The congresses of the German Christian-Democrat Parties CDU and CSU, and the German Social-Democrat SPD have endorsed Germany’s new ‘Black-Red” coalition government, led by CDU leader Angela Merkel. One of the things the new coalition wants to do is to revive the EU constitutional treaty when Berlin takes over the helm of the European Union in January 2007.
Though the Christian-Democrats endorsed the new coalition, critics within Merkel’s own party feel uneasy about the party giving up so much of its program. The influential conservative newspaper Die Welt writes today that “Nobody knows [...] the direction in which Merkel wants to take the country.” The paper complains that Merkel is back-pedalling on all the free market reforms she promised during the election campaign.
Die Welt asks: “What does Angela Merkel want? There is only one sure answer to this often-asked but never-resolved question. She wants to be chancellor, the first woman in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany to hold this office. But nobody knows the answer to the next question, about the direction in which she wants to take the country.” The paper says that it is true that Merkel had preferred another coalition, but it adds that this choice, too, had been made only out of ambition. “She thought she did not need [the SPD] because [during the election campaign] another coalition partner, [Guido] Westerwelle’s [free-market Liberal] FDP, looked as good as certain.”
The Berliner Zeitung mocks Merkel because she asked critics within her own CDU to show “a bit of respect” for the long hours she spent putting her new government together. “Does the woman know what she is talking about? [...] If Angela Merkel, who has not yet been chancellor for a single second, is already demanding respect from her party colleagues, what will she be demanding from us citizens?”
One thing, however, is certain. Merkel has no respect for the French and Dutch voters who killed the EU constitution when they rejected it in referendums six months ago. As stated in its coalition agreement, the new government plans to use Germany’s presidency of the EU in 2007 to revive the ratification of the EU constitution. “We stand for the European constitutional treaty,” the text reads, reiterating that the constitution makes the EU more democratic, efficient and transparent. Criticising the EU is taboo in Germany.
Meanwhile, Merkel’s coalition partner, the SPD, has elected Matthias Platzeck, the Prime Minister of the state of Brandenburg, as its party leader. Like Merkel, Platzeck is from the former East Germany. The two biggest German parties are now being led by an “Ossie.”