How long can Merkel cling to power?

The ruling CDU/CSU faction in the German Bundestag has voted its leader Volker Kauder out of office. In a surprise development Kauder's deputy Ralph Brinkhaus won the vote for the post. Because Kauder is considered one of Angela Merkel's closest allies the vote was seen as a test of the mood in her party after the internal row over asylum and the Maaßen affair. For commentators Merkel has suffered a serious setback.

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Večernji list (HR) /

2019 will be a fateful year for the chancellor

Večernji list speculates on how much longer Angela Merkel can remain in office:

“The vote was held in private and the result is certainly a slap in the face for the chancellor, as she backed Kauder's re-election wholeheartedly. Germany's biggest papers have predicted 'Chancellor Merkel's downfall' given that her own party has now turned its back on her. ... It will be hard to topple the chancellor before the elections to the European Parliament in 2019. But if the Christian Democrats suffer a defeat in those elections, Merkel will have a hard time quashing a mutiny in her own ranks.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Bad news for Macron

The growing doubts hanging over Merkel's future as chancellor are definitely not good news for Macron, Le Figaro comments:

“During her twelve years as chancellor 'Europe's strong woman' has never appeared so weak and powerless. She is bogged down by her coalition and challenged even within her own party. The entire traditional political class has been crippled by the rise of the AfD. ... Will Angela Merkel be able to hold on for the next three years, or will she fall victim to a revolution from within the CDU? One thing is certain: this is not good news for Emmanuel Macron. Because none of those now jostling around the chancellor take a positive view of his European dreams.”

HuffPost Italia (IT) /

The countdown has begun

Political scientist Ubaldo Villani-Lubelli sees the chancellor gradually losing control of her party. In Huffington Post Italia he writes:

“A seemingly insignificant election, that of the leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, has marked the beginning of the end for Merkel's system. Volker Kauder, the chancellor's most loyal follower and chair of the faction for thirteen years - he took over the post a day before the first Merkel government took office in 2005 - has been toppled by his deputy Ralph Brinkhaus. ... The vote is not just a rebellion against the unpopular Kauder, but a challenge to Angela Merkel, who no longer has the parliamentary group or her party (the CDU) under control and has had many difficulties steering the precarious ruling coalition so far.”

Origo (HU) /

German Union parties seething with tension

The CDU's dissatisfaction with the chancellor is now palpable, the pro-government website Origo concludes:

“The election is important because Volker Kauder is seen as the chancellor's close ally and must now leave his post after 13 years. Moreover, for those circles that oppose Angela Merkel the fact that they put up a counter-candidate at all sent a message. This hadn't happened since 1973. The challenger was the little known Ralph Brinkhaus. In the vote, Volker Kauder won 112 votes and Ralph Brinkhaus 125. Even before the vote it was already clear that the result would show whether the party is happy or not with Angela Merkel. Volker Kauder's ousting therefore testifies to a dissatisfaction that must be taken seriously.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Merkel must move now to stop AfD's rise

Now is the time for Angela Merkel to do her party and Germany a good turn, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:

“Her policies have often been called pragmatic, but in fact they're driven back and forth - and often too far to the left - by public opinion. And they have led to the rise of a party to the right of the CDU-CSU which is now in the process of doing lasting harm to the country's political culture. In the East German states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia, local parliaments will be elected in the autumn of 2019. If Merkel allows her party to break free of her rule and reposition itself in the run-up to these elections, the AfD could be stopped on its path to becoming an established party. That would be a strong signal on the part of the once most powerful woman in the world.”