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Criticized At Home And Abroad, Chancellor Scholz Jeopardizes Germany's Leadership In Europe

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s speech shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine was hailed as a “turning point”. But two months on, for some international commentators, the bubble has burst. Some believe this spells the end for Germany’s leadership role in Europe, while others are calling Scholz the country’s worst chancellor since 1949.


BERLIN — The German government has come in for criticism from international commentators for its half-hearted support of Ukraine.

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Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave a speech that was widely seen as a turning point, and both the German public and the international community believed it marked a new direction for German foreign policy — more money for the army and security, and taking more responsibility for areas of the world in crisis.

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How To Rebuild The German Military — Europe's Best Hope To Deter Putin

Germany is the only country that can provide the necessary army forces to secure NATO's eastern flank against Russia. Its army urgently needs targeted investment in tanks and personnel, as well as a new doctrine that examines all options without taboo, including a draft.


BERLIN — It was a brutally honest declaration by the highest-ranking officer in the German army. On the morning of the Russian attack on Ukraine, Inspector of the Army Lt. Gen. Alfons Mais wrote on his LinkedIn page that the German military had suffered from years of fiscal neglect and its shortcomings were visible for all to see.

And with those words, the majority of German politicians finally faced the truth. They saw what experts have been saying for years: the German armed forces are barely capable of national and alliance defense and thus cannot fulfill their constitutional mandate.

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In view of Russia's war of aggression, it has once again become clear that Germany must assume the main burden of conventional defense in Central Eastern and Northern Europe and once again act as the backbone of the (non-nuclear) NATO deterrent.

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Post-Merkel, Macron And Draghi Will Try To Ease Europe's Debt Rules

Coalition negotiations in Berlin will make for a period of political uncertainty that French President Emmanuel Macron is keen to exploit. He already has a new Italian partner, with whom he wants to steer the EU in a new direction.


BERLIN — In the coming weeks — perhaps even months — a power vacuum will reign in Berlin. But just like their colleagues in the world of science, political observers know that nature abhors a vacuum. It's just a matter of time, in other words, until the void is filled.

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Angela Merkel: Germany's Global Cover Story For 16 Years

Approaching Angela Merkel's final days in office, we take a look back at the major chapters in her reign as German Chancellor and an unlikely political icon on magazine covers around the world.

As Angela Merkel makes her final preparations to leave the world stage, it's hard to imagine what politician could fill the shoes of the woman Germans came to call "Mutti": the mother of the nation. Having spent most of the first 35 years of her life in the former East Germany, trained as a quantum chemist, this unassuming daughter of a Lutheran pastor had an unlikely rise to lead Europe's largest country for a generation.

Fast forward to today, and Germany's first female leader is heralded both at home and abroad as a supreme tactician, skillful problem-solver and guarantor of European stability.

Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld summed up Merkel's achievements in an interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT: "She is well-read, she is calm, she thinks ahead in a world where everyone is nervous, moody and short-sighted."

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Matthias Kamann

German Election: How Far-Right AfD Hit Its Ceiling

Germany's anti-immigrant far-right party has so far been unable to benefit from the decline of the Merkel's CDU party and find new voters.

BERLIN — When the results of the German federal election arrive Sunday, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party should have something to celebrate: the party, which has made nationalist, anti-immigration rhetoric a staple of its electoral program, could become the leading political party in the states of Thuringia and Saxony. In addition, the party is likely to elect several members of Parliament in the two states.

Security is also a major concern.

And yet, increasingly, we say that every AfD gain is relative. While the AfD may be making small gains in some German states, its share of the vote is poised to decrease compared to the last federal election in 2017. In nationwide polling surveys, the party has been stuck between 10-12% for months: While the ruling CDU hemorrhages voters as it seeks to build its future after the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the far-right doesn't seem to have been able to exploit the opportunity. Its modest advances are largely happening in places that were already party strongholds, like Saxony and Thuringia.

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Daniel Eckert

Merkel's Legacy: The Rise And Stall Of The German Economy

How have 16 years of Chancellor Angela Merkel changed Germany? The Chancellor accompanied the country's rise to near economic superpower status — and then progress stalled. On technology and beyond, Germany needs real reforms under Merkel's successor.

BERLIN — Germans are doing better than ever. By many standards, the economy broke records during the reign of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel: private households' financial assets have climbed to a peak; the number of jobs recorded a historic high before the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020; the GDP — the sum of all goods and services produced in a period — also reached an all-time high.

And still, while the economic balance sheet of Merkel's 16 years is outstanding if taken at face value, on closer inspection one thing catches the eye: against the backdrop of globalization, Europe's largest economy no longer has the clout it had at the beginning of the century. Germany has fallen behind in key sectors that will shape the future of the world, and even the competitiveness of its manufacturing industries shows unmistakable signs of fatigue.

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