WHAT’S NEW(S) – GERMAN ELECTIONS – 30/09/2021

Écrit par sur 30 septembre 2021

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

Thank you for listening to this autumn’s first What’s New(s)! We’re back with new comments and fresh phrases that made the headlines across Europe this week.

All eyes were set on Germany last Sunday; after 16 years of Merkel, the Germans were deciding on who will become their next leader, and who might change Europe’s future. Perhaps not surprisingly, Merkel’s successor did not succeed in maintaining the lead.

You’ll find the script below:

How did European newspapers react to Laschet’s loss?

Well, indeed, for the press it was not such a surprise that Laschet’s party turned out to be the loser of these elections. CDU became second with 24.1 percent of the votes, thereby losing over 6 million voters compared to last elections; “The worst result ever” underlined Philip Oltermann in the Guardian.“ Slowly but surely, Armin Lashet has begun to acknowledge the obvious: he lost.”, wrote Matthew Karnitscnig in POLITICO on Monday evening. The fact that Laschet’s loss does not come as a surprise is also due to the multiple blunders he made during the election campaign, including laughing during the flood visits; being vague during election debates; and, highlighted Flemish broadcaster VRT, the ultimate blunder of revealing his voting ballot at the election day, in front of the press. In Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Carmen Valero pictured Laschet as a “moderate anti-leader without charisma.” Laschet is however not willing to give up, wrote Nynke van Verschuer in Dutch newspaper NRC, despite his loss, “he seems determined to become the next chancellor”.

And how about the triumphs of SPD, and the Greens, was this somehow remarkable? In most other European countries, the socialist had to take large losses…

According to SPD itself “social democracy is back”, according to Jon Henly in the Guardian, one must however be careful however to conclude that Europe’s centre left is stirring. In France, the socialist party shows no signs of recovering, in the Netherlands, the Dutch labour party PVDA has reached historic lows, and in Czech Republic, where elections will be held next month, the Social Democratic Party may fail to reach the threshold needed to seat in the parliament. Even if the predicted death of Europe’s socialist parties may be exaggerated, talking of a so-called “revival” would be premature, he argues. Besides, SPD’s win doesn’t guarantee a leftist government in Germany, the party is confronted with limited coalition options and intra-party divisions, estimated Euractiv, decreasing its chances for winning the post-election battle.

But, of course, national newspapers were also speculating about what the outcome of these elections might mean for the future of Europe, and bilateral relationships… Merkel may be perceived as Europe’s strong stayer, in Southern European countries, she was not always that much loved, was she? How did the press in Southern Europe write about the new state of play?

Spanish newspaper El Diario highlighted CDU’s defeat as a historic low for the Cristian Democratic Party in Germany and remarks that European conservatives remain in power only in the east of Europe. La Repubblica launches the following question: What importance will the new Germany have without Merkel as a tactical genius? Some Italian newspapers such as Il Foglio point at Mario Draghi as the new personality that will ‘lead Europe’.  Armando Esteves Ferreira in Correio Da Manhã states that Merkel has been the most influential politicians of the EU in the 21st century, and even if her decisions were not always the best ones, she took all of them with seriousness, courage and determination. Not surprisingly, in Greece the perception of Merkel is slightly different. According to a recent survey quoted by Deutsche Welle, in most surveyed countries around 77% of respondents trust Angela Merkel to do the right thing on the global stage. In Greece this was only 30%.

And how about the North-Western European countries, do the outcomes look promising for them?

In the British Financial Times, Guy Chazan argues that the outcomes of the elections will probably lead to a new era of fragmentation and political uncertainty. Merkel’s departure marks the end of a model of stability with two dominating parties. Europe’s economic leader could end up with its first ever three or even four party coalition government, and this will have far reaching implications for the way it is run, he writes. In Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, professor Jakko Pekelder estimates that it was about time for Germany to change political colour, “no democracy lasts forever when a single party seems to have a monopoly”. Besides, it is reassuring that the extremist parties such as the Alternative for Germany (AFD) did not succeed in gaining ground, he argues. Still, this historic election results might mean more instability in Germany, and thus in Europe.

Image par blickpixel de Pixabay


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