Deceptive Stability? Germany in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Last Term

Lecture | April 16 | 12-1 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Niko Switek, University of Washington

 Institute of European Studies, Pacific Regional Office of the GHI Washington, Center for German and European Studies

Looking from the US to Germany many observers admire chancellor Angela Merkel as an element of stability in turbulent times. She is in her fourth term as chancellor and recently gave a passionate speech defending multilateralism and free trade at the Munich Security Conference - once main pillars of US foreign policy.
Yet politics in Germany turned turbulent themselves as result of the refugee crisis in 2015. A right-wing populist competitor arose and the governing conservatives and social democrats suffered heavy losses in the federal election 2017. For the first time coalition negotiations - about a novel conservative-liberal-green government - failed, and the continuation of the grand coalition was unpopular with both party’s memberships. Under pressure from her own base Merkel gave up leadership of her party in the end of 2018. The narrow outcome in electing her successor documented a divided party.
The talk focuses on the consequences of these changes: How long will Merkel stay chancellor and what is her legacy, dominating German politics for such a long time? What will the new leadership mean for the Christian democrats on the one hand and for the whole party system and coalition politics on the other? How will this affect the role of Germany in the EU and transatlantic relations?

Niko Switek received his Ph.D. in Political Science in 2015 from the University of Duisburg Essen (Germany) and is currently DAAD Visiting Assistant Professor for German Studies at the Henry M. Jackson School for International Studies and the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. His research interests focus on political parties and party systems as well as on coalition politics. He wrote extensively about the German green party "Bündnis 90/Die Grünen" and the green party family in Western Europe. In addition, he worked on parties on European level ("Europarties") and just recently compiled a volume on fictional TV series about politics.