tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV February 20, 2016 2:00pm-2:31pm PST
>> this week on "quadriga," alone in europe, end of the merkel era? more and more european countries are lining up against angela merkel's refugee policies. even germany's longtime ally france is turning away and doesn't want to take in any more refugees than it has already agreed to. several east european countries
also opposed to merkel's policies. they'd like to shut down the ball con route that many refugees use. opposition in germany is growing too. the christian socialists complain about what they call a state of lawlessness. can the chancellor survive this challenge or is this the end of the merkel era in coming to you from berlin, "quadriga," the international debate. your host this week, peter craven. peter: a warm welcome indeed. coming to you from the heart of the german capital. this week it's all about the german chancellor, angela merkel, she has her back against the wall, many people are saying she's more isolated than ever before , in germany and in europe as well. that's the reason why the question we're asking this week is, is it the end of the merkel era. to answer that question, i have three excellent guests with me in the studio, let me introduce to you, beginning with alan posener, a regular commentator
"die e berlin-based daily welt." he says merkel is paying the bill for her arrogance. a warm welcome also to constanze stelzenmuller who normally works out of washington where she's an expert on foreign and security policy at the brookings institution think tank. this is not the end of merkel, constanze argues but to win over germany and its neighbors she'll have to start making big compromises. and greetings to anna, with another berlin paper, "der tagesspiegel: and also writes regularly for the "new york times." she says angela merkel used to stand for a strong middle ground in politic bus now we see a time of division. let's begin with you, anna. i mentioned you wright for "the new york times" and your most recent piece was much quoted,
most talked about. controversial, i might say. the end of the merkel era. no question mark, interestingly. what was your message? anna: i didn't make the headline, evidently. but how i view it is, i was focusing first of all on the german side of the problem, that i think we already have seen the end of an era because germany in the past decade has been -- has seen a movement, a trend toward the middle, both politically and in society and merkel was the epitome of this movement, being a woman, being an eastern german, in her person, everything came together like all the parts of german society seemed to grow together and do like this really cozy, huddle thing in the middle of society. and i think this has ended. and merkel as a symbol is facing the problems of this new
diversion and the forces we see at work in germany now. per: the md has changed if the germans have fallen out of love, what has made the atmosphere so sour? anna: i think what i underestimated myself and what merkel maybe has underestimated is that the fear that is growing out of the influx of migrants and refugees we see currently in germany and maybe she, like i, thought that the middle was stronger, that we would be able to welcome those people in a different way and it seems like in the last summer and now we see that in germany, lots of historic fear, the fear of islam that's been at work in germany before and these voices have
found one voice and then -- and then a new party, and this is changing things around in germany. peter: i got the sense that behind the scenes here in berlin more and more people are talking about the demise of angela merkel as a real propross tissue prospect. is that the sense you get as well? alan: i get the sense that people are talking about it but don't quite dare to go there. but it's wishful thinking. there's no one who could take her place. that's the problem. what you said is not quite true, is it? that merkel represented the cozy middle ground. the point was, there was no alternative to her then and no one now. one reason is that we have a party in parliament, the so-called left party, which refuses to govern, which makes it impossible to form a left-wing alternative to the chancellor, so she's like the
sun in the middle and every other party except the left wing party wants a coalition with her. that hasn't changed that situation hasn't changed. there is still no alternative, politically, no personal alternative, there's no one to take her place. that's not something i think is good, it's a fact. peter: my personal response to that is, for the last 10 years, merkel has given germans precisely what they wanted. constanze: distressingly, i am on record with a 2005 op-ed predicting a maximum of two years rule for merkel and it had a title which i indeed suggested, which was "dead woman walking." i believe this was not taken well by the chancellory. that tells you how good my predictions are. but i tend to agree with anna. and perhaps a new point which is let's not forget that merkel both recognized a tremendous
amount of social change in germany, which was that there was a large camp of democrats which were sick and tired of old white men telling them there should be no gay marriage and there were a lot of gays in the christian democratic camp. and there were a lot of people say, we do need a more liberal immigration policy and so on. she recognized this and moved it forward and got other people to do this as well. i think we ought to be grateful for that. this is -- there's a swing of a pendulum happening now with the eernal pressures, forces coming to bear on germany but i think we were very lucky to have had her for as long as we did because i don't see any other politician having done, achieved what she did. also like alan, think there's no replacement for her right now. alan: the point about this new
party, the a.f.d., is it is in opposition basically, although the leader of this party is a woman, it is a leader of the -- it is a party of the losers, of the old white men who feel they're not represented. and it's about much more than just immigration. it's about they don't want germany to modernize. they're sick and tired of the whole system. this is the real danger of this party. not the fact that they mobilized xenophobea and so on, anti-muslim feelings, that's bad enough. but the worst thing is they're mobilizing a general distrust of democracy and they're being helped, by the way, by people in moscow and so on but that's another topic altogether who want to use them as a lever to destroy the european union. it's about much more than immigration.
constanze: i think the big question is, are they picking up a mood that's already been there or is the mood growing and right now we see -- anna: right now we see the polls for the f.d. grow every weekend and they're now at 17, i think, which is scary. but this is just like a glimpse of the moment or is this something, is there a new movement? are there more people going into or moving toward that position? as you said, older white men, we know that they're the biggest group that's supporting it. if it's limited to this spectrum, the movement or the trend is limited. but that makes it hard to make predictions really. peter: you two were engaging in anna sauerbrey je la merkel fan club. before the cameras. one of the words a lot of
commentators have been using re in germany -- the suggestion is merkel has not given people an opportunity to have a full and proper say on the refugee crisis and other matters too, she leaves people no chose and no voice. alan: you asking me? peter: i am. alan: the parties were elected, the parties that form her coalition were elected by a margin of 60% or 70%. they still have other 60% approval ratings. this is what i'm getting at. the idea that parliamentary democracy somehow doesn't represent the people, the demonstrations saying we are the people, there was a -- peter: we heard about a bavarian ally, talking about her period in office as a reign of injustice. alan: he's not quite wrong.
she does respond to popular moods, angela merkel she can and she's good for some surprises but the fact is, the present situation where we're not controling our borders, where asylum seekers are coming in, is not, it's not lawful. in fact, it's in contradiction to the constitution. he's right there. the question is, what to do about it? constanze: i would say that a lot of her competitors are perfectly cape obviously self-immas cuelation and they don't need help from her. that's one of the tragedies of the current german political scenery. but i also think frankly, and you've said this before, this lawlessness talk is going a bit too far. we candice agrow on policy but to suggest that there is, you know, that there are grounds you know, for suggesting that her whole regime is illegal, i think is hysteria, i do. i think it's irresponsible to use language like this. it just, it makes him -- i think
it pushes him to, you know, beyond the pale of respectable debate. anna: it is extremely cheap too. he's part of the great coalition he doesn't have an office but he's head of one of the three parties that form this great coalition so he could have done something. peter: it must be frustrating for merkel to see him making these comments in this way , my guess. anyway, we'll come back to you in a second, constanze. we're talking about, rightly or wrongly about the possible demise of angela merkel, one thing we have learned from her long career in office, she has immense staying power and perhaps she's not as isolated as it seems. >> angela merkel's political career is far from over. she has the support of a number of european states that back her policy on refugees. eastern european countries also realize that this situation would be much more difficult to
resolve without merkel. in germany, she's a political force to be reckoned with. her poll numbers have fallen but they're now about the same as you'd see for any other western politician who had been in office for 10 years dealing with all kinds of crises. and her christian democrats are still the country's strongest political party. lots ofiermans have volunteered their time to help the refugees. even germany's opposition party support merkel's policies. in what other country would that happen? so the chancellor will stay right where she is, at least for the time being. peter: constanze, another take on the myth of merkel, she's playing a long game a long game she will win. do you buy into that? constanze: i would -- i can't look into the mind of the chancellor. what i do know, though, is that germany's constitutional culture
and its prophecies severely disapprove and the constitutional court has made it plain et that it severely disapproves of attempts to unhorse the chancellor before his or her time. that's mostly why i think that's not going to happen unless her own party decides to withdraw their support and i don't see that happening because they don't have a viable alternative. anybody who complains about the weakness of other politicians in germany shouldn't blame the chancellor for that. that's their problem. i do think that all the parties in germany have been exceedingly bad at grooming new generations. it's one of the weaknesses of the c.d.u. and the others that they don't do this well. but that said, i think a far larger problem is the lack of support for the chancellor's policies and there you can blame her. peter: the picy on the refugee
crisis, 0of t germe germa people believe she no longer has the situation under control. constanze: sure. we saw in the munich security conference with the french prime minister say, we're tpwhot following you on this. we'll take what we promised but not one refugee more. and i think that that is -- that blame has to be laid at the door of the chancellory because this government, i think, is famously inept at persuading other governments in europe that it is in their interest to follow the germans. there are exceptions, and the most important one is the sanctions policy where i think we can be grateful for strong german leadership. otherwise, i would say the record is middling. anna: i think much of the unrest we see within the christian democratic party is due to special situations, we have three important federal state leches coming up in march. so --
peter: there are genuine problems to be solved. there's an influx of refugees of 1.1 million so far this year. we're told it's likely to be at least 500,000 next year. that's a make crisis. why hasn't the chancellor changed course? why hasn't germany changed course the way the swedes and austrians and other who was taken in many, many refugees. anna: we have changed course. we haven't shut the border. peter: one leading german newspaper said, germany has the last open door in the western world. anna: it's true we haven't set up fences on the bavarian border but in all other respects we, with the help of the social democrats and even the support of the green party, we have done a lot. we have declared secure country, and we will probably do so a few more. that's just one element. we are working on getting the
families of the refugees who are already here to germany. the policy is much more restricted now or will be whenever this is set into law. so there are many small steps which sum up to a change of course in merkel's policy. peter: why do 80% -- i'm often surrounded by liberal, rational, pragmatic, confident, forward looking journalists like yourselves and i know that there are rabid crowds of people out there on the streets, 80% of the germans who still believe that merkel does not have the situation under control. it doesn't fit together. constanze: we're also saying she's got a problem. but i think we all three agree, perhaps all four, that we, on the point of principle, she's right. and you can't just pull up the drawbridges and assume in an interdependent globalized world that the germans can trade with
themselves and otherwise, you know, telephoner that friends across the border. that's ludicrous. peter: let's come back to this point, alan, you're an anglo german, you will of course be aware of the fact that margaret thatcher used to talk about there is no alternative, it was one of her slogans for talking up her own leadership. i'm troubled by the fact that a consensus among you guys that somehow a country like germany, with all its economic and political and social resources, cannot come up with a decent opposition and decent opposition figure, it worries me? alan: worries me too. what can i say. this has to do with the numbers in parliament. it has to do with the fact that we have a left wing party, a radical left wing party incapable of governing and cannot form a coalition, therefore there is no left wing, left-right divide and change of government and the only --
everyone just wants to get into bed with angela merkel, right. peter: this is still the case? alan: of course it's still the case because there is no alternative. if 80% of the germans say she hasn't got, you know, the thing under control, of course she hasn't, who does? does obama have it under control? does mr. putin have it under control? no, they don't. this is beyond controlling. something you have to manage as it goes on system of you know, but this is one of the things that is rather worrying. the germans believe that politics can be controlled and if it isn't controlled, it starts to go on the barricades. s the german hysteria people in the rest of europe are worried about. you have to sometimes live with situations you expect control nd deal with them. constanze: for the record, there are some deeply unimpressive opposition figures in the rest of europe, starting with the
u.k. peter: talking about the rest of europe, let's go to france. let's see what's happening there at the moment. >> for decades, germany and france worked together as the driving force behind european unity. france is concerned about germany's economic clout but during the financial crisis, paris supported berlin's demands for drastic austerity measures. at the summit a year ago, merkel and french president hollande worked together to bring peace to ukraine. the french prime minister said recently his country will not take in more than the 30,000 refugees it has already promised to help. that appears to be a direct challenge to chancellor merkel's policy of working toward an equitable distribution of refugees among e.u. countries. are relations between france and
germany cooling off? if so, what will that mean for europe? peter: you're shaking your head vehemently. constanze: i'm shaking my head because that was a very rcastic rendition of "le marseilles," which wouldn't please our french friends. peter: one newspaper called this a stab in the back. constanze: that's a german term which has a historical connotation that i think we should avoid. peter: accusations of recrimination. constanze: anything like that is , in itself a failure of diplomacy. if a french prime minister feels it behooves him to get up in munich and say, forget that -- peter: is it a negotiating position? constanze: i take him seriously and it means the chancellory has
failed egregiously. and that means the relationship is bad and obviously that this kind of thing will spill other into other parts of the relationship. so that's public embarrassment. that said, you know, i think we -- it's not as though the french have any great alternative ideas. let's be honest. peter: i am more -- more concerned than you are because the french-german tandem has been at the heart of everything in europe. the tandem looks broken. that has to be a huge problem. is europe wobbling as a construction? anna: historical things do play into the current situation in europe. the french-german axis of of course has a historic connotation.
there's a lot of romance woven around this axis. and i'm not sure whether this allows us to have a clear and pragmatic view. i think this is a problem, of course it is a problem for merkel but not because it's france that's missing out on supporting her but because she doesn't have any alternative allies at the moment. but if she found them if she found them, for example, in northern europe or in the netherlands or even in poland, if she arrives at an agreement with poland and the paltic states why not form different coalitions. peter: is this the future of europe? alan: definitely. the french tandem is indeed dead. it was a myth, has been a myth for the past 10 years. one of its greatest product the euro, is something -- a mixed blessing, to say the least.
and yes, europe needs to be put on a stronger foundation and it can't be the old empire of sharl maine. charlemain. -- of the yeern europeans are merkel's last great hope for the refugee crisis. what they're probably going to do is cut off the border to the balkans that will mean virtually no refugees will arrive here. ms. merkel will complain about it but she'll be on her phone say, keep that fence, keep it. nstanze: you do admit that these people are a did bifflet to work with right now? i mean -- i, like you, believe that germany shouldn't even attempt to run the show in
europe and that this is bound to go badly but the reality is we have got some difficult maybes out there right now and that's, you know, i think we have to acknowledge that. and there are some positions we would probably sit here and say, they're wrong on this. alan: i don't think they're wrong on this. if germany always has deals with russia over their heads, what can we expect? constanze: they don't always. peter: i have to break this up. is this the end of the merkel era? constanze: yes. anna: yes it is. alan: in germany no, the rest of europe, yes. peter: if you've enjoyed this as much as i have, come back for our next show. bye-bye. d"b"bú!!!!úúúúúúúñña
damien: hello and a very warm welcome to this week's "focus on europe," where we go behind the big headlines to give you an insight into the lives of real europeans. i am damien mcguinness. thanks very much for joining us. on the programme today -- the refugees of sweden, who are living in a ski resort. the young people of france, enlisting to fight terror. and the danish town that has a beef with pork. one of the most explosivsu