Key Merkel ally ousted in party vote

German chancellor Angela Merkel is in trouble not only with the voters, but with the politicians in her own party.

Volker Kauder, Merkel's longtime ally in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) parties, was ousted from his leadership position in what the German press is referring to as a "revolution."  Other top Merkel allies like interior minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) and state party leader Alexander Dobrindt (CSU) had also urged support for Kauder.

Instead, Kauder's deputy, Ralph Brinkhaus, will serve as the Union's leader in parliament. 

Forced to form a shaky coalition with the opposition Social Democrats to keep the nationalist AfD party from sharing power after the election earlier this year, Merkel now finds her influence within her own party waning at a time of deep unhappiness from some of the more conservative members of the Union.

Deutsche Welle:

The ousting of Kauder goes to show that Angela Merkel no longer has the same authority over the Christian Democratic Union as she did during her previous terms as chancellor, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"Authority inevitably decreases when a leader approaches the end of their [sic] term in office," columnist Jasper von Altenbockum wrote.  "In America, this phenomenon is known as 'lame duck' syndrome."  Merkel's defeat kicks off debate over how long this lameness will linger on.

For 13 years, Merkel has pulled the party closer to the center-left, leaving too many voters, allies and the entire democratic culture behind, according to the Münchener Merkur.  "Now her party, reeling from the legacy of her migration policy and the leadership's routine neglect of voter sentiment, refuses to go any further.

"Volker Kauder was Merkel's most trusted squire," writes Georg Anastasiadis.  "His fall shows that the regent Merkel's power only rests on the shoulders of a handful of minions.  However, their power is no longer rooted in the crucial foundation of democracy: the people."

That's the bottom line.  It's why this unnatural alliance with the Social Democrats is likely to fall apart fairly quickly.  Politicians are notorious survivors, and many conservative members of the chancellor's party, who might balk at aligning themselves with AfD – except on immigration issues – feel totally abandoned by her more liberal policies and realize that in order to stay in office, they must find a way to distance themselves from her.  Getting rid of Kauder is a clear sign that Merkel's conservative allies have had enough.

It would be wrong to say Merkel will be forced out of office any time soon, although she may step down voluntarily if early elections are called.  If that were to happen, it would be one of the more amazing falls from grace in post-war, post-reunification Germany.  Just four years ago, Merkel was the most powerful politician in Europe.  Today, she can't persuade her own party to back her.

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