On Sunday Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel announced what many had already speculated, that Germany’s first female leader was going to make a bid for a fourth term as Germany’s chancellor.
Named on several occasions as the world’s most powerful woman, Merkel will have a fight on her hands, as the worlds politics turn increasingly against immigration. Indeed the last two major political votes, Britain’s on the EU referendum and the U.S. presidential election have gone been won by largely anti immigrant policies. Merkel on the other hand is responsible for a large influx of immigrants in to Germany. This move has polarised opinion at home and abroad, and it will be the first opportunity for the public to vote since the migration began.
But her first hurdle is to remain as chairman of the Christian democratic union party at their upcoming conference. This it seems will be her easiest battle, as she’s expected to comfortably remain in charge.
The widely respected politician is well thought of at home, with polls suggesting she is still the favourite to win a fourth term. She’s also well thought of internationally, and is seen as a generally safe pair of hands with regards to international diplomacy and Germany’s dominant role in the European union. Indeed outgoing U.S. president Barack Obama described her as an “outstanding ally”.
Her ability to carefully steer Europe’s largest economy safely through the recession of 2008 with minimal damage has certainly enhanced her reputation.
It’s hoped that her progressive liberalism can still resonate in times that feel to many like a regression. As nationalistic and anti immigrant sentiments take hold in several western economies it’s hoped by many that Germany can remain liberal.
Whilst it’s hoped that Germany remains liberal, it’s France that gives most with liberal values the most concern. Whilst unlikely the front national’s Marine LePen makes for a potentially Trump like upset in France. France is another country that has a tendency towards nationalism that will make some political observers nervous. Especially after recent terror attacks in Nice and Paris, coupled with the dwindling backing of current president Francois Hollande. If anything, of all of the recent turns to the hard right, France may surprise many the least.
If France does opt for this hard right turn then what does the future hold for the European union? With Britain already on its way out, LePen has already flirted with the idea of France being offered the same option. The EU certainly survives with one country leaving, but what about if 2 go? The top brass in Strasbourg are certainly in for some bumpy election nights before the end of 2017.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.