It is still a long way until the election, but it looks increasingly that barring unforeseen circumstances, Angela Merkel will win a fourth term as Chancellor of Germany. Bloomberg:
As Merkel’s preferred candidate Emmanuel Macron won France’s presidential election, her Christian Democratic Union posted an unexpectedly clear victory in a much smaller contest in Schleswig-Holstein. It’s a confidence booster for the CDU ahead of elections next Sunday in SPD-led North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state with 18 million people and the main bellwether before the federal ballot.
Her greatest weakness domestically is based in the resentment against her dramatic “Germany welcomes you” message to migrants and refugees, but that issue seems to be fading away. Government policy has toughened, and Ms. Merkel hasn’t repeated her call. The SPD has no credibility to fight her on the migration issue, and the populist AfD, weakened by infighting, continues to flounder around in the shallow end of the polls.
With Le Pen beaten back in France and Merkel cruising toward re-election in Germany, there is stability at Europe’s core. Britain may be seceding, Italy sulking, and Poland and Hungary running wild, but the core of the Eurozone seems stable for now.
This is good news, but probably not good enough. We must hope that after the German elections the next Merkel government will be ready to take a fresh look at the blighted and depressed landscapes of Southern Europe from the Rust Belt of France through Italy and Greece.
Merkel may be running on a platform of stability, but to succeed afterward, she will have to embrace change.