participate in the creation of a ruling coalition, if it will go against party's goals and ideas.
Based on the information that appeared in the press over the past weeks, parties couldn't agree on climate policy and refugees. At the same time, the CDU/CSU and the FDP have pretty similar views on many key issues, and it seems that finding a common ground with the Greens turned out to be much more difficult.
Perhaps Christian Lindner's move will please many ordinary citizens, who got tired of the fact that coalition talks are taking so much time. Many people are bewildered by the fact that parties with initially incompatible views and ideologies are trying to form a coalition government at any cost. Many Germans think that a thirst for power is what drives them. By being the first to refuse to participate in unpromising negotiations, Lindner put his party's ideals over the desire for power, thus morally putting himself above other participants in yesterday's coalition talks. Perhaps he planned all this, thinking that new elections are very likely and thus trying to gain votes even before new election campaign has began.
His decision is not only a serious problem for Chancellor Angela Merkel, it may also signal the beginning of an end of her reign in Germany. The problem is that right now the CDU has only two options: announce re-elections or once again try to form "big coalition" with Social Democrats.
New elections would be an unprecedented event, since there have been no such cases in the history of Germany since the end of World War II. In addition, if re-elections will be held, people will begin to question whether Angela Merkel is able to ensure the CDU's success, or, on the contrary, she became a burden for the party. The results of last elections to the Bundestag were the worst in the entire post-war history of the party, which clearly doesn't favor Merkel as the current leader of the CDU. Chancellor's authority in the party has been seriously damaged, and current failure of coalition negotiations will certainly not strengthen her positions. In addition, there are a lot of reasons to believe that new elections will be even more disastrous for the CDU if Merkel will head the party. It may lose even more votes in favor of the far-right "Alternative for Germany." The situation becomes even more complicated by the fact that there's simply no popular and recognizable alternative figure in the party. So new elections are definitely an undesirable scenario for the CDU/CSU and Angela Merkel.
The second possible solution for Merkel is to they to build bridges with the Social Democratic Party of Germany. However, its chairman Martin Schulz already said that his party wouldn't participate in coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel. In other words, the cost of "big coalition" is Merkel's resignation.
Will Angela Merkel, who held the post of Federal Chancellor for the last 12 years, overcome emerging power crisis? The situation may get even worse due to the fact that the more desperate Merkel is, the harder she tries to keep her power, the more tired voters will get from these attempts. Near future will show whether she has a detailed plan "B". However, right now everything indicates that her time at the German political Olympus is slowly but surely coming to an end.