Friday, 17 November 2017

The weakest politician in Europe?

No, I'm not talking about Mrs May. Weak though she is, there's a lot of competition for this title at the moment. I offer you my candidate: Mrs Merkel, or Mutti ("Mummy") as the Germans call her.

Nearly a month after the German federal election, Merkel has not put together a government yet. The Social Democrats have ruled out another grand coalition (the equivalent here would be Lab-Tory) and Merkel's Christian Democrats won't want to do business with the ulta-right AFD, so she is left trying to do the deal with the liberal Free Democrats and Greens. Talks so far have stalled over issues including immigration, climate change and EU defence plans.

I'm not surprised Merkel is coming under pressure from the greens on climate change as Merkel's government is the true climate change denier, in terms of actions, compared with Trump. Of course they are fully signed up to the Paris accord, but they say one thing and do another, burning ever greater quantities of coal, while the USA does the opposite, saying it will pull out of the international agreements but making progress in reducing emissions. Merkel is in a bind on this as a big reason for the Germans increasing coal burn is their commitment to phasing out nuclear and the Greens won't agree to her backing out of that.

Merkel has till Thursday, else there may have to be another election. Which she won't want in case the AFD do even better. So I expect deals will be cut.

But don't kid yourself that Germany has strong leadership. Our 'weak' PM's party got 42% of the vote, Mutti's party got 33%. They obviously succeed for other reasons.

PS It's not just me saying this. After writing this blog, I saw Wolfgang Munchau's tweet " Why Merkel's position on climate change is in reality no different from Trump's". In the eurointelligence blog his article titled "Germany's climate change hypocrisy" notes that at the Bonn climate change summit Germany was confronted by a 20 country initiative to commit to stopping burning coal. The problem for Germany is 40% of its power comes from coal.The UK is committed to phasing out coal fired power stations by 2025, while Germany is basically doing what Trump says he wants to do.

You can see the full article at

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