Merkel’s power base is crumbling

Chancellor Merkel and her CDU used to set the tone in the EU. Nothing worked against the German Christian Democrats in Brussels. But Merkel’s power base is crumbling – also in the European Parliament. The regional elections confirm the trend.

Of course, these were only regional elections. And against a special background – the CDU’s mask and corruption scandals. Nevertheless, what happened in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate is significant.

In its two home states, Chancellor Merkel’s party has slipped. Never before has the CDU achieved such a bad result as in Baden-Württemberg. “It burns” , comments the “Spiegel” on the bankruptcy.

But it’s not just burning in two states – it’s also burning in the federal government. First Merkel’s desired successor – Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer – threw in the towel. Since then, Merkel no longer has control over the CDU.

Then Markus Söder of the CSU established himself as a potential candidate for chancellor. This has shaken the established order among the Christian Democrats. The new CDU leader Armin Laschet is no longer automatically number one.

Most recently, the CDU’s hegemony in the conservative European People’s Party has also been shaken. For years, Merkel and her party friends had protected the Hungarian head of government Viktor Orban and his Fidesz.

But the European sister parties no longer wanted to go along with this. In the end, the CDU was put on the defensive and Orban avoided the threat of expulsion. That, too, was a defeat for Merkel.

Her system of power, which she had built up in the Länder, in the federal government and in the EU, is crumbling. Her authority is also fading – because of the miserable management of the Corona vaccines at EU level and because of the German lockdown.

It is still unclear what this means for European policy. Will Merkel’s party colleague Ursula von der Leyen now also be weakened – or can she finally swim free of Berlin? Will France’s head of state Emmanuel Macron take the helm?

Will the electoral success of the Greens in two German states put the EU even more on the climate track – or will right-wing conservatives and nationalists push into the vacuum left by Merkel in Brussels? It is still too early to judge.

They were only regional elections. But there is also rumbling in the European Parliament, Orban senses his chance…

Translated with (free version) The original post (in German) is here