Turbulent times for Germany's big parties

After bitter losses in the federal elections and gruelling coalition talks, the SPD and the CDU/CSU are dogged by ongoing debates about their leadership. Europe's press fears that Germany's big established parties could be permanently damaged.

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Právo (CZ) /

A warning to Europe's social democrats

Právo fears the total collapse of German social democracy:

“The SPD is ahead of the AfD by just a few points. Alice Weidel, leader of the AfD's parliamentary group, says her party will soon catch up with the SPD because it has a broad popular base and defends the people's interests. So there's a lot at stake. Fewer and fewer people feel an affinity with the left, and they are swapping their allegiance to right-wing populists. Instead of presenting programmes for the future the socialists are merely swimming in the conservatives' wake. That won't be any different with the grand coalition. This coalition could be the last thing the SPD gets excited about - and a warning to Europe's other social democratic parties.”

15min (LT) /

Ignorance leads to ruin

The SPD seems to be facing the same fate as the Lithuanian Social Democrats, 15min warns:

“The political game being played by Schulz and the other party leaders who ignore the younger party members is reminiscent of the selfish behaviour of the Lithuanian Social Democrats after their election rout one year ago. Back then the old party hacks who over the years had degenerated into a sort of nomenclature went against the wishes of the younger members and decided in favour of joining the government. When the government posts were shared out they betrayed the new party leadership and the majority. In the end the old members tried to split the party. But now they seem to have come out empty-handed.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

Why Merkel can't let go of power

The CDU also has a problem because Merkel's grip on power is counterproductive, the Salzburger Nachrichten concludes:

“Merkel has long been a dominant figure in the CDU. People like her whose iron wills have political developments find it hard to ease their grip on power. But a Prussian-Protestant sense of duty also plays a role in her clinging to the top spot. ... Now Angela Merkel must quickly make up for lost time in the CDU. With a new cabinet she must temper the public's weariness with her person and her way of doing politics. She must let talented young politicians have their say as potential successors. And she must make more room for political debate within her party.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

A first-rate drama

The taz voices serious concerns about Germany's position on foreign policy:

“The withdrawal of the ex-EU parliament president, ex-SPD leading candidate and soon-to-be ex-party leader Schulz is a first-rate drama. For him, for his party. But also for this country. ... A state whose political representatives keep on bowling each other over like in a banana republic becomes a laughing stock on the international stage. The right-wing tendencies in Europe, the global refugee movements, the swelling goat song between the superpowers - you can actually smell the fires smouldering in foreign policy. Who does the SPD, who does this grand coalition have to offer who can deal with all these issues both respectfully and skilfully? As said above: this is all a first-rate drama.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Germany suddenly unstable

Germany has unexpectedly become a politically unstable country, Mladá fronta dnes concludes:

“The SPD is in free fall and resembles a boat adrift at sea. Where it ends up will only be clear after the internal party referendum on the coalition agreement. It is also only then that Angela Merkel will know whether her concessions to the SPD, which resemble a capitulation, were at all worthwhile. Within the CDU voices calling for 'dynamic, clever, young brains' and 'fresh, unused faces' to finally be put in key posts are growing louder. ... Germany is entering unfamiliar territory. An anchor of stability? A model of solidarity? Adventurously insecure would be more accurate.”

Financial Times (GB) /

SPD party base could rebel

After the quarrels of the last few days the party's rank and file could refuse to back the SPD leadership, columnist Wolfgang Münchau fears in the Financial Times:

“The SPD's leadership has come out of this looking like treacherous plotters. It must surely be tempting, from the perspective of an SPD member, to get rid of them and seek a new start. ... I cannot rule out that the SPD members will vote narrowly in favour of the coalition, but currently I do not think the party leadership has a majority, even with Mr Schulz out of the picture. Even if there is a narrow vote in favour, it is hard to see how this coalition, and Ms Merkel, can last a full term.”