German chancellor  Angela Merkel with Russian president Vladimir Putin. “She risks conflict with an influential section of the German political, media and business elite which, since the start of the crisis, has portrayed President Vladimir Putin as a Russian bear with a thorn in its paw: someone who needs sympathy, not sanctions.” Photograph: Reuters/Thomas Peter

For eight years Angela Merkel’s political trademark has been cautious, incremental politics – even in the most dramatic moments of euro crisis.(...)

Bavarian state premier and leader of the Christian Social Union Horst Seehofer gestures as he addresses his party members in Munich yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Michael Dalder

Allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel have admitted that Germany’s federal election is on a “knife-edge” after their Free Democrat (FDP) coalition partne(...)