Germans ‘crave’ Angela Merkel’s ‘steady hand’ as country braces for period of disruption

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The outgoing German Chancellor’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) suffered a historic defeat at the federal election. Sunday’s vote saw the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), led by Olaf Scholz, emerge as the largest party in the Bundestag. Mr Scholz, the country’s current finance minister and vice chancellor, is seeking to build a three-way coalition.

He has called for talks with the environmentalist Greens alliance and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).

According to political expert John Callahan, Germany will now miss the stability of Mrs Merkel’s leadership.

Mr Callahan is the Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at New England College in the US and has worked for the US State Department and in intelligence.

He told “I think that through her pragmatism she has brought a steady hand to the German government. 

He said Mrs Merkel’s approach is “something that they really crave – well we all crave it, but the Germans in particular.”

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After 16 years of Mrs Merkel, the CDU had chosen Armin Laschet to succeed her as Chancellor.

But the conservatives took just 24.1 percent of the vote at the election compared to the SPD’s 25.7 percent and are unlikely to be able to govern.

Despite the disappointing results, Mr Laschet has said that he will still pursue talks to form a government with the Greens and FDP.

However, several of his own senior politicians have poured cold water on his attempt at a coalition, saying that the CDU must “accept the result”.

Mr Scholz is now widely tipped as Germany’s new chancellor, however, talks between the different parties to form a new government could last for months.

Mr Callahan said that there could now be a period of disruption for Germany if there is a Greens-SPD coalition.

He said: “Would it be the level of disruption of Trump arrival or Boris Johnson arrival? I think no.

“These folks only hue a few points to the right or left of a common line, so would it be a significant international disruption? Probably not.

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“But some significant adjustments? Oh definitely, particularly if there’s a coalition with the Greens on top.”

One of the defining features of Mrs Merkel’s four successive administrations has been her role within the EU.

The outgoing chancellor has been credited with helping to shape the bloc’s policy and steering Europe through the migration and financial crises.

Mr Scholz and Greens leader Annalena Baerbock are both pro EU, and according to Mr Callahan are “not really” different in their approach to Brussels.

Speaking about the FDP, SPD, CDU and the Greens, he said: “I think we’re talking about degrees off the centre in terms of their approach.

“Those four parties are all pro-Europe, they’re all strong believers in Germany’s place in Europe.

“Let’s face it, Berlin is Europe, and it’s been headed that way for a long time, and the UK’s departure from Europe in some ways hastened that.

“In particular, the way that it was a counterbalance to Berlin. Whether Paris is a good counterbalance, that’s a different debate.”
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