Is the end in sight for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel? That is the almost unanimous verdict in today’s press following her massive struggle to have her candidate elected the country’s president.
It is a widely shared opinion it seems. For Green Party MP, Renate Kunast, it is clear that Merkel has been given a “standing count” and is now on the ropes.
Even members of the government have hinted that policy changes might now be on the cards.
Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said: “The coalition must work correctly now. We could celebrate the outcome at the end but must now make more of an effort to work correctly.
Despite having an absolute majority in the federal assembly, yesterday’s session reflected growing disenchantment with the leadership of her nine-month-old centre-right alliance.
It took three rounds of voting over a record breaking nine hours for Christian Wulff, to be elected to the largely ceremonial role. A clear message to Merkel from her own party that she needs to make changes.
The presidential election is normally a formality. A political sideshow. But the backbench rebellion combined with anger over the government’s austerity package meant the vote was eagerly anticipated.
And on a World Cup football free day – it even managed to overshadow the fortunes of the national team by being shown on giant screens outside parliament.
Pressure on Merkel from within her own party is likely to rise in the run-up to six state elections next year, where further setbacks for the CDU could force her to step aside or call an early election.