tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV November 23, 2017 7:00pm-7:31pm PST
functioning government. the question is, merkel under pressure, how stable is germany? to discuss that, i'm joined by three observers of german politics. matthew karnitschnig, politico's chief europe correspondent, he says germany will remain stable with or without merkel. what this crisis shows is how much or germany's democracy has become. also with us is judy dempsey, senior fellow at carnegie europe. judy believes that germany is europe's newest problblem. the collapse of coalition talks in berlin will have serious repercussions. and a warm welcome to anna sauerbrey, reporter with berlin's der tagesspiegel newspaper and contributing writer for the "new york times." anna says that germany is not turning into -- just as well, but there is a new disdain for
compromise in this country that is worrying. thank you all for being with me here today in the "quadriga" studio. anna, i've just referred to the "new york times." the "new york times" has referred to germany's crisis. how do you assess the gravity of the crisis? anna: in american terms, there are still enough adults in germany to manage this crisis. i don't think it goes very deep. what i'm worried about is the political culture. does the political culture and disdain for compromise still fit with the political system that is based on compromise? in the midterm, i am worried. judy: it is very interesting that short termism has come to categorize german politics even though merkel has been in power 12 years.
even during the start of the coalition talks, everyone was trying to get to the cameras, but i think anna is right. the ididea of a culture of consensus and compromise is giving way to perhaps political opportunism. matthew: i actually disagree that that is a bad thing. i think it is happening, but it could be a good thing. there are a lot of people over the past eight years, 12 years, that have said these big parties in germany have become too similar to one another. it is difficult to distinguish between the social democrats and merkel's party, the christian democrats. what we saw over the weekend is there's a party that looked at this potential coalition and came to the conclusion that they couldn't continue with it. if you take the leader of the free democrats at his word, and i have no reason not to, so i think this kind of soul-searching about the future
might be a little overdone. now i have to think out-of-the-box. if you live here, you get used to thihis consensus. over the last couple of years, leaving aside the foreign policy, the domestic agenda was minimal. ande was a kind of fatigue, the voters werere wonondering, t is governing about now? what can the various political parties offer us? maybe this explains some of the support for the far right wing. peter: i'm surprised how sanguine you all are about the situation. wordse down a list of being used by your fellow journalist to describe the crisis. gridlock, deadlock, meltdown, political limbo. matthew, you seem to be
suggesting it is an opportunity for germany to move on to a higher level of mature democracy. matthew: this also means germany is becoming a normal country. if you look around europe at the length of time it takes many countries to form a government, you don't need to go to the length of belgium, which took over a year, but it is not out of the ordinary to have a minority government. if you look at denmark, they have a long tradition of that. just because germany has been dominated by these two parties since world war ii doesn't mean that democracy is falling apart. you now have more voices in the mix. you've got the far right in the mix and people can think about that what they will. you also have the liberals coming back into the bundestag. we've seen that in the first sessions over the past several weeks. it is more interesting. it is real debate. you can tell the difference
between angela merkel on the one hand and somebody -- peter: she hasn't been saying much the last couple days. it was boring for years. they had a contract and they and hadwent about it the bullet point list. but when you look at why he blew off those coalition talks, the most contested issue was the refugee policy. apparently the greens really came around and gave the sdp and the christian social union very much. i don't think he really made it about issues. it was about strategy. that is what is depressing about it, that he would not take on the responsibility to form a
government just so that sdp gets a couple of percentage points in the next elections. peter: let's go back a little bit in time. this all began with the collapse of those coalition talks we mentioned. perhaps they were doomed from the start. it was never going to be easy to square the circle and bring together four parties with different political cultures. let's look at how the talks evolved. >> the german parliamentary association behind the reichstag. the eyes of germany have been focused on its balcony, and reading lips and thoughts had become a natatnal sport.t. >> from the initial talks, , i'e got the impression there is a willingness to find common ground. >> at some point, everyone had to get down to business. >> shooting down senseless deadlines isis not a compromise. >> i canan't shshake the suspicn
that these gentlemen have no desire to negotiate constructively and successfully. >> the frustration brewed, as did the wariness. >> if i just fall over from exhaustion, there's no point in continuing. >> is the idea of a three-way coalition gone with the wind? ♪ peter: you are shaking your head. was how initial comment germany is perceived from outside. i think what is happening in germany is extremely bad for the european union. the leader waiting for angela merkel to deliver has been the president of france. emmanuel macron has given major speeches about europe. that has been linked. peter: one of those speeches came two days after the german elections. judy: very important, because
a big trademerkel deal and joint venture deal, but need theying you german relationship to be much tighter, and he said, angela, give me your thoughts about europe. angela merkel has never given a serious speech about europe. macron is waiting. if you think merkel's are options are limited, his options are limited. matthew: i think there is some disappointment on the france side, and in brussels and around europe to a degree. i would also say the expectations of what merkel would have been able to have done with this three-way coalition with the liberals and the greens might have been a little bit high elsewhere in europe.
parts of merkel's own party were never going to agree and are never going to agree to the kind of broad integration plans that macron has outlined, not to mention the free democrats, who are against many, if not all of what he had laid out. we interviewed lintner. he compared the macron plan to soviet style economics. peter: far-fetched. matthew: it might seem a little over-the-top, but it doesn't show really a deep willingness to compromise. i think they would have reached some sort ofof compromise somewhere, and i still think that will happen. the europeans are very worried about this, not just because of macron, but to keep the daily business running. without a government in germany that has real legitimacy, it is going to be difficult on all kinds of fronts, defense, the
hero, expansion, and so forth. i think that is a real issue. maybe that will give president steinmeyer in his discussions with martin schultz some leverage in playing this european card. europe and taking responsibility for the e.u. ater: anna, we mentioned couple times, and you indicated that you believe his motives were honorable in pulling the plug on the coalition talks. there are many others who ask the question, is christian lintner, who has become a relatively central figure, is he charismatic or he is he a rabble-rouser? is he a modernizer or another wild fringe populist? anna: i don't think he's a fringe populist, but he's an opportunist. what you have to see is that lintner took his career and his
very young age and all his energy to rebuilding a party from scratch that was kicked out of the bundestag in 2013 and was basically at the point of vanishing. that is what i give him credit for. he went for it and he did an excellent job on that. it was a great campaign. he got that party back into the bundestag. . completely understand that is what i give him credit for. now he's at the point where he's in the center of what is happening. he now has to take on a different perspective. also, i think he's sincere about this. the sdp was a terrible coalition partner. it didn't deliver anything.
it became a lobby of -- a party of lobbyists. minde back of lintner's is, i don't want to betray the voters again. peter: absolutely. i think we need to have a look -- when we talk about change, the big question is what happens next. let's have a look at the options now. >> first scenario, merkel forms a minority government with the greens or the free democrats. postwar germany has never had a minority government. the downside, a minority government would have to build majorities case-by-case. second scenario, the grand coalition. but the social democrats chairman says no. he prefers the third scenario. new elections. the downside, long uncertainty
with no real prospect of the vote turning out favorably. with: anna, let's begin the minority government. how promising is that for germany's future, for europe's future? anna: for europe's future, it is not the best option. for germany, it would be an experiment with trying maybe. i think stability is more important. to what matthew said about germany's sort of falling asleep over the grand coalition, it would be really interesting to see a government that has to work on issues, that has to find new majorities. that would really energize the political debate, and maybe also be a good thing with regards to the fringe parties that we've seen springing up. maybe also for this sort of
boredom with politics. matthew, i was reading and connect -- an academic the other day, it doesn't promise stability. matthew: i doubt most germans can remember weimar at this stage. it doesn't have to be as unstable as weimar was. it only lasts a couple years, that mightht not be a bad thing, especially for a party like the sdp. it is in complete disarray right now. the prospects are pretty dim to be honest. given the options out there for the spd in particular, which has three bad options, grand coalition, minority government, or new elections -- peter: the minority government with the social democrats, , if the social democrats get into bed with the conservatives,
she's got a grand coalition. matthew: right. and they have made clear they don't want to do that again. they feel that they were voted out the last time, they only got 20%, they lost a huge portion of their voters, so they don't think they have the legitimacy to enter another government. another important point is that their membership, a lot of rank-and-file people in the spd, do not want to go into a coalition again. i think many of their mps would welcome the opportunity, and many former and current ministers would like the opportunity to serve again. judy: i think a grand coalition would be so debilitating for germany. peter: i think the grand coalition, the parties that made up the grand coalition, they
lost 14% together. judy: it is very high. for the social democrats, it will be more of the same. peter: you don't think they could reinvent? judy: the social democrats would be decimated in the next election. doesnsn't know t the outcome. merkel might go into new elections damaged goods. give it a try. give it a try. it might be very interesting. peter: so your vote is for the minority government. what about fresh elections, anna? anna: i don't think it would change that much. if we look at the surveys right
now, of course there's going to be some movement. but i think it would still pretty much be around the same figures we've seen in the last election. for a coalition of the liberals and the christian democrats to be realizable, they would have to gain six or seven percentage points, and i don't see that right now. we have the same situation with the grand coalition, and then i think it will be much more likely that we see another coalition, because lintner has been so categorical about what he did. peter: the key player at the moment in all this is germany's federal president, steinmeyeyera very f familiar face to many people. he's had everybody around his residence here in berlin. he's sent them back out and said, negotiate, make it work.
can't -- if you look at what they agreed on, it was quite radical. the real thorn in the coalition talks was the christian social union. they are facing elections next year. there's a huge power struggle. they were just so obstructionist. they weren't looking at german politics and political interests. they were looking at their own provincial interests. matthew: i think it is worth remembering that the ftp and the greens are pretty far apart. who won a lot of concessions during these talks, but the greens were basically in the 80's born out of opposition. they were never going to be easy partners.
tactics,he various that really is the basic problem. he -- has said that judy: the greens and conservatives seem such unlikely bedfellows, but they do get on in one of the most important states in germany. the greens are still divided in any case. the conservatives moved extremely to the left in these negotiations. also.eens moved there was movement there, but the greens -- peter: for another word on fresh elections, i would like you to map out how long, if that is the avenue we go down, how long is it going to take before we get there? matthew: it would take several
months. it probably wouldn't happen until maybe late april, sometime around easter. in the meantime, you would have this limbo with this caretaker government. the german electorate doesn't want new elections. they would be very angry if they enended up having to go back to the polls, and then you would have to reenter this whole phase of coalition building. you wouldn't have a government probably until next summer. peter: this is where this long german word comes into play, people being disenchanted, disgruntled with the process of politics. matthew: and it might drive people to the far right. peter: the alternative for germany, who we have hardly mentioned. anna: we don't know yet. it seems like lintner is aiming at the electorate that the afd
is attracting with the nationalist electorate. these nationalist liberal voters , he would certainly do so if there were another campaign, he would go for it much more than he already did. i don't know. maybe it would be the other way around and some of the voters would go to the afd. judy: if that was the case, do we want an established eurosceptic party in government? i think that many, macron and many others in france are very relieved that we don't have a government that contains the ftp. certainly doesn't see itself as eurosceptic. he felt that he was being
personally besmirched by the greens because they suggested that he was a eurosceptic. peter: judy, we are running out of time. i would like to talk about angela merkel. down, but not out? judy: angela merkel is a fantastic politician. she's had two major blows. one is the election results, and now the collapse of coalition talks. angela merkel is no longer a salable, but her politics has come back with a brutality. peter: matthew, your quote at the top of the show, germany will remain stable with or without merkel. matthew: i'm hinting at, you enter this phase now if we move to new elections, with this limbo, a lot can happen. beforeeen challenges
from within her party. who knows what could happen over the next six months. she may decide she doesn't want to run again after all. nobody really knows. if there is a new election and her party does worse than it did this last time, which was pretty bad compared to the 2013 election, i think she would have to go. peter: is the woman sometimes called the true leader of the free world, is she waddling? anna: she won't be challenged from within her party. she has to run again in elections. she might lose a couple percentage points. i don't think people are going to let her fail more and then maybe challenge her sometime next year. but of course, the damage is done to the image. peter: ok, the question we wanted to ask is, how stable is germany?
on a scale of one to 10, where one is rocksolid and 10 is a house of cards, where is germany? judy: ace. peter: pretty close to rocksolid. rocksolid. peter: germany, the country without tectonics. matthew, what do you say? matthew: nine. peter: i don't know what our viewers are going to think. what would i give? , and that is the final word of the show. thank you very much for joining us. join us next week. come back to "quadriga." cheers.
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