Angela Merkel’s coalition
is the subject of The Economist’s Merkel clinches it, but the price is high
In return for allowing Ms Merkel to become chancellor, the SPD is expected to get more policy portfolios than the CDU, including weighty ones such as foreign affairs, finance and the ministry in charge of labour-market reform. The CDU will get the defence and interior portfolios. It is already clear that the CSU’s boss, Edmund Stoiber, will become economics minister. Yet much still needs to be negotiated, including the details of the new government’s reform agenda. Policy talks are likely to last until mid-November.
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This means that Ms Merkel will struggle to implement the main planks of her proposed reform programme: a flat-fee health-care premium to lower non-wage labour costs, further labour-market reforms, such as loosening Germany’s strict protection against dismissal, and radical tax reform. On top of this, Germany’s dismal fiscal situation needs tackling and its federal system needs overhauling.
In foreign policy, too, there won’t be much change, at least as long as the grand coalition holds. Ms Merkel opposes full European Union membership for Turkey but will be blocked from pushing “privileged partnership” as an alternative. It is also unlikely that there will be much of a rebalancing of Germany’s foreign relations to give more priority to transatlantic relations.
The Economist ends in a positive note: “Just as Germany’s economy has recently shown signs of strength, the country’s politics might just spring some positive surprises as well.”
While the DW Newscast was predicting a weakening of the France-Germany-Russia axis and closer relations with the USA following Merkel’s win, Victor Davis Hanson two weeks ago predicted that Today’s Euro-USA Split Will Persist
Careful reading of American history does not suggest a natural U.S. partnership with Europe. Rather, our past shows frequent antipathy, punctuated several times by violent hostilities: most recently in 1898, 1914, and 1941. Apart from the special British American companionship, solidarity between the U.S. and continental Europe was more likely a Cold War exception, not the rule. For 50 years the United States stayed engaged with Europe specifically to ensure that intercontinental squabbles would never again devour American blood. The Soviet Union served as a sort of ancient Persia — an enemy colossus that kept feuding Greek city-states friendly for a while, until the common threat faded and their innate suspicion returned.
The United States is rapidly becoming a universal nation. Continuing immigration, our democratic society, our ethnic and racial assimilation, our common popular culture, our meritocracy, and shared material dreams have created equal and unified Americans out of nearly all the tribes and races of the globe. Europe, for all its socialist pretenses, is a much more stratified and narrow society, plagued with unassimilated minorities. It is hard to imagine a Colin Powell, Alberto Gonzales, or Condoleezza Rice running the key ministries of France, Italy, or Belgium.
- Withdraw as many American troops from the Continent as is not injurious to the global responsibilities of the United States.
- Allow dissident Europeans to enjoy fast-track immigration to the United States.
- Quietly cultivate friendships with eastern European countries, and encourage stronger relations with countries that have signaled shared interests with the U.S., like Britain, Denmark, Holland, and Italy, all of which have reason to be wary of the French- German axis.
- We must keep Europe in mind in all questions of U.N. reform. The European Union deserves one collective U.N. veto befitting its new transcontinental nationhood, not multiple votes as at present. India and Japan should assume their rightful places at the Security Council table next to the single European vote. And we should press for a General Assembly composed only of elected governments, rather than the present mix of democracies and rogue regimes that often look to Europe for tolerance, subsidies, and trendy anti-Americanism.
- Finally, we must seek out pragmatic Europeans who are tired of business as usual, and wish to reform their union in ways that will promote American affinity
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