Should Merkel take her leave now?

After the scandal in Thuringia and the resignation of CDU chairman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, many commentators see Germany as leaderless and fear a power vacuum at Europe's core. A debate is emerging about whether the Chancellor should step down now to pave the way for a fresh start.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Germany reflects situation in Europe

Massimo Riva expresses concern about the state of the CDU in his column in La Repubblica:

“The first unavoidable consequence of the German crisis is that while the Berlin government will be present in Brussels in the coming months, its head and heart will be distracted by domestic politics issues. Yet the fact that the European agenda is being slowed is not the most alarming effect of the German crisis. ... What is really worrying is the reason behind the political storm in Berlin, one that Germany shares with other European countries, including Italy: the withdrawal of Mrs Annegret K-K shows her inability to tackle the deep divisions within the major German political party, which affect a fundamental point, namely the relationship with nationalist extremism.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Power games are just the tip of the iceberg

Merkel leaves her party and Germany a difficult legacy, Lidové noviny notes:

“The migration of CDU/CSU voters to the AfD is a major problem. But how to tackle it? Should the CDU, which ignores the AfD, condemn itself to permanent coalitions with the SPD, the Greens and potentially the post-communists? Friedrich Merz wants to win back traditional right-wing voters. While Merz is popular at the grassroots level, the CDU leadership fears him. With all this going on, what happens in the CDU when Merkel hands over power is only the tip of the iceberg. In Munich, US Democrat Nancy Pelosi warned against cooperation between Europe and Huawei. According to pollster Allensbach, however, the Germans have entirely different fears. Seventy-eight percent want more cameras in public spaces. This is the legacy of the Merkel era.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

The Merkel era is over

Merkel's style of government no longer works, explains Diário de Notícias:

“She always preferred silence and contemplative management to shock interventions in order to assert herself. This style has some merits, but also high risks. The Chancellor is above all a permanent crisis manager, sometimes with more success, sometimes with less. The chosen balance was appreciated. In the end, her centrism did not result in the classic centre-right party but in a grand coalition that encompassed a wide range of voters from the CDU to the FDP via the SPD and the Greens. ... This tense bow has now become unstringed due to various anti-systemic pressures.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Chancellor becoming a liabiliy for Germany

For Kristeligt Dagblad the consequences of the recent political upheavals are clear:

“Angela Merkel has failed to provide the CDU with a clear direction, and should resign as chancellor before Germany takes over the EU presidency in the summer. Although she still commands respect internationally, she won't be the one to provide an answer to the French super-federalist Emmanuel Macron's proposals or set out a visionary course for the EU. Merkel's sober and pragmatic nature was a boon to the EU domestically, but her era is over and new forces must take the helm. A domestically crippled, unpredictable Germany is the last thing Europe needs after Brexit.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Speedy withdrawal hard to imagine

Rzeczpospolita doesn't believe that Merkel will exit the political stage any time soon:

“The German EU Presidency begins in the middle of the year, and it's hard to imagine that Angela Merkel will disappear at a time like this. She remains the most popular politician in Germany and enjoys the respect of two-thirds of the population. But that doesn't change the fact that the CDU's most important task is to prepare for next year's elections. Her success depends on who she chooses as the party's new leader by the summer of this year.”