Beneath the stability of Merkel, the right and left roil Germany - Tim Büthe writes for The News & Observer

Friday, September 22, 2017

For those looking to Germany for stability in transatlantic relations and world politics, there is good news and bad news in this Sunday’s elections.

In Germany’s parliamentary democracy, voters elect a new parliament, which in turn elects the chancellor. Angela Merkel, Germany’s stoic head of government since 2005, is practically certain to remain chancellor.

Against this appearance of stability, however, the election will likely lead to greater domestic political conflict and uncertainty, which in turn will complicate Germany’s relationship with the United States.

Merkel remaining chancellor is good news. It signals continuity and stability in Germany and beyond. As a fully committed Europeanist, she is heavily invested in Franco-German cooperation, the bedrock of European integration, and tends to prioritize building EU-wide support for foreign policy initiatives.

For the United States, this means having a reliable partner on the international stage whenever the U.S. and the EU can agree on the ends (even when they might agree to disagree about the means). And Merkel is strikingly good at forging an international consensus when it matters.

The bad news is that it’s far from clear what kind of government Merkel will be leading – and that the more complicated domestic politics after the election might constrain her international leadership.

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