Constanze Stelzenmüller

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Germany’s New Normal?

Regional elections in Germany are rarely newsworthy outside of the country, but last week’s elections in Bavaria and Hesse—coming at the halfway point for the tenure of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government—were different. Both states are ruled by conservative minister presidents favored for reelection, while the progressive “traffic light” coalition that governs at the national level in Berlin—a three-party grouping composed of the Social Democrats (“red”), the Greens, and the liberal Free Democratic Party (“yellow”)— is currently deeply unpopular, earning approval ratings of less than 40 percent in recent national polls. So, much like U.S. midterm elections, which usually send a rebuke to the administration in power, these contests ought to have been shoo-ins for the incumbents from the Christian Democrat Union (CDU), the conservative party that is in opposition at the national level.…  Seguir leyendo »

Stalemate on the ground

As a rather mild winter in Eastern Europe turns to spring and mud turns gradually to firm soil, the Russia-Ukraine war is entering a new phase. The question is whether this will lead to a change in warfare — from the high-intensity attrition kind that has been going on for the past six months to so-called maneuver warfare, in which positions and territorial holdings can shift significantly.

Each side promotes its own theory of victory — and believes it has the upper hand.

Michael O’Hanlon: Since last fall, territory holdings have mostly come to a stalemate. Russia controls about 17 percent of the land area — up from 7 percent before Feb.…  Seguir leyendo »

A torn election campaign banner of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Saxony. (Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)

When the two eastern German states of Saxony and Brandenburg went to vote on Sunday, Germans held their breath fearfully. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition government had seemed fragile for months. In 2018, wrenching losses for her Christian Democrats (CDU) in two successive regional elections had caused her to step down as party head. A rout in this May’s European Parliament elections had led to the resignation of Andrea Nahles, leader of her coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), who are still struggling to find a replacement.

Would yet another drubbing for either or both parties be a death blow for the government?…  Seguir leyendo »

Martin Schulz, chancellor candidate of the German Social Democrats (SPD). (Jens-Ulrich Koch/Getty Images)

They say we Germans are predictable and boring. Yet, seven months ahead of the Sept. 24 national elections, we are rubbing our eyes as a bearded and bespectacled former bookseller without a high-school diploma appears to have a serious chance at wresting Germany’s top political office from Chancellor Angela Merkel — hailed by some as the leader of the free world and the last bastion of the liberal international order.

What with the Trump White House expressing — how do we put this politely? — reservations about the whole NATO and E.U. thing (not to mention Germany itself), plus expected Russian interference in our vote, we Germans had honestly felt we were not missing out on political titillation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Germany’s neighbors and allies mostly concede that the country has taken responsibility for the horrors of its past. What they really worry about is what course it charts for the future. As Europe’s largest economy and its de facto leader, as well as the United States’ current partner of choice on the continent, Germany’s actions are of consequence not only to itself. Or as Poland’s then-Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski memorably said in Berlin in 2011 : “I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity”.

So the new “White Book” policy framework the German Defense Ministry published this week — its first in a decade — is of interest not only to policy wonks and academics.…  Seguir leyendo »

You might call it the Obama paradox: Atlanticists on both sides of the ocean were certain that this president, inaugurated two years ago, would renew the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Yet two years later, the United States and Europe seem further apart than they have ever been in their policies as much as in public attitudes. For the United States, Europe appears to be less relevant than ever; in Europe, anti-Americanism seems to be drifting into simple indifference.

According to some, this was inevitable: America’s destiny in the 21st century, they say, is to defend its lone superpower status against a rising China.…  Seguir leyendo »