Four Ways Merkel’s Rule Could End

By Patrick Donahue , Arne Delfs , and Patricia Suzara

How long can she survive as Germany’s chancellor?

After shaking up German politics by announcing her departure as Christian Democratic Union leader in October, Angela Merkel said she’s prepared to serve out her fourth term as chancellor through 2021.

But her decision to hand over her party job is a sign of her diminishing sway and she’ll have to dodge a number of obstacles to survive another three years. Carsten Nickel, a London-based analyst at political-risk consultant Teneo, rates her chances at just one-in-three.

“The risks are very real for her,” Nickel said.

We’ve drawn up four scenarios for the final act of the chancellor’s political life and rated the probability of each one.

After shaking up German politics by announcing her departure as Christian Democratic Union leader in October, Angela Merkel said she’s prepared to serve out her fourth term as chancellor through 2021.

But her decision to hand over her party job is a sign of her diminishing sway and she’ll have to dodge a number of obstacles to survive another three years. Carsten Nickel, a London-based analyst at political-risk consultant Teneo, rates her chances at just one-in-three.

We’ve drawn up four scenarios for the final act of the chancellor’s political life and rated the probability of each one.

The issue comes to a head with one of the wedge issues that has divided the CDU throughout Merkel’s time in office—it could be immigration, euro-area reforms, or a regional election setback. The chancellor, perhaps only a few months into 2019, announces that she can no longer rely on party backing and resigns.

Scenario 2: Coalition Collapse

The Social Democrats’ collapse in the polls finds no bottom, heading into the single digits and triggers fears that Germany’s oldest party could be all but wiped out, like its center-left allies, the French Socialists. The clamor from the grassroots to scrap the coalition builds.

After a trouncing in the May 2019 European election, Olaf Scholz, Merkel’s SPD finance minister and vice chancellor, brings forward a planned review of the coalition deal. Fed up with the punishment, the SPD leadership opts to end the coalition, setting up a confidence vote against the government and forcing the chancellor to resign.

Scenario 3: The Voters Decide

Merkel and the CDU leadership are chugging along and the SPD is still holding up as the chancellor heads into three state elections in eastern Germany in late 2019. A local flareup, perhaps on the scale of this summer’s demonstrations in the eastern city of Chemnitz, reignites support for the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD.

In a historic first, the CDU loses in the state of Saxony and the AfD becomes the biggest party, sparking a rebellion in the party ranks, who use the event to mount another attack on Merkel’s migration policy.

Merkel limps into 2020 looking increasingly battle weary after 15 years in office. She says it’s time for a new generation to take the party forward. The SPD takes its cue to pull out of the coalition, triggering a snap election.

Scenario 4: The History Maker

Merkel’s relations with her party remain steady, the SPD hangs on and the coalition muscles through political pitfalls into 2020.

A year out from the 2021 election, a drumbeat of demands arises from the party for the chancellor to step aside and make way for the CDU’s candidate so they can campaign from a position of power. But the SPD has no intention of installing a new chancellor. Wolfgang Schaeuble, a party elder who was once Merkel’s political rival, calls for calm. “The constitution intends the legislative period to last four years,” he tells the rebels, echoing an increasingly common refrain.

After another tight election result, the CDU’s leadership begins negotiations with rival parties while Merkel waits out her time and stays on as caretaker. Talks drag on, and on Dec. 19, 2021, Germany’s first woman chancellor overtakes her mentor Helmut Kohl to become the country’s longest-serving post-war leader.
https://www.bloomberg.com/europe

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