Since he was elected French president four months ago, Emmanuel Macron has been promising to roll out an ambitious reform program for the European Union. But he said he would wait until after the German election to unveil his bold plans.
Now, it is clear why that was so necessary.
Though she secured a fourth term as German chancellor today, Angela Merkel probably wasn’t popping the Champagne behind closed doors. Though it still won far more votes than any other party, her conservative bloc lost 8% of the vote share it won in the last election in 2013. The centre-left SPD, her coalition partner for the past four years, suffered its worst result in history, even though it came in second place.
The new far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was the chief beneficiary of these lost votes, coming in third place. Last night, SPD leader Martin Schulz ruled out forming another coalition with Merkel, so as to prevent the AfD from becoming the German parliament’s largest opposition party.