Balance of Power: Germany’s Iron Chancellor Looks VulnerableBy
Over her 12 years as German chancellor Angela Merkel has become Europe’s preeminent leader, shaping the bloc with pragmatic policies as she tackled the financial crisis, Russian aggression and a historic influx of migrants.
But signs of trouble are emerging at home after a lackluster election campaign left her struggling to piece together a coalition to take power for a fourth term.
Almost eight weeks after the polls closed, negotiators are at loggerheads over key issues including refugees and climate policy — two of the themes of Merkel’s time in charge.
No one is writing her political obituary yet, but a self-imposed deadline is looming Thursday. If talks fall apart it would raise the prospect of a repeat election for the first time in the history of the federal republic. That would call into question Merkel’s future, and French President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to push through euro-area reforms with her help.
The chancellor looked secure when she announced her bid for a fresh term and polled strongly throughout most of the campaign. But a late surge by the far-right anti-establishment group, Alternative for Germany, left Merkel weakened. And reminded the rest of Europe that her chancellorship won’t go on forever.
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— With assistance by Grant Smith, and Kathleen Hunter