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The elections in Germany marks the end of 16 years run with Angela Merkel as the Chancellor of Germany. Helmut Kohl was in office for only slightly longer. It feels like the end of an age, and in one sense it is.
Most Germans believe their ‘golden age’ is over, poll finds – “These findings suggest that, while Angela Merkel has cemented Germany’s position as a great European power, the cornerstones of her legacy – neutrality and consensus building – will not be enough to defend the unity of the EU, and its place in the world, in the years to come.” Germans will head to the polls on September 26 to elect a new parliament and choose a successor to Mrs Merkel, who has served as chancellor since 2005. Her own party, the Christian Democratic Union, is lagging its coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrat Party, in polls. Mrs Merkel’s SPD finance minister, Olaf Scholz, is likely to become the next chancellor.
Angela Merkel’s legacy is complex. She struck up relationships that were bad for Europe and strategic rivals of Germany:
- The Other Side of Angela Merkel’s 16 Years as German Chancellor | Foreign Policy – Far more troubling was the substance of many of her policies, which we can simply label “Merkantilism,” defined as the systematic prioritizing of German commercial and geoeconomic interests over democratic and human rights values or intra-EU solidarity. From her coddling of Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban as he built the EU’s first autocracy to her active courting of Europe’s geostrategic rivals in Russia and China, Merkel has tended to place German profit and expediency above European principles and values
- Handel mit China: Braucht Deutschland eine Wende? | Frankfurther Allgemeine Zeitung – there are more important things than doing good business in China. Germany’s foremost business paper editorial swipe at Angela Merkel and selected big German enterprises (Daimler Benz, Deutsche Bank, T Systems and Volkswagen Audi Group)
- Germans Demanding New China Policy. Will the Next Chancellor Deliver? | National Review – no matter who wins, German public opinion, pressure from the United States, and the strong possibility of having to partner with the Green Party in a coalition government make it likely the victor will be pushed in a more hawkish direction. The same hardening found among the German public is also happening in Parliament and the foreign ministry. Conservatives in the United States rightfully lament how bureaucracies often influence policy outcomes against the wishes of the principals leading them, not the other way around. When it comes to the future of Germany’s China policy, those bureaucratic exertions might not be such a bad thing
Democratic capitalism in crisis
Angela Merkel helped facilitate the rise of Viktor Orban in Hungary and facilitated similar a populist movement in Poland. Not actively, but by inaction. Which makes this interview with Martin Wolf of the FT all the more pertinent. More related content here.
60 minutes on Hong Kong
The Hong Kong government finished its engagement with a PR agency called Consolum. This agency came up with messaging for a campaign to relaunch Hong Kong. Quite how these messages would work effectively, when there is so much material ripe for the media to work against their measurement.
Some of it is surreal. Trade unions are considered subversive. Providing allowed allowed gifts to prisoners such as shower gel and packets of M&Ms became a natural security threat.