A letter from German political and business leaders urging the UK to remain in the European Union on Friday is a clear sign of the growing concern in Berlin at the Brexit deadlock. Angela Merkel has begun to engage more directly with the Brexit process in recent weeks, holding long phone conversations with Theresa May and other EU leaders. But sources in Berlin say Friday's Brexit love letter is not a sign that Germany is about to ride to Mrs May’s rescue. The letter may have been signed by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Mrs Merkel’s anointed successor, but neither the chancellor nor her protege were the instigators behind it. It was the brainchild of Norbert Röttgen, who was sacked as a minister... To continue reading this article Start your free trial of Premium Access all Premium articles Subscriber-only events Cancel any time Free for 30 days then only £2 per week Try Premium Access one Premium article per week Register for … [Read more...] about German political and business leaders urge Britain to ditch Brexit
Taking up 92 seats in the lower house of parliament, the country's largest opposition party uses every chance it gets to rail against immigration, Islam and especially Chancellor Angela Merkel. The combative rhetoric, some of it unthinkable until a few years ago, has at times stunned seasoned lawmakers. But the tactic appears to be paying off. Recent surveys suggest the AfD would garner 18 percent of votes if elections were held now, second only to Merkel's centre-right CDU, itself weakened by the rise of the far right. "The parliamentary culture is now more confrontational," said Paul Nolte, a history professor at the Free University of Berlin. "The AfD is not considered a normal party, and in the Bundestag it doesn't act like a normal party," he told AFP. In what the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily called "a historic turning point", the AfD took 12.6 percent of votes in last year's September 24th elections to win its first seats in the national parliament. Not bad for a party that … [Read more...] about One year on from election, far right has transformed German politics
Who are the main players? Horst Seehofer, the 68-year-old leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and federal Interior Minister. Seehofer is about to turn 69 and has been head of the CSU for a decade. Once seen as the saviour of the Bavarian party, he is now being challenged by Markus Söder, a hardliner 17 years his junior, who wants to take over the party's leadership. Angela Merkel, Chancellor since 2005 and head of the Christian Democrats (CDU). She is Seehofer’s boss but the two have never had an easy relationship. He already resigned from a position in her team in 2004 when the two had a falling out over health insurance policies. What is the argument about? Seehofer wants to be able to turn asylum seekers back at the German border if they have already been registered in another European country. Border police would check the people’s fingerprints against a Europe-wide database. If they came up as registered in another country, the police could refuse … [Read more...] about What you need to know about the conflict paralyzing German politics
What is the problem? Germany's conservative parties are a little like two crime families who work together as long as one stays off the other's turf. This has worked out pretty well over several decades as the CSU have sat in power in Munich, while the CDU dominated politics on the federal level. There were unwritten rules to their collaboration though. Whereas the mafia (at least in the films) drew a line at bringing drugs into the country, the unspoken code of German conservative politics was: no immigrants (or at least, not too many). When Angela Merkel decided not to close the borders as thousands of refugees crossed the border in 2015 she broke this rule. Ever since then the ageing boss of the CSU, Horst Seehofer, has been seething. Throw into the mix a hot-headed upstart who is challenging Seehofer's grip on power in the CSU and you not only have the ingredients for a ropy Hollywood movie, but also for real-life German politics. Now Interior Minister, Seehofer has loudly … [Read more...] about Analysis: Is one man about to collapse German politics as we know it?
Richard Grenell. Photo: DPA The US’s ambassador to Germany has only been in the job for a day and he has already managed to raise the hackles of the German establishment. "As @realDonaldTrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy. "German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately," Richard Grenell wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening. As @realDonaldTrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately. — Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 8, 2018 Grenell, who only assumed the post of ambassador hours beforehand, was responding to US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his country out of a landmark nuclear deal signed with Iran in 2015. The White House has said that any company that trades in Iran will now face sanctions in the US. Grenell’s tweet was met with immediate scorn from … [Read more...] about German political class reacts angrily to ‘instructions’ from new US ambassador