By Hanif Ghaffari

The chancellor loses her power

February 3, 2018 - 10:15

TEHRAN - The situation remains foggy for Europe right now because Germany, as the prime country that has political and economic dominance, continues to suffer from the lack of an "incumbent government”.

Angela Merkel as the German Chancellor has only focused on her country's internal affairs in recent months, and thus she has virtually lost her previous power in the European Union. Few consider her the “Grand Chancellor” in Germany any longer. According to recent surveys, half of German citizens are demanding Merkel’s resignation. This is the worst time for Merkel ever as a political leader. 

The general elections in Germany were held about four months ago. Since then, the coalition government has not yet been formed. The combined votes of the coalition of Christian parties (Christian Democrats and Social-Christian parties) have not been enough to form an integrated state. The worst news for the two traditional German parties is that, following negotiations, we're now witnessing a remarkable fall in the popularity of both these parties, which now barely exceeds 50 percent. Merkel could be facing a political dead-end in Germany. 

During the coalitional negotiations with the Green Party and Liberal Democrats, we witnessed Merkel’s defeat. Analysts and news sources had predicted that a coalition would be formed between the four negotiating parties in Germany. However, in the end, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Christian Lindner, left the negotiation table, leaving Merkel in a difficult position.

Merkel knows well that the formation of a coalition government with the Social Democrats is the best possible option for her, but this option has never been her favorite. In the event of failed talks with Social Democrats and politicians such as Martin Schulz and Sigmar Gabriel, Merkel will have to form a minimalist government with the Green Party or face an early election. Any of these options will come at a heavy cost. Even if here is an election, the political crisis will likely continue in Germany and public pressure on Merkel to resign will ramp up if negotiations fail. The Social Democrats will then have a greater chance of gaining power.  

According to recent surveys, more Germans believe that Merkel should resign, and few regard her now as a "strong European leader." Even with the formation of a coalition government with the Social Democrats, she's not going to have the clout and power she used to have. Herr best option may be to just resign now, but she is tenacious and hardly wants to be forced to do that. 

Although coalition talks between the Christian parties and the Social Democratic Party over the formation of a coalition government (known as the Great Coalition) are crucial to Merkel, this is not true for the Social-Democratic Party. With about 20 percent of the vote, the Social Democrats have been weakened at the polls, and the failure of negotiations on the Jamaica coalition has once again brought the two traditional parties of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats to the negotiation table. Merkel and the Social-Democrat leaders have already begun the negotiations over the Great Coalition. Re-establishment of a coalition government with Merkel is not a given.

One big question is whether Merkel's "minimal survival" in power can sustain Germany’s leadership in Europe? The answer is probably not, because "minimal survival" differs from "effective survival" in power. A coalition with the Social Democrats does not mean that Merkel will enjoy the power she once had, and this is what worries Germany's European partners. The growth of right-wing extremists in European countries, including in Germany and France, has worried many. In any case, even if the German coalition government is formed, obstacles abound. Merkel’s salad days look to be over.

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