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Past Their Sell-By Dates, Merkel and May Cling on to Power with Plot and Process

Merkel May 3
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UK Prime Minister Theresa May has promised parliamentary colleagues she would not fight the next British general election, a price paid for her short-term political survival also employed by Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The two world leaders, overtaken by events of their own making, within their own control, but beyond their competence now rely on party processes and hastily made deals to sustain them beyond what their rivals see as their natural points of departure.

Germany’s Merkel sowed the seeds of her own demise in 2015 when reacting to emerging illegal migration streams from the Syrian civil war, she declared on the behalf of both her nation and the European Union at large “wir schaffen das” — ‘we can do it’. The ensuring rush at national borders thrown open metastasized into the Europe migrant crisis, and robbed Merkel of her moral authority as a leader, which was expressed in a series of poor election results at the national and local level.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU-CSU) party saw their worst national result since 1949 at the 2017 general election, leaving her to form another so-called ‘grand coalition’ with her left-wing opposition to maintain power. The result came among others in HesseBavaria and Berlin which saw record lows for Merkel’s candidates.

Finally concluding her days were numbered, Merkel struck a Faustian pact with the party to give herself years more at the top of German politics. Going against her own previously stated belief that leadership of her party and leadership of the nation should go hand in hand, Dr Merkel gave up leadership of the party but said she would stay chancellor until 2021.

Despite German voters turning against Merkel’s policies in droves, party members chose her eventual replacement to provide more of the same, voting for ‘Mini Merkel‘ Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in December.

While Merkel’s undoing is widely thought to have been her handling of the migrant crisis she was midwife to, Britain’s Theresa May has also fallen victim to her own political works thanks to her handling of Brexit.

Taking on the mantle of leadership of the Conservative Party in the wake of the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and the Brexit referendum he lost as the British people — against expectations — voted to leave, May made a series of grand promises she has subsequently failed to keep.

The dramatically different outcomes revealed in recent weeks to those promised in January 2017 during the prime minister’s so-called Lancaster House speech have done nothing to build confidence in May’s leadership. While she has persistently insisted her deal delivered on the ambitions articulated in 2017, critics note several key red lines have been crossed which mean not only will May’s deal not see the UK truly leave the European Union, but could potentially damage the integrity of the nation as well.

The fact May supported the Remain campaign during the referendum and has subsequently delivered a Brexit deal which is anything but has done nothing to calm disquiet.

Although pro-Brexit rebels within her party have been slow to anger — leaving their attempted insurrection until years into May’s constantly deteriorating negotiation process — Wednesday finally saw the culmination of a two-month-plus campaign to force a leadership vote within the party.

Forced into making a plea bargain with her own parliamentarians, promising Wednesday that she would not still be the party leader to fight the next UK general election if they would only let her hang on to power for now, May has apparently taken Merkel’s approach to secure her present.

What will not be clear to Parliamentarians is how this promise will be delivered — while the United Kingdom is not due another general election until May 2022, May is now immune to another leadership challenge for 12 months and if a snap election came in that time could conceivably lead the party again, against her own word.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook


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