The German political situation has passed desperate and is now approaching absurd. Moreover, this circus is likely to go on for months. Germany is looking for a way to form a stable government out of the warring parties that all got significant votes in the September elections. Nobody likes this sort of post-election wheeling and dealing, and it is not going well. For now the ringmaster is Germany’s long time boss, Chancellor Angela Markel, but the performers are just not cooperating. The first car full of coalition clowns has already backed out. The second is on stage.
Now in the center ring, political acrobat (and boss of the second largest party) Martin Schulz has proposed that Germany immediately take the lead in quickly elevating the European Union to become the “United States of Europe.” I am not making this up. It is perhaps flattering to the Trump Administration that he sounds like he wants Europe to be like the US, but that is not what he really wants. Like Tim the Tool Man on Home Improvement, Schulz just wants “more power.” He is after all, a former President of the European Parliament.
Schulz sounds nuts of course, but he needs a big splash to hide behind. He said after the elections that he would never negotiate with Merkel and now here he is, doing just that. Do not look behind the curtain, at the little man making all that smoke.
For that matter, if the US States had known how federalism would play out, beginning with the Civil War, with them becoming minor players, they probably never would have formed the United States of America. This huge loss of State power will not be lost on the EU member States, many of which already dislike the powers exercised by the present EU central government. That the EU should rule them is anathema to many.
But then Schulz is the leader of the Social Democrats and “Social” here does not refer to picnics. It refers to socialism. The only way he could get his party to authorize even talking to Merkel is by waving the big red flag.
This gambit is truly amusing given that Britain is leaving the EU and bookmakers are giving odds on which countries will be next, based on strong anti-EU poll results. The entire election fiasco is largely due to anti-EU popular sentiment. Even Germany is on the list, so Schulz’s gambit is a bit silly at this point, except to his loyal followers who are really his only target at this point.
Merkel publicly rejected Schulz’s proposition immediately. But then this is just the beginning of a protracted negotiation, so extreme positions are perhaps to be expected. Schulz’s socialists have no trouble finding extreme positions, but in this case they have no where to go.
Talks between Schulz and Merkel will probably go on for a month or two, because Markel is still running the country, sort of. If these talks are successful then Germany will have an internally divided government. If they fail then Merkel will likely form an unprecedented minority government, living from parliamentary vote to vote. Germany is weak either way. Once the minority government fails, which is very likely, there will finally be new elections, with populism possibly growing stronger in reaction to all this political silliness.
So sit back, enjoy the show for the next few months, and strike Germany off the list of countries that knows what it is doing. The EU is not about to become a United States, quite the contrary.