Crisis in Germany: should Europe be worried?

In the context of the political earthquake in Thuringia and the CDU's search for direction, Germany is wrestling with the question of how to deal with the AfD. Europe's commentators focus on the political turmoil in Germany and fear that Europe will have a hard time coping with the crisis in its centre of power.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

A proxy war for Germany's future

The divisions within the CDU could cripple Germany as a leading EU power, the Irish Times fears:

“While EU leaders are unlikely to mourn Kramp-Karrenbauer's departure, they should be careful what they wish for. At the root of the CDU's crisis is a split over how to respond to the threat on its right flank. Should it follow the example of Austria's conservatives and veer to the right to arrest the AfD's rise, or maintain Merkel's centrist course and take the fight to the reactionaries? That anguished debate is a proxy battle for Germany's future, and the longer it continues to consume Germany's biggest political bloc the deeper the power vacuum at the heart of Europe will grow.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Merkel no longer in control

All of a sudden Angela Merkel is a lame duck, Der Standard comments:

“Angela Merkel has taken on a lot: 'her' EU presidency as the brilliant end to a long chancellorship in the service of Europe, a reliable handover to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in 2021. This dream has now collapsed overnight. After the AKK disaster, Merkel herself suddenly looks like a lame duck politically. Regardless of how things turn out in Berlin, whether it's quick new elections, the new CDU leader - presumably Armin Laschet or Friedrich Merz - also taking over as chancellor, or the coalition dragging on unchanged over the summer: in the eyes of her EU partners Merkel stands for the past and not for a dynamic future. So the crisis in Berlin is also crippling Europe.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

A crisis that hasn't begun in the south

Efimerida ton Syntakton fears that Europe could be hit by a new crisis:

“The new Social Democratic party leadership, which was elected with a clear left-leaning mandate, proved in practice even before the political crisis in Thuringia that it neither wanted nor was able to bear the costs of a collapse [of the grand coalition]. The most likely scenario is therefore that the mandate of Merkel's grand coalition will end in September 2021. ... A complete destabilisation of the political landscape in Germany in the form of a prolonged crisis after the elections in September 2021 would promote eurosceptic, far-right populism in both France and Italy. ... Ten years after the outbreak of the crisis in the Eurozone which destabilised the countries of the South socially and politically, it seems it's Germany's turn now.”

Pravda (SK) /

Convincing concepts for East Germany needed

Thuringia is a good example of how the political spectrum in Germany is becoming increasingly polarised, Pravda contends:

“This is often justified with an eye to the supposed democratic inexperience of citizens from the former GDR, which some say is responsible for the socialists' return to power and the advance of the AfD. However, the confusion in Thuringia was largely caused by West German politicians. The central leadership, especially the conservative and liberal parties in Berlin, completely misjudged what was going on in Thuringia. ... It's no longer enough to rule out cooperation with the increasingly strong AfD on the basis of a purely formal definition. Convincing concepts must be developed and clearly communicated to voters.”