German Chancellor Angela Merkel “once seemed invincible. Now her time may be running out,” the WashPost’s Griff Witte writes from Berlin:
“Merkel’s troubles started with a bitterly disappointing election result in September. They grew when her first attempt at forging a new government collapsed in November. And they have been compounded in recent days, as polls have shown German voters tiring of her leadership.”
“Her rapidly diminishing political stock threatens to leave a void not only in Germany but also across the West, just as she had emerged as the most robust internationalist counterpoint to Trump-style nativism.” Merkel now has what many regard as a last shot to cobble together a coalition and ward off an embarrassing electoral do-over that could see her lose her grip on power.
There’s certainly no one who could immediately fill the outsize role that Merkel has played in global affairs. Though not always willingly, the low-key East German with a PhD in quantum chemistry has become de facto leader of Europe and keeper of the flame for those who regard President Trump’s brand of politics as a threat to core Western values.
“The world is engulfed by Trumpism and populism and vulgarianism,” said Kornelius, a journalist with Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “The alternative is not even visible anymore. Merkel has to prove that the alternative can still exist.”