Op-Ed: The End of the Merkel Era and the Rise of Social Liberalism : Implications for Germany and Europe

Photo Credit: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly 

By Andrew Campos
Contributing Writer

After sixteen years of unimpeded rule in the federal government, the center-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), led by the unifying and captivating Angela Merkel, has relinquished control of the German federal parliament known as the Bundestag. During her term as Chancellor, Angela Merkel managed several diverse coalitions and promoted a conciliatory approach to healing divisions between the member states of the European Union as well as between East and West Germany. Her signature proclamation, Wir schiffen das (we can do it), encouraged cooperation within the EU during the Eurozone crisis and the 2015 refugee crisis. However, Merkel’s fellow CDU member and successor to the chancellery, Armin Laschet, proved to be a divisive candidate, especially among members of his own party. After a series of economic lockdowns prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and faltering approval ratings of the CDU/CSU, it became evident that the German people were due for a change of leadership in the Reichstag. Now, the German electorate has spoken, and has approved the formation of a new group of socially-minded actors in the Bundestag. These actors have created the “traffic-light” coalition, spearheaded by the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) alongside the center-left Alliance 90/The Greens, and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) and named after the party colors of each respective member (SPD: Red, FDP: Yellow, and The Greens/Alliance 90: Green).

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The Strategic Shifts Caused by Nord Stream 2 and What the United States Can Do Moving Forward

Photo by Chris LeBoutillier from Pexels

By Shawn Rostker
Staff Writer

The Russian Federation has a history of using energy policy as a coercive tool of foreign policy. This practice dates back to the late 1980’s before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It continued through the early years of the newly formed Russian state as it sought to rebuild from economic ruin. Moscow, in its contemporary form, continues to exercise this practice as it seeks to capitalize on its natural abundance of oil and natural gas reserves. Currently, Russia boasts the world’s largest proven reserves of natural gas with roughly 48 trillion cubic meters. According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s most recent figures it is also the world’s number one annual exporter of natural gas at over 210 billion cubic meters. While the playbook may not be new, the Russian state is not the same player that the Soviet Union was. The Soviet Union struggled to implement these tactics effectively due to an incompetent central planning system, disjointed leadership structures, and their failure to adequately maintain technological progress due to a lack of incentive schemes. Over the course of the last twenty years, however, Russia has consolidated its energy industries under state purview, established a vertically-oriented ladder of leadership, provided incentive and opportunity for innovation, and strengthened its economic might through integration into global markets. These characteristics enable Russia to behave more subversively within bilateral partnerships. 

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Old Alternatives: The Return of Nationalism to German Politics

By Marc Camanag
Staff Writer

Six years after a seemingly innocuous entrance into the political sphere, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) has grown into a nationalist powerhouse that holds the third-largest share in the country’s federal parliament. Echoing similar movements across Europe, the AfD’s platform has tapped into deep-rooted, populist fears to launch itself on a trajectory that no party has ever pulled off in such short time. As the first far-right party to set foot in the Bundestag in nearly sixty years, the AfD raises the question: Why has nationalism returned to German politics, and why now? 

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