The long era of Angela Merkel's chancellorship will draw to an end in 2021, leaving a series of major question marks, some of which hang over not only Germany's destiny, but also that of Europe. On 26 September, Germans will head back to the polls, but it will be the first time an incumbent chancellor, at the height of her popularity, is not throwing her hat back into the ring. Merkel's exit could very well leave her party, and the country as a whole, in a sort of horror vacui. The election results will also have inevitable repercussions for the balance in Europe.
The future of the engine of Europe, Germany, will depend largely on who drives it. Frau Merkel’s successor at the head of the CDU will have a major impact on Europe as a whole.
Germany is China’s most important economic partner in the EU and China is Germany’s most important economic partner in Asia. Germany therefore has relied on a negotiation- and discussion-based approach in its relations with China following the principle “change through trade” (Wandel durch Handel). While other western powers, such as the United States, already took a tougher stance vis-à-vis China on past occasions, Germany regarded it more as a partner than a competitor. However, things have changed in recent years.
For further analysis on this by the DGAP, see here
On the 3rd of July the two German Christian democratic parties, the Christian Democratic Union, CDU, and the Christian Social Union, CSU, presented their common electoral manifesto for the federal election that will take place on 24th of September 2017. The document is titled “For a Germany that is good to live in” (Für ein Deutschland, in dem wir gut und gerne leben). The CSU added a “Plan for Bavaria” (Bayernplan) that is not considered in this paper.
Although 56 per cent of Turkish public opinion does not support Turkish foreign policy regarding Syria, due to the way Turkish government managed the human crisis (and spent its money), the population agrees on the necessity on persisting to solve this problematic situation. And thus does Europe. Following the Summit of EU leaders on October 15th, German Chancellor Angela Merkel took an emergency trip to Turkey, where she needed to recruit the Turkish side to stop the flood.
The trauma of the July bailout
Alexander Lukashenko that hosted the summit in Minsk could barely hide his happiness. He did not take a direct part in the 16-hours long negotiations, but got a precious opportunity to transform his status from the one of “the last European Dictator” into the one of the main European peace-maker with the European leaders paying a visit to him.
Germany has had to rethink its relations with its European partners twice in four years: in 2010, when the sovereign debt crisis hit the euro area - and following the winter of 2013/14, when Ukraine's westward course triggered a conflict with Russia.
Beijing would vote for Angela Merkel in Germany’s upcoming general elections.
Proximity to Germany has some obvious advantages, not least helping Poland withstand the euro-crisis. Yet, it has drawbacks too, and if nothing changes in German European policy after the election, Poland’s may have to. The reason is simple: Poles have benefited from behaviour on the part of the current German government which have been costly to the EU as a whole. Poland is aware of the drawbacks in Germany’s approach and is in a position to offset them.