Angela Merkel Wants to Rewind Rather Than Reverse
Photo by: Tobias Kleinschmidt
A year ago at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis a piece of graffiti appeared on the wall of an autobahn exit in west Berlin’s wealthy Grunewald district. Playing on German chancellor Angela Merkel’s mantra Wir schaffen das (we can do it), it warned: Merkel schafft uns ab (Merkel is undoing us). Within days, the message had been painted over. Then it was back and was painted over again.
The graffiti artist is persistent. The four words are back again. And now they are the battle cry of the opposition that has formed against Ms Merkel, not just at the fringes of the political spectrum, but also within her own party, the conservative CDU.
The chancellor is under enormous pressure, both inside Germany and from its foreign partners, over her decision to open the country to refugees, resulting in an inflow of more than 1.1m in 2015 alone. Her harshest critics are the rightwing populists of theAlternative for Germany (AfD).
It has taken four successive defeats for the CDU in regional elections this year for Ms Merkel to shift her position. After last weekend’s election in Berlin, in which her party finished second behind the Social Democrats, she took her share of responsibility for the CDU’s losses. Once a genuinely “popular” party that could command at least 40 per cent of the vote, the CDU now struggles to reach 20 per cent in some German regions.