Cheers from Angela Merkel’s conservative allies in Brussels at her re-election on Sunday belie wider unease at how the German chancellor will deal with an awkward new coalition and a surge in support for the far-right.
“With Angela Merkel, Germany remains the strong and reliable partner in Europe,” tweeted Manfred Weber, a Merkel ally who leads the biggest party bloc in the European Parliament.
But one source in the European People’s Party saw trouble ahead in her need to replace her battered Social Democrat “grand coalition” partners with an alliance of both the left-leaning Greens and the resurgent, economically hawkish liberals of the FDP.
“Things worked very smoothly with the socialists,” the EPP source said. “Now, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The broad expectation is for a “Jamaica” coalition -- the country’s flag comprises the three parties’ colors.
Martin Selmayr, German chief-of-staff to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, sent a tweet consisting only of three flags: Jamaica’s green, yellow and black flanked by two blue EU banners -- a reflection of hope in Brussels of continued EU commitment from Berlin that some fear may now be problematic.
One casualty of Merkel’s weakness may be a rapid move to deepen integration of the euro zone along lines that new French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to outline on Tuesday.
Those plans, as with reform proposals floated this month by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, may run into increased scepticism in Berlin, where many are wary of what they see as more demands for German bailouts of states like Greece.
Resistance may come both from Merkel’s Christian Democrats, spooked by the surge on their right flank, where Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered parliament as the third biggest party, and from the Free Democrats (FDP), whose leader Christian Lindner ruled out Germany contributing to a shared euro zone budget.
The liberal leader in the European Parliament, committed federalist and former Belgian premier Guy Verhofstadt, said he hoped for a “pro-European” coalition to push EU integration.
The FDP leader in the EU legislature, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, said it was “an open-minded, pro-European party”.
The European Greens’ German co-chair Reinhard Butikofer said his party wanted to strengthen the European Union, “making use of the window of opportunity that exists ... between Paris, Brussels and Berlin”. He was referring to a keynote speech by Juncker 10 days ago in which the EU chief executive said anti-EU populists were in retreat and called for deeper EU integration.
But Guntram Wolff, the German director of the Brussels think-tank Bruegel, questioned Juncker’s thinking. He forecast a rightward shift in Germany due to the AfD and resistance from the FDP that would stymie Macron and Juncker’s grand visions.
“Populism definitely not dead,” Wolff tweeted. “Juncker speech completely miscalculated the situation.”
Weakened by the worst result for her party since 1949 and facing a more fractious political landscape at home, Germany’s Angela Merkel could be forced to rein in plans to re-shape Europe together with France’s Emmanuel Macron.
Merkel’s conservatives garnered more support than any other party in the German election on Sunday, projections showed, ensuring that she will return for a fourth term as chancellor.
But her party appeared on track for its poorest performance since the first German election after World War Two and its only path to power may be through an unwieldy, untested three-way coalition with the ecologist Greens and liberal Free Democrats (FDP), fierce critics of Macron’s ideas for Europe.
Over the next four years, Merkel will also have to cope with a more confrontational opposition force in the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a eurosceptic, anti-immigration party that rode a wave of public anger after her decision to open Germany’s borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants in 2015.
The AfD was on track to win over 13 percent, above what polls had predicted. They will become the first far-right party to enter the German parliament since the 1950s.
This will be a new world for Merkel, who has grown accustomed to cozy coalitions and toothless Bundestag opposition during her 12 years in power.
“In my mind, reform of the euro zone is the single most important foreign policy issue that the new government has in front of it,” said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, who runs the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund.
But he predicted a so-called “Jamaica” coalition between Merkel’s conservatives, the FDP and the Greens - whose combined party colors of black, yellow and green are like those the Jamaican national flag - would struggle to deliver.
Nearly 50,000 people have fled the Mount Agung volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing an imminent eruption as dozens of tremors rattle the surrounding region, officials said Monday.
Waskita Sutadewa, spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency in Bali, said people have scattered to all corners of the island and some have crossed to the neighboring island of Lombok.
Indonesian authorities raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level on Friday following a dramatic increase in seismic activity. It last erupted in 1963, killing about 1,100 people.
Thousands of evacuees are living in temporary shelters, sports centers, village halls and with relatives or friends. Some return to the danger zone, which extends up to 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the crater, during the day to tend to livestock.
Officials have said there's no immediate threat to tourists, but some are already cutting short their stays in Bali. A significant eruption would force the closure of Bali's international airport, stranding thousands.
"It's obviously an awful thing. We want to get out of here just to be safe," said an Australian woman at Bali's airport who identified herself as Miriam.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said hundreds of thousands of face masks will be distributed in Bali as part of government humanitarian assistance that includes thousands of mattresses and blankets.
"The chances of an eruption are very high, but we cannot be sure when it will erupt," he said at a news conference in the capital, Jakarta.
He said not everyone had left the danger zone because they didn't want to leave livestock, were underestimating the risk or because of religious reasons.
"Officers continue to sweep the area and are appealing for people to evacuate," he said.
In 1963, the 3,031-meter (9,944-foot) Agung hurled ash as high as 20 kilometers (12 miles), according to volcanologists, and remained active for about a year. Lava traveled 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) and ash reached Jakarta, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away.
The mountain, 72 kilometers (45 miles) to the northeast of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
The country of thousands of islands is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
THOUSANDS at the Kotel right now 5:11pm et (just after midnight Jerusalem time) WOW!
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