Question time for Merkel in the Bundestag
This was a first for the German parliament, the Bundestag: in the new format of the Chancellor's Question Time Angela Merkel faced questions from the lawmakers. The introduction of the question and answer session was part of the coalition agreement between Merkel's CDU party and its junior partner in government, the SPD. What do Europe's journalists have to say about the event?
Gentle questions instead of a grilling
This was nothing but harmless banter, Der Standard complains:
“The event seemed promising: at last the members of parliament would have the chance to really 'grill' the head of government. But unfortunately the 'grilling' was a washout, with Merkel-style fabric softener. This was firstly down to the format. The fact that there was just 60 seconds for question and answer was not the problem. As we all know, keeping it short can spice things up. ... But the MPs didn't have the option to keep pressing for an answer. ... The opposition in particular had failed to sharpen its modest little swords. This needs to be improved for Merkel's next question time, otherwise we may as well forget the whole thing.”
German elite worried about foreign affairs
German political scientist Alexander Rahr finds the predominance of foreign policy issues conspicuous. In a guest commentary for the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia he writes:
“The chancellor couldn't bring herself to make harsh statements directed at the US, and instead stressed the need for further dialogue with Washington. But it is notable that she took the same line on Russia. Of course she didn't announce that the sanctions would be lifted and relations would return to their former friendliness. But she repeated that Berlin and Moscow must stay in dialogue. ... It was also noticeable that as the discussion went on the emphasis shifted away from domestic policy and towards foreign policy. ... Normally the Germans are mainly interested in their own agenda. But all the turbulence at the international level is making the German elite uneasy.”