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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama, Hanover, Germany April 25, 2016.

    Will Next German Chancellor Abandon Merkel's Hardline Euro-Atlanticist Stance?

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    Angela Merkel's support among voters is continuing to fall, a new poll showing that half of Germans are doggedly opposed to the chancellor remaining in office beyond the 2017 elections. Russian Europe watchers comment on the poll results, and on whether there is any chance for Germany's next chancellor to soften Berlin's anti-Russian stance.

    Recent polling conducted on behalf of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper has revealed that exactly 50% of Germans are opposed to granting Chancellor Merkel a fourth term in office, calling into question whether the country's leader will even bother pursuing reelection.

    Support for Merkel has declined dramatically in the past year, with the public enraged with her government's open-door migrant policy, which has seen Germany accepting over two million people from the Middle East and North Africa in 2015 alone. 

    Many Germans are concerned about the country's inability to accommodate the migrants, and worse yet, by the fact that many newcomers don't seem capable of assimilating. German society has also been shocked by a string of violent attacks carried out by asylum seekers, with the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist group claiming responsibility for several of the attacks.

    Meanwhile, the number of Germans actively supporting Merkel is also falling. In similar polling conducted in November, 2015, 45% of respondents said that they would support Merkel's reelection. This month's poll saw that figure drop to 42%.

    Germans will vote in federal elections next August. If Merkel runs, she will have to announce her intention to do so in advance. It was expected that she would announce this spring, but problems associated with the migrant crisis have led her to put off any announcements. In May, German media reported that support for Merkel's electoral bloc – the Christian Democratic Union, and its junior ally, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, had fallen to its lowest point since 2012.

    The political situation has been further complicated by Merkel's disagreements with Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer; the latter has repeatedly criticized the chancellor's policy on immigration. Experts say that without Seehofer's support, Merkel will have a very hard time running for reelection.

    Women hold up placards that read Mrs. Merkel: Where are you? What are you saying? This worries us! during a protest in front of the Cologne Cathedral, Germany, January 5, 2016. Germans have been deeply shocked by a series of attacks, assaults, and other crimes committed by asylum-seekers taking advantage of Merkel's open-door immigration policy.
    © REUTERS/ Wolfgang Rattay
    Women hold up placards that read "Mrs. Merkel: Where are you? What are you saying? This worries us!" during a protest in front of the Cologne Cathedral, Germany, January 5, 2016. Germans have been deeply shocked by a series of attacks, assaults, and other crimes committed by asylum-seekers taking advantage of Merkel's open-door immigration policy.

    Meanwhile, according to German politics watchers, there are presently few figures currently capable of seriously challenging Merkel, both for the leadership of the CDU and for the chancellorship. 

    One name that has popped up repeatedly as Merkel's possible successor is 57-year-old Ursula von der Leyen, the German defense minister and a Merkel loyalist from the CDU, who has already hinted that she is prepared for more responsible work. Prior to her post at the Ministry of Defense, Leyen served as minister of labor and social affairs, and minister of family affairs and youth.

    Another possible candidate is Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current head of the German Foreign Ministry and member of the Social Democratic Party, the other of Germany's two major political parties, which since 2013 has been part of the current grand coalition cabinet. Steinmeier ran for chancellor in 2008, his party losing to Merkel and the CDU by double digits.

    Rounding out the shortlist of possible successors is German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, also from the CDU party. However, Schaeuble, 70, has faced health problems since 1990 after an assassination attempt which left him paralyzed. For this reason, analysts suggest health concerns will make it unlikely for him run to succeed Merkel.

    Commenting on the pre-election polling, and the possible implications of Germany's shifting political landscape for Berlin's relations with Moscow, experts speaking to the independent Russian online newspaper Svobodnaya Pressa suggested that while Merkel's possible successors aren't ideal, they may be preferable to the current chancellor, having demonstrated themselves to be more moderate.

    For his part, Alexei Fenenko, a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of International Security Studies, noted the polling "reflects the psychological effects of Germany society's sense of fatigue in the chancellor. Things aren't so good in Germany at the moment, and the country is clearly felt to be going in the wrong direction, one which a majority of Germans would not like."

    As far as Russia is concerned, Fenenko suggested that Merkel's rise to the chancellorship has always been seen as inopportune, "right from the very beginning of her reign in autumn 2005; she adheres and has always adhered to a consistent anti-Russian position" in international relations.

    The central difficulty, according to the analyst, is that "Merkel is a supporter of the idea that it is Germany's natural role to become the leader of Eastern Europe (especially of Poland and the Baltic states, and Ukraine), and to drive the economic development of these countries," in accordance with German interests, of course. 

    Because these countries' political elites are disposed to being anti-Russian, Merkel, effectively, "is turning Germany into the leader of an anti-Russian bloc."

    As for the question of which of the country's political heavyweights could actually challenge Merkel for the chancellorship, Fenenko noted that in his view, the most likely figures include Horst Seehofer and Frank-Walter Steinmeier. 

    "From Moscow's perspective these aren't ideal candidates; unfortunately, in Germany today there are no politicians like [former Chancellor] Gerhard Schroeder, who drove a sharply anti-Atlanticist line. But Seehofer and Steinmeier are preferable at least because they have a more moderate position [toward Russia] than Merkel does."

    "Of course, they too are Euro-Atlanticists, and believe that an American presence in Germany is a good thing. But at the same time, they believe that it is necessary to build constructive relations with Russia. Merkel, meanwhile, considers the main goal to be to follow in the footsteps of US policy."

    In any case, the political analyst suggested that Russia is watching the political landscape in Germany very closely, since good relations with the country are "vital." There are several reasons for this.

    "Firstly, because Washington is now actively working to turn Germany into a stronghold of anti-Russian influence – trying to swing Berlin against Moscow. This means that we will have to encounter a Germany that is strengthened not only in economic and political terms, but perhaps militarily as well. Moreover, Germany itself will be reinforced by Poland, the Baltics and Ukraine. For us this is a pretty dangerous situation."

    German army tanks line up during the course of the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, June 2015. The German military has seen an increase in deployments for exercises in Eastern Europe and on Russia's borders since the start of the Ukrainian crisis in February 2014.
    © AP Photo/ Alik Keplicz
    German army tanks line up during the course of the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, June 2015. The German military has seen an increase in deployments for exercises in Eastern Europe and on Russia's borders since the start of the Ukrainian crisis in February 2014.

    Furthermore, Fenenko noted, "Germany has always been important to Russia as a kind of bridge – a point of contact between Russia, the US and the rest of the West. If we completely lose Germany – we will lose an influential international mediator. And that's not even mentioning economic losses. Germany is important to us as a priority trade partner."

    Unfortunately, the analyst suggested that as far as the military sphere is concerned, Washington's efforts to reanimate the tried-and-tested strategy of antagonizing Berlin against Moscow have a serious chance of succeeding. "There is a chance that this strategy will succeed if Germany continues to be led by politicians like Angela Merkel." 

    The NATO mini-summit in Hannover this past April is proof, according to Fenenko, that Washington is trying to use German forces to 'contain' Russia in the Baltics, in Poland, and even Ukraine.

    "We are not talking about a clash on a scale seen during the Second World War. But pushing Moscow and Berlin into local conflicts, in places like Transnistria or Ukraine, is the dearest wish of US policymakers," the analyst emphasized.

    For his part, political scientist Sergei Markov, director of the Moscow-based Institute of Political Studies, suggested that Chancellor Merkel's anti-Russian sanctions policy may be among the most serious mistakes of her political career, alongside her migrant policy.

    "Moscow remains a strategic partner for Berlin, and German business has always spoken out to the effect that the rupture in trade relations with Russia would inevitably lead Germany to disaster. In general, German public opinion does not consider Berlin to have a correct policy line in Ukraine, and considers the confrontation with Russia to be overblown and contrived."

    At the same time, however, Markov emphasized that Merkel still has several trump cards up her sleeve. "First and foremost, Germany is one of the few countries in the world which has shown sustained economic growth –something especially notable against the background of the decline of other European economies. Moreover, it was under Merkel that Germany has significantly strengthened its position in the EU – so much so that politicians have begun calling today's Europe 'the Fourth Reich'."

     "I think that if she banks on these positives, Merkel will not only be able to put forward her candidacy for the chancellorship, but have good chances to win," the analyst noted, adding that for Russia, "this would be bad."

    "Germany has a powerful economy, it is the leader of the EU, and it has tremendous influence in Eastern Europe. Good relations with Berlin would allow Moscow to improve relations with a good dozen other European countries."

    As for the question of why exactly Chancellor Merkel has taken an anti-Russian stance – that is a separate question entirely, Markov noted. Theories range from wild accusations that she is an agent of US intelligence services, to theories that she is looking to build a German political and economic empire in Eastern Europe, to theories that she has reached an agreement with influential international circles allowing pro-German politicians to take key posts in the European Commission in exchange for an anti-Russian position.

    "Whichever of these theories is the truth, it does not change the alignment of forces in the Moscow-Berlin relationship, unfortunately," the analyst concluded.

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    polling, opinion poll, policy, elections, geopolitics, European Union, Angela Merkel, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany, Europe, United States, Russia
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    • Marc Nonnenkamp
      Perhaps, but unlikely. The major parties (CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and Greens) all support the same basic policies in place since 1949. The current dissatisfaction with the Federal Chancellor is due primarily to the very high levels of immigration since the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa..........................and one could repeat this analysis for pretty much all of Europe (not merely Germany).
    • avatar
      jas
      I hope that 50% become 70%. Germany and possibly Europe won't survive any lack of action and determination form the people. They are fighting for their lives and they had better act like it.
    • avatar
      Marques rouges
      German politics are in the hands of the Anglo-Jewish alliance since WWII. Merkel has been selected because she was the first to agree to send German forces to support the US invasions, Afghanistan at this time.
      In this light it's obvious that there are no independent politicians to succeed her, as any potential candidate would have been picked out and marginalized years before he could have reached this level in politics.
    • Jammy
      Merkel is doing just what she is being told to do by the US occupation forces that are spread out over Europe like a cancer and the next leader the bankers pick for Germany will do just the same as her or he/she won't get the job.

      Stop thinking that you live in a democracy, you don't and if you did then we would not have masses of immigrants being shipped in to Europe to undermind your wages and people like Tony Blair and his 9/11 war crime lies would had been made to pay by now.

      Money now dictates everything that happens and the bankers have lots more of that because they can print it for free but you don't get to vote for a new bank manager so what you are seeing is just a puppet show with the same string pullers.
    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      The plan to implement hegemonic power tentacles across the globe that are immune to the will of the people is failing badly and by next year will collapse completely.

      Once the 'Hitlerites' have been sent packing and the money presses stop churning the tentacles will withdraw and the monster will creep back into the darkness.

      This whole master plan to destroy the living is doomed to fail its mear existence is primarily based on the US Dollar being able to continue printing unabated to pay the incentives and bribes which amount to Trillions annually.

      What we are seeing today is the last ditch desperate cynical effort to sustain 'Hegemony' and its grip on the power and the wealth of the world.
      In the past when that juncture had been reached a world war was started to regenerate and redistribute the worlds wealth.

      Because of nuclear power balance being at least even if not in Russia's favour that option was replaced by what we have seen over the last decade or so.

      How it will pan out once the mighty dollar has been curbed and they must cooperate and coexist will be up to the new generations it will be there world and they can start afresh with a new easel and brushes and paint there own master pieces.
    • avatar
      Syria Forever
      Personal I don't believe Merkel will run again. Last meeting of the parasites (Bilderberger) in Germany shows opposite. Next to Rothschild was Ursula von der Leyen. She will be the next "Leader" of Germany. Merkel? UNO I guess..?
      And if somebody really believe Obama or any other creatures tells Merkel what to do is wrong, very wrong. Merkel is the "Boss" of the club. She always stands in the middle, no matter which kind of meeting the parasites running. Best to see during the last G7-meeting.
      The people in Europe have one choice. Break down the whole system. Destroy every kind of political structure including the media-center of the NATO-crime syndicates.
      There is no way to repair Europe, there is only the way of a new beginning. After that? Parasites like Merkel, as well the rest of those creatures, will find themselves in dungeons where they belong too.
      Let's see what the Europeans will do, but if they go on like now Europe will sink in blood.
    • Mikhas
      That depend on how much incriminating stuff CIA has got against that candidate from the STASI archives which they are in 100% control of. In Merkel and her fathers case that is a lot to say the least.

      But ultimately it boils down to Germany still being occupied by the US since 70 years already nothing will change unless Germany breaks free and become an independent country.
    • avatar
      Syria Foreverin reply toMarc Nonnenkamp(Show commentHide comment)
      Marc Nonnenkamp, CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP, Green.. no matter, they are all the same criminals. Germans will have to learn to take responsibility. In the moment Germany is a flock of cows. No vision, no future, no nothing..
    • avatar
      Syria Foreverin reply toMikhas(Show commentHide comment)
      Mikhas, 1st there has to be a "Germany", because there is not. Why do you think Germany doesn't have a constitution only a so called "Grundgesetz"? Because there is no "Germany". The country call itself Germany does not exist.
    • Marc Nonnenkampin reply toSyria Forever(Show commentHide comment)
      Syria Forever, your comment about the electorate in Germany can be applied to most countries around the entire world. In the final analysis, most voters vote for continuity (stability) and for their short term pocketbooks - pensions, medical benefits, transfer payments, schools, police, fire protection, bond issues to fund infrastructure and the like. This is why things are rapidly approaching the breaking point worldwide. The real issues of over spending, debt, unfunded liabilities (for the same "benefits" listed above) and financial derivatives (global banking gone mad) are not being addressed. And then of course there is the issue of armed global conflict, which the power elite promotes to expand their power and their wealth. Most politicians (certainly those who stay in office) are on the take, which means little or no real change.
    • avatar
      Syria Foreverin reply toMarc Nonnenkamp(Show commentHide comment)
      Marc Nonnenkamp, you are right, but here we talk about Germany. Of course it is the same story in all countries of the NATO-crime syndicates.
      Breaking point, I think that is the point. I strongly believe the system of slavery we are in will break. I also believe religions will shatter all up front the Temple in Rome, the biggest crime organization on our globe involved in every crime you can imaging and more.
      As I already wrote a couple of times I believe a full disclosure is coming and I also believe Russia will be the first country to come forward with the trues, because nothing, absolute nothing the majority of people believe is the trues is even close to it.
      Have a good day Marc.
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