Balance of Power: Angela Merkel’s Struggle to Find a PartnerBy and
With Angela Merkel a veritable shoo-in to win a fourth term as chancellor when Germans vote on Sunday, the big question is whether she can build a coalition that favors the wide-ranging measures to shore up the euro that the rest of the currency union is preparing.
Merkel’s current partners, the pro-European Social Democrats, are staring at a historically low result and have expressed great reluctance to support her for another term. Still, if their vote holds up better than expected, they might be persuaded to join another grand coalition and support greater European integration.
But historically, the more skeptical Free Democrats have been the preferred partner for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and they’re among four parties hovering around the 10 percent mark. A strong performance from them could see the return of an alliance that has been resistant to anything that smacks of putting German money on the line to bind the euro area more tightly.
If the Free Democrats struggle, Merkel would need the Greens as well to hit the 50 percent mark. And that could lead to some awkward discussions around the cabinet table. Click here for everything you need to know about the vote.
North Korea’s threat | Kim Jong Un dismissed Donald Trump as “mentally deranged” and warned of a response of the “highest level” to the president's United Nations speech. The country's foreign minister suggested the regime might even detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific. Trump meanwhile touted new sanctions, including steps to deny foreigners who do business with North Korea from accessing the U.S. financial system.
Zuckerberg’s pledge | As special counsel Robert Mueller scrutinizes Russia’s use of Facebook’s social network to influence last year’s U.S. presidential election, the company pledged to overhaul its political advertising and agreed to give Congress all the evidence it has on the campaigns. “I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who’s viewed by some as a potential 2020 presidential candidate.
It’s May Day | U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will step into a medieval cloister in Florence today and illuminate the European Union on her latest thinking on Brexit. It’s been eight months since her last landmark speech and reality has started to bite. The embattled leader will strike a conciliatory tone, suggest a transition period of two years and make clear Britain will meet its obligations. But will that be enough for a breakthrough in negotiations?
Travel ban deadline | President Donald Trump is on the verge of a fresh clash with business and civil-rights leaders as he faces a Sunday deadline to extend his travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries. As Toluse Olorunnipa and Greg Stohr report, Trump has hinted he might even broaden the ban, which has prompted court challenges and strife inside the White House, when he announces his decision — possibly today.
What downgrade? | China decried as the “wrong decision” the latest downgrade to the nation’s credit rating, a move that undercut President Xi Jinping’s economic credentials a month before a key Communist Party reshuffle. Investors hungry for high-yield debt paid little mind to the warning from S&P Global Ratings, helping a state-run Chinese lender sell Asia’s biggest dollar bond in three years.
Nigeria’s new threat | Already battling Islamic State-inspired militants in the north, Nigeria has slapped the terrorist designation on a new group of activists in the east campaigning for the revival of an independent Biafra, which collapsed half a century ago after one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars. As Yinka Ibukun reports, the move threatens to radicalize a movement that routinely clashes with police on the streets but has no military capacity - yet.
And finally... Another U.S. trip for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and another video emerges of his supporters beating up protesters. This clip shows Erdogan watching from the stage of a fancy New York hotel as thickset men punch and wrestle a T-shirted demonstrator who demanded the president “get out of my country.” It’s the third straight visit by Erdogan, often criticized for his harsh treatment of opponents at home, to feature a brawl. Trump has heaped praise on the Turkish leader, saying he’s running a very difficult part of the world and is “getting very high marks.”
— With assistance by Karl Maier