You don’t see “Germany” and “ungovernable” in the same headline very often. But that might be about to change, as Chancellor Angela Merkel, for the past decade the central pillar of Europe’s Establishment, loses influence both at home and abroad.
First came a wave of populist (read anti-euro, anti-austerity, anti-immigration) gains across Europe, culminating with an actual victory in Italy’s most recent election. Then came the rise of Germany’s own populist movement, Alternative for Germany, or AfD, which has become a legitimate power in some parts of the country.
And now Mekel has apparently lost control of her cabinet. From yesterday’s New York Times:
BERLIN — For nearly two weeks Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to find a way to fire her own domestic intelligence chief, a man who had publicly contradicted her and become the darling of the far right for questioning the authenticity of a video showing angry white men chasing an immigrant.
But she couldn’t — not without risking the collapse of her fragile government.
Hans-Georg Maassen, the rebellious spy, has powerful friends, among them his immediate boss, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Bavarian conservatives and one of Ms. Merkel’s pricklier coalition partners.
Instead of firing Mr. Maassen, Ms. Merkel had to allow Mr. Seehofer to promote him. Mr. Maassen will get a pay raise of about 2,500 euros a month.
“You couldn’t make it up,” said Andrea Römmele, a professor of political science at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.
If the episode shows anything, analysts said in the aftermath, it is that Ms. Merkel is growing more feeble even as the far right — in Parliament, online and on the streets — is getting stronger.
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