Germany’s Aussenpolik After the Election

in German Politics and Society


The German election of 2017 has produced an unstable government which is unlikely to offer the kind of leadership in foreign and security policy that Europe and the larger West need in a turbulent time. Chancellor Angela Merkel will be in a weaker position than before with the loss of key cabinet positions to the Social Democrats and the Bavarian Christian Social Union. Many will be looking past her as the struggle to succeed her will increase. The key foreign policy agenda will include Europe and the Franco-German relationship, Russia, Turkey and Transatlantic relations. Merkel 4.0 is likely to be a transitional and unruly government that will bridge the end of the Merkel era and the start of one led by a new generation of leaders.

The main consequence of the 2017 Bundestag election has been its impact on the stability and reliability of Germany as a foreign policy actor. The emergence of a seven-party system is likely to be a factor for at least the next four to eight years and this will make managing a coalition government more difficult than at any time since the stabilization of the Federal Republic’s foreign policy in 1954, when West Germany entered nato. This comes at a time of great instability in Germany’s strategic environment and the consequent need for more—not less—German leadership. The presence of a right-wing extremist party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) as the largest opposition party in the Bundestag is an entirely new and unpredictable factor. The weakening of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s position and the anticipation that she will leave office during or at the end of this term have made the weakening of Germany’s leadership role in Europe and especially on Russia policy more likely. While many in Germany welcome this lowering of expectations,1 it comes at a time when there is a leadership deficit in Europe and Germany is the most important power in the region.

The Electorate and German Foreign Policy

The outcome of the 2017 election and the almost half year it took afterwards to form a government was not the intention of the German electorate. Post elections polls found that the public believed the Christian Democrats (cdu/csu) to be the most competent party in foreign policy with 48 percent choosing them compared to 21 percent favoring the Social Democrats (spd) and 17 percent the AfD. Confidence in Angela Merkel’s leadership was also substantial with 56 percent preferring her to be chancellor compared to only 34 percent favoring Martin Schulz, the Social Democrats’ chancellor candidate. Voters believed she was by far the most competent in understanding the issues.2 The election, however, was not about foreign policy in the classic sense but was dominated by a foreign policy issue, namely refugees and the presence of foreigners in Germany. When asked what problems those polled found as most important in the election, 44 percent listed refugees and foreigners, 24 percent pensions, 16 percent social inequality, 9 percent criminality or domestic security, and 8 percent unemployment. On the key issue of which party was most competent to deal with refugees and asylum seekers, 35 percent listed the cdu/csu, 19 percent AfD, and 15 percent the spd. On what voters saw as a related issue—criminality and domestic security—40 percent chose the AfD, 34 percent the cdu/csu, and only 11 percent the spd. The AfD mobilized nonvoters in large numbers but also gained from those who had voted for the Christian Democrats (accounting for 21 percent of the AfD vote), while the spd lost 10 percent of their previous voters to the new right party.3

A poll conducted in November 2017 by the Körber Foundation also indicated the continuing saliency of this complex of issues with 56 percent of those polled favoring limiting the number of refugees in Germany and 59 percent supporting European Union aid to African states for border protection to reduce migration, even if those states were known to commit human rights abuses.4 The same poll found that refugees were listed as the most important challenge currently facing German foreign policy, with 26 percent listing it compared to 19 percent choosing relations with the U.S./ Trump and 17 percent relations with Turkey/Erdogan. A large majority (69 percent) stated that they were strongly or very strongly interested in German foreign policy with 52 percent wanting Germany to become more involved in international crises. The areas of international engagement which this group selected were ensuring the security of Germany and its allies (71 percent), protecting the environment and the climate (67 percent), protecting human rights (64 percent) and regulating and reducing illegal immigration to Germany (54 percent).5

The New GroKo Government: Unruly and Unpredictable

The grand coalition (Grosse Koalition or GroKo) government which finally emerged after over five months of negotiations and one failed attempt to form a Jamaica coalition (of cdu/csu, fdp and Greens based on the parties’ colors corresponding to the flag of that country), found the Social Democrats in a stronger position than its electoral results would have indicated. Although the spd received a third fewer votes than the Christian Democrats, it ended up with five ministries including the Finance, Foreign and Labor Ministries. The csu came away with Interior, important on domestic security and refugees and Transportation. The cdu kept the Chancellery, but has only the Defense, Economics, Health, Education, and Agriculture portfolios.

This constellation means that Chancellor Merkel enters what is likely to be her final term in office greatly weakened in the foreign policy area. She will no longer have her key national security advisor, Christoph Heusgen, who moved to the un as German ambassador. His successor as director of the important Abteilung 2 in the Chancellery, Jan Hecker, was a surprise appointment. A former federal judge, Hecker has little foreign policy experience and has not served in the Foreign Office. He worked with the chancellor as her refugee coordinator since October 2015 on the wide range of issues surrounding the refugee crisis, including the agreement with Turkey. Merkel has also lost Wolfgang Schäuble as Finance Minister and Thomas de Maziere, who played a key role for her at Defense and then as interior minister. Her chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, moves to the Economics Ministry. Finally, her appointment of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to be the general secretary of the cdu is clearly meant to pave her way as Merkel’s successor, while the appointment of Jens Spahn, a clear critic and rival, to the Health Ministry sets up the beginning of a succession struggle which will further dilute her authority. The fact that the party forced the Spahn appointment on the chancellor indicates her weakened position.

The role of the chancellor in foreign policy has been one of largely setting policy guidelines and then coordinating policy in the cabinet. As Josef Janning noted: “A lot of foreign policy is made in the chancellery. That is always the case when you are dealing with chancellors who have passed their first term in office. Chancellors tend to take on more and more of the issues relating to European and international affairs.”6 However, ministers under the Resortsprinzip have a great deal of autonomy once the policy guidelines are set, an autonomy strengthened by the importance of the professional civil service in each ministry. This principle of ministerial competence combined with the constraints of the coalition agreement and the fact that five of the ministers in this cabinet are Social Democrats and two are from the csu means that her role will be limited to a few issues that she deems vital, the so called Chefsachen. In addition, she has a very small staff dealing with foreign and security policy (less than twenty-five all told in the key Abteilung 2). In the previous government, the chancellor played a central role on refugee policy, Russia, Europe and the Eurozone, and Transatlantic relations. The extent that she can continue to control these areas will be greatly limited in her final term.

As Horst Seehofer’s first statement as interior minister on Muslims not belonging in Germany and the response of the Social Democratic ministers indicates, cabinet members seem to fear Merkel less and are more worried about their own constituencies.7 In Seehofer’s case, the upcoming Bavarian state election in October 2018 and the threat to the Christian Social Union’s dominance in that state posed by the rise of the Alternative for Germany is regarded as more important than maintaining cabinet unity. Seehofer is following the example of the agriculture minister in the former government, Christian Schmidt, also of the csu, who went against cabinet discipline in agreeing to renew an eu license for a contentious weed killer, illustrating Merkel’s weakness even then.8

New Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, served as justice minister in the previous government. He is a newcomer to foreign policy with no known positions on key issues and will rely on the extensive and competent network of German diplomats in the Foreign Office. He is well known and respected in the spd and will work closely with Olaf Scholz, the finance minister. Another important foreign policy ministry, Defense, remains with Ursula von der Leyen of the cdu, who will be a candidate to succeed Merkel and who will want to keep a high profile. Whether she will be able to do so in a politically unpopular portfolio will be a major question and she starts her new term under the shadow of a scathing report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Bundeswehr, Hans Peter Bartels (spd), which laid out her failures to address major deficiencies in equipment, training, and personnel in the armed forces. Economics Minister Altmaier, will play an important role in two foreign policy related areas—trade and energy. His closeness to the chancellor from his time as her chief of staff, combined with the centrality of trade to Germany’s foreign policy will give him a central role. He traveled to Washington in March 2018 just days after being sworn in to deal with the issue of the Trump tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The Foreign Policy Agenda

The final Merkel government is facing the greatest upheaval in German foreign policy since reunification with all its major pillars under great strain. The Westbindung, which has anchored German foreign policy since 1949 resting on the twin pillars of nato and the European Union, are now challenged both in the United States and within Europe. The legacy of Ostpolitik and of engagement with Russia is now under the greatest stress since the Euromissile debate of the 1980s given Russia’s actions since its seizure of Crimea. Germany’s role as the world’s greatest export nation is now threatened by the rise of protectionism, not the least from the architect of the postwar liberal economic order, the United States. Demands for and concerns about Germany’s leadership role in the West are at the highest level in the postwar German experience.

While Germany does not regard itself as a regional hegemon and continues to be reluctant as being seen as Europe’s indispensable power, it has taken the lead on eurozone stabilization, Russia, eu refugee and energy policies during the previous GroKo. Its agenda will have to focus on European policy and the Franco-German relationship including the issue of populism, the rise of illiberal governments in Europe, and the implications of Brexit. In addition, relations with Russia, Turkey, the United States and Transatlantic relations will demand German policy responses.

Europe and the Franco-German Relationship

The Körber Foundation poll asked Germans which partnership the future priority for Germany’s defense policy should be and 88 percent chose that with the European states to only 9 percent selecting the U.S. France was selected by 63 percent as Germany’s most important partner, followed by the U.S. at 43 percent. This poll also found that close to a third support Germany playing a more dominant role in the eu, while only 15 percent thought it was too dominant. Nevertheless, 59 percent believed that the eu was not on the right track, and 54 percent opposed the creation of a European minister of finance.9

The coalition agreement with the spd stands in stark contrast on European policy from the one which would have emerged from the Jamaica negotiations. The Free Democrat’s (fdp) leader, Christian Lindner, had taken a tough line on the Eurozone, rejecting a common budget and calling for the exit of Greece from the euro. fdp voters along with those supporting the AfD and the csu are clearly more euroskeptical and would have pulled Merkel toward a tougher line on the eurozone and on eu budget negotiations. Lindner, made it clear that any Eurozone reform that entailed major fiscal transfers as part of a Eurozone budget and cost Germany money would be “a line in the sand.” Before the election, newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron had said “If Merkel is tied to the Liberals then I am dead.”10

Now the prospect for some movement on both Franco-German relations and the Eurozone are improved with the spd pushing through a pro eu position in the coalition agreement. This agreement begins with a rousing defense of the importance of Europe to Germany and the need to strengthen eu institutions against antiliberal tendencies. It singles out the importance of the Franco-German relationship to the European renewal. “The renewal of the eu can only be accomplished if Germany and France work for it together with their entire power.”11 While these generalities will have to be given substance by the new government, however, its support for the eu’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (pesco) initiative in defense is clear.

While Macron supports creating a Eurozone budget, appointing a European finance minister, and establishing a European Monetary Fund, the GroKo agreement is less clear on financial policy calling for fiscal controls, economic cooperation, and the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance. It supports the idea of a European Monetary Fund which is responsible to national parliaments but makes no mention of a European finance minister. The spd leadership is closer to the Macron view than is the chancellor. Merkel favors a small monetary fund to support structural reform in Eurozone countries, but the German public has been wary of such attempts, arguing they would encourage fiscally irresponsible behavior—a fear enhanced by the 2018 Italian elections which produced a victory for anti-European parties. The decision over the appointment of the new head of the European Central Bank (ecb) in 2019 will be an indicator of the future of Eurozone policy. If Jens Weidmann, the head of the Bundesbank, is pushed by the German government it will conflict with Macron’s desire for a more relaxed approach on monetary policy. “German’s priority for the ecb is a change in policy rather than personnel. German savers hate low interest rates, while the broader economic and political establishment denounces the banks euro 2.3 trillion quantitative easing program.”12 Merkel’s first trip in her fourth term was to Paris where she was met with both hope and skepticism that Germany will take the bold steps called for by the French president. At her meeting with Macron she stated: “I know that you have waited a long time but our coalition deal… is a response to France’s demands.”13

The role of the AfD as the main opposition party in the Bundestag as well as the euroskeptical views of the csu will make a major European initiative unlikely, except in the areas of border security and counterterrorism. Macron’s focus on border security and counterterrorism measures and his crackdown on immigrants have broad appeal among the csu and the cdu. Given that there is a csu minister of the interior, Macron should find an ally in Berlin. All this portends a tougher position on immigration and asylum within the eu in light also of the new Austrian government and trends in Italy and other eu member states, but less than Macron has asked for on the Eurozone.

While the coalition agreement makes a strong statement in favor of an open Europe, the election results have placed in question Germany’s role as leader of the liberal order. As many European and American media reactions show, the sense from outside of Germany is that of a “normalized Germany” that is not that different from the rest of the West. Anne Applebaum in her column concluded:

Germany now becomes one of a team of countries fighting similar problems, rather than a disinterested outsider. The leading political minds of the richest country in Europe are now forced to focus with a good deal more urgency on calming the anti-immigrant, anti-eu emotions in their own country, instead of just denouncing it in others. This is important, because German policy—on refugees, money and much else—is itself the source of some of these emotions, or at least that’s how many perceive it. Finally, Germany will be forced to confront these issues at home. So yes, Merkel keeps her job, but that job just got harder.14

The reaction in Poland has also made the point that Merkel was wrong about the refugee issue and both Stephen Bannon and Viktor Orban supported the winning euroskeptical parties in the Italian election. Partnership with Poland is singled out in the coalition agreement, which proposes intensifying contacts without mentioning the state of democracy in that country. The acting German government had already warned Poland about the violation of the rule of law and supported the eu Commission’s actions against it for not accepting asylum seekers. The problem of democratic backsliding in Central Europe will be a divisive one for the new government given the close ties of the csu to populist leaders in Poland and Hungary and the presence of AfD in the Bundestag. Here is an arena where Foreign Minister Maas may make a difference as he has been an outspoken defender of the liberal order at home including his efforts as justice minister to impose tough hate speech laws on social media sites and his criticism of the German far right.

On Brexit, the GroKo agreement states that it regrets the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and wants to keep a good relationship with Britain after its departure. All the parties in the coalition want a good relationship with the uk after Brexit but not at the cost of “cherry picking” or a la carte options for that country. They will also support a policy of that carries some pain for the uk to discourage other eu members from following suit. German industry is more concerned about a viable European single market than it is about its investments in Britain and is hoping to benefit from the outmigration of eastern Europeans from the uk to Germany. Frankfurt is also vying to replace London as Europe’s premier financial center.15 Still, the loss of the uk as an eu member poses a budget shortfall in Brussels that will have to be covered in part by Germany. Berlin also loses a strong ally regarding its desire to promote liberalization of eu markets.


It was noteworthy that Russian efforts to affect the outcome of the German election were not very apparent or successful. On the one hand, there is some evidence of efforts in eastern Germany to help the AfD, as well as to influence the 2 million Russian speakers in Germany. This may have had some impact in the east where the AfD came in as the second party with almost a quarter of the votes. On the other hand, Putin already had several sympathetic partners in Germany. Except for the cdu and the Greens, all the other parties are either soft on Russia or are willing enablers of Putin (the Left Party and the AfD). The csu has been urging the end of sanctions and the spd has promoted the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia. During the election campaign, fdp leader Lindner made a remarkable statement calling the Crimea annexation a permanent provisional situation and signaling a move away from the Minsk 2 agreement on Ukraine. The Greens have been very critical of Russia and Putin, but with the spd once again in the government, the line on Russia is likely to soften. The controversial Nord Stream 2 project received approval from the caretaker government in January 2018 to begin construction in German territorial waters. Merkel’s spokesman has repeated the position that this is “a purely commercial project,” and it will proceed under the new government.16

The coalition agreement’s statements on Russia do not reveal much new in German policy, reiterating that the Russian violation of Ukrainian sovereignty damaged the European peace order and requires “attentiveness and resilience.” It repeats the spd position of the importance of cooperation with Russia to Germany and to European security. While the Russian market has waned in importance for Germany, Russia still supplies about 35 percent of German oil and gas and a substantial Russia business lobby exists in Berlin. Its most prominent member is former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder who heads the board of the Russian gas concern, Rosneft, and is a major figure in promoting Russian interests within the spd including the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Merkel had to take the extraordinary step of declining to impose sanctions on Schröder for his work with the Russians.17

The massive decline of confidence in the Trump Administration and in the United States more generally has resulted in a new relativization of Russia and America among many Germans. The Körber Foundation’s “Berlin Pulse” poll taken at the end of 2017 found that 78 percent of Germans polled believed that Germany should cooperate more with Russia, while the figure for cooperating more with the U.S. was 56 percent. Only 11 percent, however, felt Russia was a first or second most important partner for Germany, while 43 percent regarded the U.S. as one of Germany’s two most important partners.18 That said, the German public finds Putin more reliable than Trump. A poll taken in February 2018 found that although Germans assessed the prospect of Putin’s re-election as Russian president as bad, only 53 percent found his policies cause for great or some worry. Meanwhile, 82 percent had similar worries about Donald Trump.19

Given the centrality of Chancellor Merkel’s leadership both in Germany and in Europe on Russia policy and the great uncertainty of the Trump policies on Russia, a weakening of Merkel’s position on Russia will have decisive consequences for how the West responds to a recently re-elected President Putin whose aggressive foreign and defense policies are widely supported in Russia.


The German public has an overwhelmingly negative view of contemporary Turkey. A Pew/Körber poll conducted in late 2017 found that relations with Turkey ranked only behind refugees and relations with the United States as the greatest challenge facing German foreign policy. Turkey ranked lowest in trust of eight countries (at 2 percent) among Germany’s most important partners. Three-fourths of Germans polled believed that eu accession talks with Turkey should be broken off, and by a margin of 75 percent to 19 percent believed that Germany should adopt a hard position toward Turkey on the refugee agreement, even if it jeopardizes the deal.20 Polls taken earlier in 2017 produced similar findings.21 In a poll taken by the German broadcaster ard in 2017, only 11 percent of those polled held out any hope “that the German-Turkish relationship will improve in the next years,” while 57 percent believed the chances to be small, and 30 percent very small.22

Germany’s relations with Turkey hit an all-time low during the Merkel’s third term as chancellor. The legacy of twelve years of Merkel’s Turkey policy has been characterized as one “without concept or strategy or if there is a strategic element it concerns preserving the power and party political interests of the Chancellor.”23 Merkel has shifted from an emphasis on democratic values and human rights to a purely realist concern about stemming the flow of refugees, and has alternated between a policy of confrontation and appeasement.24 The coalition agreement text on Turkey indicates German policy on Turkey is on hold until after the Turkish elections of 2018 due to the backsliding of democracy in Turkey,

Turkey is an important partner of Germany and neighbor to the eu, with which we have a variety of relations. Therefore, we have a special interest in a good relationship to Turkey. The state of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in Turkey has been worsening for a long period. Therefore, we are not willing to close any chapters in accession negotiations or open new ones. Visa liberalization or an expansion of the customs union will only be possible once Turkey fulfills the necessary preconditions.25

Merkel in her “Statement of Government Policy,” which opened her term in March 2018, took a strong position on the Turkish offensive against the Kurds in the Afrin region of Syria, calling it “unacceptable” and that “we condemn it in the sharpest terms.” The Social Democrats for both foreign policy and domestic political concerns are more open to keeping the door to Turkey’s membership in the eu open than are the Christian Democrats, but the continuing violation of democratic norms and the rule of law in Turkey make any movement in Berlin unlikely until after the 2018 presidential election in Turkey. The new government understands that it cannot ignore Turkey and must take a long-term approach with the idea that Turkey policy must be more than an Erdogan policy.26 Given its population of over 3 million Germans of Turkish origin and its economic relationship with Turkey, Germany cannot take a view that Turkey is lost. Amanda Sloat in her study of the West’s relationship with Turkey outlined three policy options for the future: abandonment, transactionalism, and engagement.27

Germany does not have the option of abandonment and is currently pursuing elements of transactionalism and engagement with the hope that over the long term, engagement will return as the dominant approach. A common Transatlantic approach along these lines seems to be the best long-term approach, with transactionalism as the medium-term bridge. As Kemal Kirişci has persuasively argued, “continuing to engage Turkey rather than abandoning it is of paramount importance. … [I]t is important that both the eu and the United States continue to support the process in Turkey to keep its eu membership prospects alive, whatever the challenges might be.”28

Transatlantic Relations

Donald Trump is deeply unpopular with the German public and the Social Democrats ran against him in their campaign. Merkel has been conscious of avoiding the kind of rhetoric that led to a split during the Bush-Schröder years over Iraq. During the campaign, she avoided demonizing Trump as the spd did, and it did not cost her votes. She understands the German interest in a relationship that is the ultimate guarantee of German security and in which Germany has a major economic stake. Even more than is the case with Turkey, Germany cannot afford a major break with Washington. The German public understands this well. Although it deeply distrusts the American president, it sees the U.S. as Germany’s second most important partner after France (63 percent, U.S. 43 percent and Russia only 11 percent). As mentioned above, in that same poll, however, 78 percent want to see more cooperation with Russia with only 56 percent wanted to do the same with the United States.29 At the same time, Germany is less able to criticize Trump on human rights and immigration given the rise of anti-immigrant and (arguably) antidemocratic forces in Germany. This goes with the view that a less extraordinary Germany may be less vocal on these issues.

Given Germany’s heavy dependence on exports and the emergence of the American market as the largest for Germany, trade and an open international economic order are as existential as the nuclear issue to Germany. Economics Minister Altmaier’s first foreign trip was to Washington to argue against protectionist policies. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, (ttip) is probably dead as a formal agreement, but there will be efforts to at least stabilize the trade relationship with Washington and to protect German investments there. Germany also needs the United States to balance Chinese efforts to take over key German firms and to shape the international system in its image.30

On defense spending, the spd ran against the Merkel pledge to increase outlays to 2 percent of gdp as a form of kowtowing to Trump. The coalition agreement makes some vague statement about increasing defense spending, but links these increases euro for euro to increases in development assistance. The cdu has kept the Defense Ministry with von der Leyen remaining as minister, but she was immediately confronted with a scathing report on the poor state of the Bundeswehr and of its equipment from the spd Parliamentary Commissioner for the Bundeswehr, Hans Peter Bartels.31 Germany will have to take defense more seriously as both the chancellor and outgoing Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel have made the point that the changes in America’s European policies go beyond Trump. The efforts to work with France on a more European defense effort along with the nato framework nations approach will continue and German troops will remain part of the nato stabilization force in the Baltics. Germany will also enhance its efforts in cybersecurity.

In its overall approach toward the United States, continuity and buying time will come at the subnational level and in civil society with an important role for outreach to governors, mayors, the private sector, academia, think tanks and foundations in keeping things going at the working level until the national political level stabilizes. The German-American relationship is one with a wide base and not one only centered in Berlin and Washington.32


Overall the implications of Merkel 4.0 for German foreign policy are not promising. Germany will not take on the leadership role many in the West would like to see. It is likely to be even less decisive than before given the many splits within the coalition and the beginning of a succession struggle to replace an increasingly lame duck chancellor. This is very bad news for a West which seems to be collapsing from within while it faces a hostile Russia, a predatory China, and an unstable southern neighborhood. Germany has proved to be a good partner, but one that has an underdeveloped sense of leadership or of offering public goods in its role as Europe’s leading power. It continues to have a small strategic elite and lacks a strategic culture needed for its new and dangerous environment. It has proved an effective geoeconomic power, but has yet to grasp what it means to be more than that.

Merkel 4.0 is likely to be a transitional and unruly government which will bridge the end of the Merkel era and the start of a new one led by a new generation of leaders. It is instructive that those members of the cdu and the spd least happy with the new GroKo are the youngest members. As representatives from new generations now lead Austria, France, and Italy, Germany is not far behind. Although the cabinet has an average age of 51.2—seven years older than the average for the general population—it does contain a few more younger faces, women, and perhaps some new energy. The entry into the cabinet of Julia Klöckner and Jens Spahn from the cdu and Franziska Giffey of the spd are indicators of this coming change. The question is whether Germany and Europe have the time to wait for these new leaders.


Rick Noack, “Germany won’t become the ‘leader of the free world’ after all, and the Germans don’t mind,” The Washington Post, 21 February 2018; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


The data are from the election analysis of Forschungsgruppe Wahlen E.V., “Bundestagswahl 24 September 2017;” available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


All these data are taken from the Forschungsgruppe Wahlen (see note 2).


Körber Foundation, “The Berlin Pulse 2017: German Foreign Policy in Perspective,” 38; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


Ibid., 33.


Quoted in Tobias Buck, “spd ousts Gabriel from German cabinet,” The Financial Times, 9 March 2018.


“German ministers respond to Horst Seehofer’s Islam comments,” Deutsche Welle, 17 March 2018; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


Matthew Karnitschnig, “Germany goes Rogue,” Politico, 6 December 2017; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


“The Berlin Pulse” (see note 4), 36, 37.


See Matthias Matthijs and Erik Jones, “This Was the Worst Possible German Election for Europe,” Foreign, 26 September 2017; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


The agreement can be found at: “Ein neuer Aufbruch für Europa Eine neue Dynamik für Deutschland Ein neuer Zusammenhalt für unser Land Koalitionsvertrag zwischen cdu, csu und spd,” Berlin, 7 February 2018, 152–153; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


Claire Jones and Cuy Chazan, “Germany wary of nominating Weidmann as head of ecb,” The Financial Times, 8 March 2018.


Anne Sylvaine Chassany, Guy Chazan, and Mehreen Khan, “Macron pushes Merkel hard on eurozone reform,” The Financial Times, 17/18 March 2018.


Anne Applebaum, “The German election gives the country a reality check,” The Washington Post, 24 September 2017; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


Eric Langenbacher, “Tschüss, Perfidious Albion: German Reactions to Brexit,” German Politics and Society 35, no. 3 (2017): 69–85: Christian Odendahl, “Germany’s Biggest Brexit Boon: Immigrants,” Politico 18 December 2017; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


Andrew Rettman,” Germany still backs Russia gas pipeline,” eu Observer, 5 March 2018; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


“Regierung lehnt sanktionen gegen Schröder ab,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 March 2018; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


The Berlin Pulse (see note 4), 33, 34.


Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, Politbarometer, March 2018; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


“The Berlin Pulse” (see note 4), 33–40.


Ellen Ehni, “84 Prozent gegen Türkei in der eu,” ard-DeutschlandTrend, 7 September 2017; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


“Infratest Dimap,” ard-DeutschlandTrend, June 2017), 13; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


Rosa Burc and Burak Copur, “Deutsche Türkeipolitik unter Merkel: eine Kritische Bilanz,” Institut Français des Relations Internationales, Paris, September 2017, 25.


For a detailed account of the development of Merkel’s policy, including interviews with the key players both in Germany and the eu, see Robin Alexander, Die Getriebenen: Merkel und die Flüchtlingspolitik: Report aus dem Innern der Macht (Munich, 2017).


Ein neuer Aufbruch (see note 11), 152–153.


Juliane Schäuble and Christian Böhme, “Deutschland sollte weniger über Erdogan reden,” Der Tagesspiegel, 28 January 2018; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


Amanda Sloat, “The West’s Turkey Conundrum,” Brookings Institution, Washington, February 2018, 14; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


Kemal Kiri ci, Turkey and the West: Fault Lines in a Troubled Alliance (Washington, 2017), 192–193. For a treatment of the German relationship with Turkey see, Stephen F. Szabo, “Germany and Turkey: The Unavoidable Partnership,” Brookings Institution, Washington, March 2018.


The Berlin Pulse (see note 4), 34.


Liz Alderman, “Wary of China, Europe and Others Push Back on Foreign Takeovers,” The New York Times, 15 March 2018; available at, accessed 17 April 2018; Francois Godement and Abegael Vasselier, “China at the Gates: A new power audit of eu-China relations,” European Council on Foreign Relations, London, December 2017; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


“Germany’s lack of military readiness ‘dramatic,’ says Bundeswehr commissioner,” Deutsche Welle, 2 February 2018; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.


See Frederik Bozo et al., “Suspicious Minds: U.S.-German Relations in the Trump Era,” Transatlantic Academy, Washington, 2017; available at, accessed 17 April 2018.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Stephen F. Szabo is currently a Senior Fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and Adjunct Lecturer in European Studies at sais, Johns Hopkins University. He has published widely on European and German politics and foreign policies, including. The Successor Generation: International Perspectives of Postwar Europeans (Boston, 1983), The Diplomacy of German Unification (New York, 1992), Parting Ways: The Crisis in the German-American Relationship (Washington, 2004), and Germany, Russia and the Rise of Geo-Economics (London, 2015). E-mail: