Two thoughts about Angela Merkel’s weekend of political debacle: Her government’s shifts and pivots in an effort to avoid defeat in a regional election override in importance the loss itself. And they leave Germany’s governing coalition with a fracture in credibility affecting the country’s international role and notions of its leadership in Europe.Thus does John Vinocur start his International Herald Tribune article on Germany's "election hangover".
…the government effectively turned its back on Mrs. Merkel’s supposed virtues of loyalty, resolve and calm as its dominant campaign message.Update: Some voices in Germany are growing louder in portraying the Merkel government’s inaction as a disaster
Instead, it appeared to pander to the electorate’s most hypersensitive instincts…
Across party lines, and before the voting, the political class picked up on the deepest ramifications of a contradictory-looking attempt by the government in Berlin to both spook voters and coddle their fears.
Patrick Adenauer, grandson of postwar Germany’s first chancellor and head of the Association of Family Enterprise — Christian Democrat roots don’t go deeper — told Handelsblatt, the newspaper: “The German reactions to the events in Libya and Japan appear hysterical on one hand, and on the other without any substantive basis.”
Hans-Ulrich Klose, the man Mrs. Merkel named last year as special coordinator for German-American relations (he has since left the post because of illness in his family), maintained that the situation damaged Germany’s reputation in Europe. The Social Democrat told me in a conversation that the election campaign’s pirouettes “raised the issue of our reliability. Germany has lost credibility.”
…Here was the essence of the problem that the German government, as Europe’s de facto leader, created for itself in a month of openly subordinating to very risky domestic political considerations what were thought to be its international credo and sense of responsibility.
For some, it had been caught out acting far beyond enlightened self-interest and, unpredictably, abandoning principles.