Critics of Germany’s actions in the eurozone debt and banking crisis often berate Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrat chancellor, for lacking a “vision” for Europe. Not me. I am with Helmut Schmidt, West Germany’s plain-spoken Social Democrat chancellor from 1974 to 1982, who once said that people who have visions should go and see a doctor.
What is the view of Mario Monti, the distinguished former European Union commissioner, who worked closely with Merkel during his 17-month spell as Italy’s prime minister from November 2011 until last April? Monti now chairs a committee on promoting a united Europe at the Berggruen Institute on Governance, a non-partisan think-tank headquartered in California. I contacted him earlier this week in Milan, and as usual his thoughts were perceptive and full of common sense (and quite long sentences). Read more
By Luisa Frey
♦ Twenty-three years after German reunification, a report shows that east-west migration is fizzling out. As the socio-economic differences become smaller, investors are pumping capital into the ex-communist east, writes the FT’s Stefan Wagstyl.
♦ Slovenia – which cruised to the EU as the wealthiest of the 10 ex-communist members – is now struggling to avoid a eurozone bailout.
♦ In the US, inequality is moving to the front line of politics. The rich-poor gap has long been an issue, but in post-crisis times it seems more difficult to raise hopes of upward mobility.
♦ “Keeping China moving will keep its leaders busy,” comments the FT’s David Pilling. Xi Jinping – “the world’s most powerful leader” – has nine years left at the helm of an economy that could be the world’s biggest by 2020.
♦ In post-revolutionary times, Arab countries are dealing with the task of rewriting history and figuring out how to teach it. Egypt, Lybia and Tunisia are removing from school textbooks the praise they once heaped on former dictators, writes The Economist.
♦ A video report from the Wall Street Journal follows citizens whose lives were upended by the conflict across Syria’s northern border. “I always try to make my students forget what they saw in Syria”, says a teacher in a refugee camp in Turkey. Read more
By Luisa Frey
♦ Women are leading the revolution in Chile, writes the FT’s Benedict Mander. Michelle Bachelet and Evelyn Matthei, who will face each other in the second round of presidential elections, and young communist Camila Vallejo are good examples.
♦ As corruption scandals are revealed in Malawi, even the president has admitted that she does not know where the money has gone.
♦ In Libya, the increasingly violent rivalries between the militias that overthrew the Gaddafi regime are rendering the elected government even more powerless.
♦ “How is Hamid Karzai still standing?” asks the New York Times. As the deadline for registering candidates for next year’s presidential election approaches, Afghanistan’s future seems to depend on the fraught internal family politics of the Karzais.
♦ The New York Times describes how a law from 1938, which allowed Nazis to seize thousands of artworks seen as un-German or Jewish, now makes their recovery difficult.
♦ The Guardian says walls are being built to divide people from their neighbours around the world - from a luxury community in Brazil to barriers along the US/Mexico border and walls that separate ethnic groups in Homs, Syria. Read more
It is doubtless just an unfortunate coincidence. But the US Treasury’s criticism of German economic policy seems peculiarly crass and ill-timed – given two other recent developments: the revelations about US bugging of the German chancellor’s phone and America’s own debt-ceiling dramas.
The American suggestion that Germany’s persistent current account surplus is a danger to the eurozone and thus to the world economy has the backing of many eminent economists. But it also invites certain rather obvious responses: Read more
If the Americans really have been tapping Angela Merkel’s phone, perhaps they can pass some political tips onto the White House. For Barack Obama, in common with most other western leaders, would dearly love to learn the secret of the German chancellor’s success.
Just consider some comparative approval ratings. Mr Obama currently hovers somewhere in the mid-40s. In Britain, David Cameron hit 37% after a successful party conference and has almost certainly sunk back a little after a bad week, in which he was bested over high energy costs by Labour’s Ed Miliband. Meanwhile, bringing up the rear is Francois Hollande, whose approval rating in France is down at a pathetic 23%. By contrast, the German chancellor has a personal approval rating of around 70%. Read more
Merkel's love for her mobile began early on (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Gaining access to the personal communications of the leader of any country would be a highly valued prize for an intelligence agency.
But accessing chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, as Germany strongly suspects the US has done, was a coup indeed. Read more
This is a map, courtesy of the Berlin returning officer’s website, of the constituency votes in Berlin. Blue is the Christian Democratic Union of Angela Merkel and purple represents the Left party, which was formed from the remnants of the communist SED that ruled East Germany as well as leftwing defectors from the centre-left SPD, shown in red. (The Greens are, um, green.) Read more
By Gideon Rachman
When pundits analyse Angela Merkel’s political success, they tend to fall back on a few well-worn ideas. The German chancellor is said to be a cautious pragmatist, a scientist who proceeds through trial-and-error, a reassuring mother-figure, a natural politician with an instinctive rapport with voters. All these things are true. But they miss out one vital element. Ms Merkel is also a political visionary. In the midst of a sometimes terrifying currency crisis, she has redefined Germany’s relationship with the EU – on a new and more sustainable basis.
The first official German election results are in and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats enjoyed a huge swing in the polls, but remain five seats short of achieving the first absolute majority since 1957.
That fires the starting gun for coalition talks, raising some interesting questions, especially after the chancellor’s existing coalition partner, the liberal Free Democratic Party, has crashed from its best-ever election result in 2009 to parliamentary annihilation, failing to reach the five per cent threshold. Read more
Philipp Rösler (Getty)
Four years ago your correspondent was treading the streets of Friedrichshain in east Berlin on German election day when an extraordinary number of locals told me they had voted for Germay’s pro-business Free Democratic Party. Read more