By: Marcus Tanner
An enfeebled Angela Merkel means a weaker, less courageous Germany – which will not do any of the Balkan states hoping to join the EU any favours.
Like Britain’s Theresa May, Angela Merkel has come out of her general election looking a lot weaker than when she went in.
Weeks ago, the talk was only of how massive her new majority would be. Now, like Mrs May, she is back in office but not really in power.
In some ways, she did worse than Mrs May, who at least polled a respectable 43 per cent of the national vote. Mrs Merkel, by contrast, limped home with under 33 per cent, the worst performance for the Christian Democrats, the CDU, since the late-1940s.
As the main opposition Social Democrats, the SPD, fared even more badly, there is no doubt she will head the next government. But the mathematics of assembling a majority in parliament look complex.
As the SPD has refused to join a new coalition government with her, and as she cannot afford to go near the far-right Alternative for Germany, AfD, she will have to look for partners on the left among the Greens and on the right among the Free Democrats to get 50 per cent of the seats.
Assuming this so-called Jamaican coalition ever takes shape – so named after the parties’ respective colours – it is hard to see it providing Germany – or Europe – with much direction.
For the Balkans, and for the would-be EU member states in the region especially, this is not good news.