Germany celebrates 16 years of reunification today, against a background of continuing east-west divisions and political uncertainty. Festivities are already under way in the northern town of Kiel, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to give a speech later today. But the fanfare has a hollow ring. The population of East Germany has fallen by nearly a million since 1990, as people move away in search of a better life.
Wages in the east are 23 percent lower and unemployment more than 8 percent higher than in the west. Far-right parties are now represented in three out of five of the former Communist states. And Angela Merkel’s Conservative CDU party and sister party, the CSU, are languishing in the polls, after struggling to deliver reforms.