Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Angela Merkel’s Government Rattled … Again

« German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a meeting of the CDU in Berlin on March 28.
(Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

March 29, 2011 | From
The defeat of the chancellor’s party in Baden-Württemberg is the latest of several blows Germany’s current leadership has sustained.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (cdu), lost control of a pivotal state on Monday in an embarrassing electoral reversal which signals broad disapproval of her leadership.
For almost 60 years, the conservatives have maintained control of Baden-Württemberg, but concern over Japan’s nuclear crisis prompted voters there to provide enough support to the Green Party to give it control of a state government for the first time.
Earlier this month, Merkel abruptly decided to abandon her previous pro-nuclear policy and close down seven of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactor plants, but it was not enough to shift her back into the favor of the Baden-Württemberg populace.
“It’s a deep wound in the history of Baden-Württemberg and also in the history of the cdu,” Merkel told reporters on Monday. “The pain from this loss won’t go away in just one day. We’ll have to work for a long time to overcome the pain from this defeat.”
Germany’s most widely read newspaper, Bild, said the vote results represent a substantial blow for Merkel, “because strength in the southwest of Germany has always been a precondition for national election victories.”
There can be no doubt that the elections in Baden-Württemberg, like those in Hamburg last month, reflect significant changes in the mood of the electorate in Germany.
The Christian Science Monitor pointed out on Monday that “the German vote appears to be shaped more by immediate dynamics: the leaking Japan reactors, the recent resignation of Merkel’s ostensible successor, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who was caught for plagiarizing his doctoral thesis, and Germany’s abstention at the United Nations on the intervention in Libya.”
Stratfor intelligence agency speculates that the Baden-Württemberg election results could also force Merkel to call early elections, and said the impact of such a move could “ripple beyond Germany,” since the country has been crucial in managing the ongoing eurozone crisis.
Germany desires a strong leader in these times of increasing global strife, and, as the Christian Science Monitor points out, Germans are highly susceptible to the immediate happenings of geopolitics. It is a nation that cries out for strong leadership in the midst of times of global turmoil.
As Merkel’s Christian Democrats nurse the wounds they sustained in Baden-Württemberg, we should watch for Germany’s dissatisfaction with its current leadership to intensify. Should Merkel’s coalition disintegrate, the nation will be thirsty for a capable, strong and charismatic leader, and positioned to allow such a man to come into power.