THE drama roiling German politics lately had little to do with the bare facts. Notionally the dispute between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), its more conservative Bavarian sister party, concerned asylum-seekers who are registered and meant to stay in other EU countries, especially Italy, but then travel to Germany. The number of such “secondary” arrivals so far this year is under 20,000: eminently manageable in a country of 83m. The subject did not even come up during coalition talks between the two parties (and the centre-left Social Democrats, or SPD) this spring.
Yet until July 2nd, when the CDU and CSU reached a shaky compromise, it seemed this modest subject could fracture that young government and even end Mrs Merkel’s long chancellorship—because for both sides it was the symbol of something larger. The CSUers were driven by years of frustration at what they deem the chancellor’s complacent and haughty leadership…Continue reading