Paul Lachine

Merkel in the Land of Smiles

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is celebrating a landslide election victory, having fallen just short of an outright parliamentary majority. But can her next government – most likely a grand coalition with the Social Democrats – address the difficult issues that will soon disturb the German idyll?

BERLIN – Germany’s elections are over. The winners and losers are clear, and the political landscape has changed profoundly. The real drama, however, occurred not among the country’s main parties but on the boundaries of the political spectrum.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is celebrating a landslide victory, with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) having fallen just short of an outright parliamentary majority. But the scale of her triumph is mainly due to the collapse of her liberal coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), which for the first time in the German Federal Republic’s history will not be represented in the Bundestag.

The liberals have always formed a key part of German postwar democracy; now they are gone. Responsibility for that lies, first and foremost, with the FDP. No governing party can afford such woefully incompetent ministers and leadership; Merkel had merely to stand back and watch the liberals’ public suicide over the last four years.

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