Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Will Merkel survive Thursday's vote?

Der Spiegel is not alone in becoming rather doubtful.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a difficult test on Thursday as parliament considers a bill to broaden the euro backstop fund. Several lawmakers within her Christian Democrats are threatening to revolt, which could accelerate the demise of a coalition that may already be fatally fractured.
The article is well worth reading in full as it traces the sorry history of Merkel's Chancellorship and the ill-fated (or, at least, not very well fated) coalitions that she has been heading.

Merkel is having trouble making her events successful at the moment. This also applies to a recent meeting at the Chancellery with the leaders of the opposition.

In that meeting, Transportation Minister Ramsauer proved to be more rebellious than the opposition. He even took Finance Minister Schäuble to task. He asked what sort of an agreement Schäuble had negotiated at the European level over the euro rescue fund, pointing out that Germany had received no guarantees that it would ever get its money back.

This prompted a member of the opposition to pointedly ask what exactly Ramsauer's role was in the meeting. Was he there as a minister in Merkel's cabinet or as the vice-chairman of the CSU, which is consistently suspected of serving as an internal opposition? Even Merkel didn't seem quite sure how to respond. "We don't know that either," she mumbled.

The boundaries between the government and the opposition are becoming oddly blurred in these critical days and weeks in Berlin. When a chancellor is no longer able to cobble together his or her own majority, it marks the beginning of the end of a chancellorship. It was the reason Schröder twice linked a vote to a motion of confidence in his chancellorship. Once it was a question of war and peace in Afghanistan, when Schröder's SPD/Green Party coalition was about as unenthusiastic about the war as the current center-right coalition is about the euro.
That remains an option; it is one that has been put into practice by various politicians, notably by Prime Minister John Major in 1993 when, at the end of the Maastricht debates, the government was defeated over the Social Chapter.

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