The deselection of Volker Kauder as parliamentary group leader is not a yes to his opponent Brinkhaus, but rather a no to Merkel’s and Seehofer’s "carry on".
Kauder’s deselection is also a defeat for Merkel Photo: dpa
The uprising took place. The Union faction, which is not inclined to rebel, has catapulted Volker Kauder, Merkel’s confidant for 13 years, out. No one expected it, any more than they expected Brexit, the election of Donald Trump or that the grand coalition would look so disheveled after just a few months.
This election is an open revolt against Angela Merkel, even if this revolt has no clear direction. It is a loud no, not so much a clear yes. Ralph Brinkhaus, who will now head the parliamentary group, had run more on his own initiative – without the support of a wing or a powerful state association. He has not yet attracted attention with any remarkable political initiatives. In short, the CDU/CSU voted against Kauder rather than for Brinkhaus. Against the eternal "business as usual. Merkel, Seehofer and Dobrindt, who are otherwise at cross-purposes on many issues, had all unanimously campaigned for Kauder. The pressure on the deputies was great. For the situation for the CDU/CSU is uncomfortable, more uncomfortable than perhaps since Kohl’s donations affair.
The grand coalition resembles a married couple that is just getting on each other’s nerves and, although they have only been married for six months, is on the verge of divorce. The mood between the CSU and CDU has been frosty for months. The elections in Bavaria (Merkel critics) and Hesse (Merkel supporters) threaten to end badly for the CSU and CDU. For the Union, there seems to be no way back to the possession of power long taken for granted. And the double split between the government and the CDU/CSU is driving voters to the AfD all by itself. Merkel, who always knew a way out, seems at a loss. All of these could have been reasons to vote for the status quo out of discipline, not conviction.
But the CDU/CSU caucus has decided otherwise. Merkel’s power is thus declining at a rapid pace. It is clear that she will have to go as chancellor. The only question is when. And whether she will be able to do what no one else has been able to do – make her own exit in an orderly and confident manner.
It doesn’t look like she will.