Chancellor Angela Merkel has sparked a mutiny from within her own party over a controversial coalition deal that allows her to remain in office for a fourth term. The deal, in which Merkel agreed to relinquish control over the most influential government ministries, has led a growing number of voices from within her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to say — publicly — that it is time to begin looking for her successor.
In a prime-time interview with ZDF television on February 11, Merkel, already in power for 12 years, rejected the criticism and insisted that she will serve another full four-year term. “I ran for a four-year term,” she said. “I promised those four years and I’m someone who keeps promises. I totally stand behind that decision.”
Merkel, who has been called the “Teflon Chancellor” because of her political staying power, may indeed manage to eke out another four years in office, albeit in a much-weakened position. Her decision in 2015 to allow into Germany more than a million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East sparked a mass defection of angry CDU voters to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), now the third-largest party in the German parliament. As a result, in Germany’s inconclusive election in September 2017, Merkel’s party achieved its worst electoral result in nearly 70 years.
The coalition deal, reached on February 7 between her center-right CDU, their Bavarian partners, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), must still be formally ratified by the SPD’s 460,000 rank and file members in a postal vote that begins on February 20. The outcome of that vote will be announced on March 4.