Angela Merkel has been chancellor of Germany for 12 years to the day, and many observers are predicting this anniversary could be her last. Murmurs about the “beginning of the end” of the German chancellor and a “world without Merkel” gained volume this week after Germany’s coalition talks to form its next government collapsed, following the unexpected exit by the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) from the negotiations. The crisis has led to speculation about whether this setback will lead to an unfavorable minority government or new elections—and whether Merkel can ultimately survive either.
It comes just two months after Germany’s last general election, during which Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, with its Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) sister party, failed to earn enough parliamentary seats to form a government on their own. Faced with the center-left Social Democrats’ (SPD) refusal to revive their “grand coalition” and her party’s own refusal to enter into coalition with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the chancellor was left with no other choice than to attempt to form a three-way coalition with two smaller parties, the FDP and the Greens. This so-called “Jamaica” coalition (which derives its name because the involved parties’ colors collectively correspond with the Jamaican flag) “could have gotten a lot done,” Merkel said in the days following FDP’s decision to leave the talks.