Merkel re-elected CDU leader with record backing of 97.9%
For three years German chancellor Angela Merkel has rallied her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) behind often unpopular euro zone crisis measures by declaring them “Alternativlos” – without any real alternative.
Yesterday the German leader applied this logic to her bid for a third term: presenting herself to CDU delegates in Hanover as the only viable option for her party, for Germany and Europe. Delegates responded by re-electing her with a record 97.94 support.
“We are in turbulent times and sometimes we find ourselves in stormy seas but it is the CDU with a clear compass that brings us through,” she said, withholding a political map to go with the compass.
Instead she urged the party to “stand up for their values and believe in themselves”. It was, one delegate complained, a “festival of auto-suggestion”.
Ahead of next September’s general election they didn’t buy her claim that the outgoing coalition was “the most successful government since unification”. Delegates preferred her joke at the expense of her junior partner, the Free Democrats (FDP).
“God created the FDP to test us,” she said, a joke she hastily added was not hers.
Attack on opposition
To dampen talk of another grand coalition next year, Dr Merkel attacked the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) as still “plagued with doubt” over decade-old reforms that put the German economy back on track.
In brief European remarks, Dr Merkel demanded a European banking regulator “worth the name” and support for a financial transaction tax even without full euro zone support.
The euro zone was not out of the woods yet, she added, urging renewed reform efforts.
“I don’t want that the euro scrapes through but that it emerges from the crisis stronger than it went in,” she said.
Rather than explain the last year of crisis summits and rescue measures to delegates, she demanded their future support for her “Alternativlos measures”, saying “Germany can only do well when Europe’s doing well”.
Delegates gave her eight minutes of polite applause. “She’s seen off all competition inside her party so now they have no real alternative but to sit and applaud,” said Kurt Lauk of the CDU’s business wing. “Merkel has pushed Europe into a reform programme of unprecedented proportions yet doesn’t explain her vision in case it’s held up later against what she finally achieves.”
Norbert Barthle, CDU budgetary spokesman in the Bundestag, said the CDU leader “knows she already has party support on Europe and doesn’t have to ask for it”.
“There was a time a year or two ago when people were nervous and critical,” he said. “But most understand now we have a considerable interest in this because we will gain the most from the euro.”
Mr Barthle said Ireland could not expect any of the additional concessions given to Greece, but said other options might present themselves. “From our perspective it’s very difficult because of things like the [Irish] corporate tax,” he said.