Towards a post-Merkel Europe

Ian Bremmer’s quick shot:

Hi everyone. Ian Bremmer here. Have a good week to all of you and I thought I would tell you a bit about Germany and Europe. Because of course we just had elections in Germany, Angela Merkel’s 16 year reign coming to an end – by far the strongest leader Germany has seen after the war, Europe has seen since then. collapse of the Soviet Union. And indeed, in many ways, the world has seen the 21st century. Xi Jinping, of course, runs a much bigger country and has consolidated a lot more power, but in terms of a free world, that’s Angela Merkel.

Now what we are seeing from the election is a population that is generally happy, not because Merkel’s party has done so well. In fact, they didn’t. The CDU only came in second with 24% of the vote. The Social Democrats actually won it, almost 26% of the vote. But as we often see in Germany, these are broad coalitions. The interesting thing though, and the reason I say Germans are generally happy, is because it’s a centrist vote. It is the vote of a pro-establishment party. The extreme right and left parties are in fact losing support, in particular the Alternatives for Germany, the Eurosceptics, the EU skeptics, the anti-migrants, a much more overtly nationalist party, have lost around three points. They’re down to about 10% now. And that’s a big deal because in the history of the world and of democracies over the last decade populism has increased, anti-establishment sentiment has increased, people believe that countries, their governments do not represent them. not really, do not reflect their interests well. And therefore, they want to break things. This is certainly what we are experiencing in the United States. We see it in Brazil to some extent. It even happens in a place like Canada, UK, and France, but not in Germany.

In Germany, what we are seeing is strong support for centrism. It is a government that will be weaker because the leadership will be weaker. And because whether or not it’s Olaf Scholz or Armin Laschet, and we won’t know for several weeks as the coalition is formed, although Scholz is very likely, one or the other with a tripartite coalition will be much weaker on the European and world stage than Merkel was.

What should be remembered is a lot of political continuity and stability in Germany, but weaker German leadership internationally. What does it mean? Well, for Europe, I mean France of course, Macron has a very strong interest in being seen as the leader of Europe, but his interests are not aligned with those of many other Europeans. You saw it with the announcement of the recent defense pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. France wants to be an Indo-Pacific power while Americans are increasingly uncomfortable that he has this role and the EU does not really want to play the game.

From the position of the EU, from the position of almost every other country in Europe, not the UK, but the UK is no longer in Europe, they see the Indo-Pac region as an area of commercial interest, industrial interest, technological interest, markets, but absolutely not where they want to play from a security point of view. And so the French government is trying to push the EU to develop this strategy. And he doesn’t have a lot of support. He is trying to get them to develop an independent European defense capability, but most Europeans are perfectly happy to be in NATO and they don’t want to spend more on defense, even when the Americans tell them to do so. the pre-existing group, they I don’t want to do it for a new dubious effectiveness of a single EU force. They don’t want to take the leadership on the security side. So, for all these reasons, the French will not be so powerful.

The Italians have a great government. Super Mario, Mario Draghi, who runs a kind of technocratic government with almost every party in the country backing him. This means a lot of reform in times of surplus. It’s fantastic for Italy for a few years, but it’s Italy and it won’t last long. And when that goes away you will have another succession of weak governments and weak prime ministers and it’s a smaller economy than Germany and France. And their levels of international diplomacy are much lower than those of either of the other two countries.

So what this really tells you is that individual European governments will matter less, which would be a problem for Europe if there wasn’t a European super structure, but there is. . So what is really happening is that the EU is going to matter more. Brussels will rely more in its areas of competence, on the environment, on trade, on tax policy, on technology, data and privacy. We will all be spending more time in Brussels.

It’s my point of view. Restaurants suck. It is not a very interesting city. I am sorry. It’s a beautiful place, but we’ll be spending more time there. I certainly am. Anyway, that’s it for me. I hope everyone is doing well. Be wise. Goodbye.

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