Wednesday, 20 Oct 2021

How Angela Merkel failed in final job as German Chancellor as replacement poised to quit

Angela Merkel heckled during speech in German Bundestag

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Last month, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) suffered a crushing blow in Germany’s election, seeing the party deliver its worst result in some 50 years. Now, as the CDU faces being ousted all together by parties jostling for a seat at the top table and Armin Laschet poised to resign, some have blamed Ms Merkel for the state the party now finds itself.

While Ms Merkel will go down in history as a successful European leader, for her party and supporters, she has failed at the finish line.

Any senior politician has a duty and task to ensure their party remains in power, and here, Ms Merkel dropped the ball, some experts have claimed.

The recent election should have seen CDU candidate Armin Laschet take over and continue the Merkel-era.

Instead, the Social Democrats (SPD) Olaf Scholz looks sure to be the new chancellor, and some within the CDU are pointing fingers at the incumbent ruler.

Christoph Ploss, a CDU MP and head of the party’s Hamburg branch, said: “The CDU is at a low point in its history, and of course people will ask to what extent Merkel, among other reasons, contributed to this,

“She was, after all, our party’s leader for 18 years.”

And one conservative backbencher was less forgiving: “She really neglected the party for years.

“Look at the state she’s left it in. That’s part of her legacy.”

The election saw the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union, take just 24.1 percent of the vote — nearly nine percentage points down from 2017.

The disastrous result means the CDU might not even have a seat at the table in a coalition.

The election was narrowly won by the SPD with 25.7 percent, and the party has now started talks with the Greens and liberal Free Democrats (FDP) on forming Germany’s first three-party coalition government since the 1950s.

Mr Laschet said the CDU was “also ready for further talks”, but calls for his resignation are gathering steam, with rumours suggesting he could do so as early as this week.

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Mr Laschet’s support has been ebbing away but he has refused to abandon hope of a conservative-led coalition.

He told reporters it was not about personalities – it was about the national interest.

Although he did not say outright that he would resign, he was earlier quoted as telling his CDU party’s MPs he would be happy to “if it works out better with other people”.

In his statement, he said he still believed in a conservative-led government with the Greens and liberals, and his party would watch closely how the current coalition talks worked out.

However, an opinion poll last week suggested that 53 percent of Germans backed an SPD-led coalition of the three parties, while only a quarter supported a conservative-run government.

Greens leader Annalena Baerbock told reporters that Germany needed “a new beginning” and could ill afford a long period of political stalemate.

And the head of the FDP, Christian Lindner, announced the party had accepted a proposal for three-way talks with the Greens and the SPD to “explore common ground that will move our country forward”.

He emphasised that the liberals would only join a party that “strengthens the value of freedom”.

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