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Christopher Caldwell knows how to grab our attention:

  • “Once again, Europe has a country at its centre that is too big for its neighbours. Merely by keeping on its best behaviour, Germany has managed to reawaken the historic ‘German problem’.”

However, as his troubling article for Standpoint makes clear, today’s German problem is very different to its earlier incarnations. While Germany once threatened the sovereignty of its neighbours, the German response to the current crisis in the Eurozone is to sacrifice its own independence on a European altar:

  • “Germany is in a position where it is going to haemorrhage either cash or sovereignty. The government has decided it would rather haemorrhage sovereignty. Voters will notice it less. They get to accumulate money in the short term. The EU gets to accumulate sovereignty in the long term.”

A transfusion of power from Berlin to Brussels might not be such a bad thing if accompanied by German qualities of discipline and efficiency. However, as Caldwell point out, these qualities are under threat:

  • “Germany is experiencing more political tumult now than you would expect from perhaps the world's most successful major economy. The country is clearly moving left.”

By way of evidence, he cites the electoral collapse of the free-market FDP (so much for liberal conservatism), the strength of the Greens and the resurgence of the Left Party (successors to the East German Communists):

  • “Chancellor Merkel can read the writing on the wall… she must now audition a new cast of coalition partners. The Social Democrats, with whom she shared power to the satisfaction of the public between 2005 and 2009, appear most likely to get the role… Observers speak of a "Social Democratisation" of the CDU.”

What changes Germany changes Europe; and that – one way or another – includes us.

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