posted at 9:01 am on November 22, 2016 by Jazz Shaw
Given all the attention we’ve paid to the regional elections in Germany this year and the beating that the Christian Democrats (CDU) have taken there, it may come as a surprise to learn that their titular leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, will be seeking a nearly unprecedented fourth term in office. She made the announcement over the weekend. (Yahoo News)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party Sunday she will seek re-election next year, a move likely to be welcomed in many capitals as a sign of stability following poll triumphs for Brexit and Donald Trump.
After months of feverish speculation, Merkel announced at a meeting with other leaders of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) that she would run for a fourth term, a decision they met with thunderous applause, party sources told AFP.
Merkel, 62, has governed Europe’s top economic power, which does not have term limits, since 2005. She is due to hold a news conference at 1800 GMT Sunday.
I’m not sure why most of the reports I’m seeing all drop in a factoid about Merkel’s age. At 62 years old she’s not exactly a spring chicken but she’s considerably younger than both of the finalists for the presidency in the United States this year. We’ve never heard of any serious medical concerns regarding Merkel and if she wants to run again there’s no reason not to.
Well… almost no reason. While the press report linked above paints a relatively sunny picture of her prospects (including some public approval ratings which have begun to tick back up after cratering earlier this year) it doesn’t seem as if victory is assured. Even Merkel herself admitted that it wouldn’t be “a cakewalk” to win again. The forces of the more “Germany First” oriented Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have been on the rise amid heightened concerns over Islamic migrant problems. While they aren’t scoring knockout victories in regional elections, their share of control combined with the ability to form a coalition with other parties in the Reichstag next year constitutes a real threat to Merkel’s dominance. Even the Washington Post admitted this week that while the populist movement in Germany remains less powerful than in France, Poland and other EU members, they still constitute a force to be reckoned with.
Angela Merkel, Germany’s long-standing conservative leader now considered an unlikely stalwart for liberalism in the West, announced on Sunday that she intended to run again for chancellor in next year’s federal elections. Her coalition of centrist parties is expected to face a considerable challenge from an upstart party, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), that won a number of key victories in local elections last year.
Merkel’s reelection bid also comes as President Obama, a key ally, ends his time in the White House to be replaced by President-elect Donald Trump — an unlikely president seen by many as a key example of an authoritarian populist candidate. Trump’s November election win came after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and ahead of next year’s French election, where the far right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen is widely expected to do well.
There’s a lot of road to cover between now and Germany’s elections and – at least for now – I’d still put my money on Merkel if I had to place a wager. But even if she wins a fourth term she’s going to come out of this a far more dinged up and weakened leader on the home front than she was in the period leading up to the migrant crisis in 2015.