March 21, 2017
Is Merkel going to say something?
Angela Merkel’s indecision is now the major topic of conversation in German politics. She is wildly admired by liberals abroad as the supposed leader of the western world, an accolade usually expressed by people very far removed from the inside track of German politics. What is noticeable at the moment is the total absence of a campaign against Martin Schulz, who is dominating the airwaves and building momentum. Also absent is a firm response to the daily outrages from Turkey.
On the former, Merkel and her strategists had hoped to entrap Schulz in the molasses of the grand coalition, and take away his single greatest appeal - his ability to lead a member of the coalition without being involved with its policies. Schulz has declined all invitations to coalition meetings, on the grounds that he had more important things to do like attending summer parties, a response that has left the CDU both speechless and without an alternative strategy. Merkel has now hired Joachim Koschnicke, Opel's chief lobbyist and her former political adviser, as a special strategic adviser for the upcoming election campaign, which shows that her internal party apparatus is current not up to scratch. We believe that this will change, but for the moment Schulz has the momentum.
Merkel is also, cautiously, trying to address the problem of repeated Nazi comparisons from senior Turkish politicians, including of course Tayyip Recep Erdogan. She said yesterday that, if these insults continued, Germany would have to ban Turkish political meetings on its soil. But she was only speaking after a massive increase in domestic political pressure.