Denis Foynes – German Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed an amazing electoral victory to secure a third term in office.
Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats party did better than even they predicated, claiming 42% of the vote. However, their former coalition partners, the Free Democrats, failed to win enough votes to get seats in parliament. Hence, Merkel will have to form a partnership with another party in the parliament, perhaps the Green Party.
Nonetheless, Europe faces four more years of Merkel. What does this mean for the European Union, now that the future of the continent is squarely in her hands?
Well, members of the EU can expect further caution and austerity, basically more of the same. If anything, Merkel may even get tougher. It’s bad news for countries such as Greece, in which Merkel has become a hate-figure. The conditions she has attached to their economic bailouts (i.e. economic reforms and austerity) have made life extremely difficult for the people of Greece.
In other EU countries the Chancellor is met with a mixture of fear and begrudging respect. Her refusal to ease on her conditions in exchange for life-support economic packages is something to be admired, and the citizens of the economically challenged nations actually seem to trust her wisdom more than that of their own politicians.
However, Merkel may ease up on one thing, her drive for European economic integration. She has overseen a widening and deepening of the EU over the past eight years and she has previously voiced her support for an EU banking union. However, many experts believe she may ease off on this due partly to the EU weariness among many Germans.
The Eurozone crisis is make-or-break for Merkel and her legacy, and she knows it. Whether or not she succeeds in solving it, or gets sucked into it, will define how she is seen in the history books.