Angela Merkel’s decision to run for a fourth term as German chancellor coincided with the release of a poll showing that 55 percent of the electorate support this decision, with stability seen as the key attribute the long-standing leader would bring to a renewed stint in office.
Proponents of the existing liberal order in Europe are looking to Merkel’s experience and perceived strength as a crucial ballast in the face of the rising tide of populism sweeping Western democracies and seen as posing a challenge to long-standing political structures and certain values underpinning them.
According to Josef Janning, senior policy fellow and head of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Berlin office, “A fourth Merkel term will signal continuity above everything else.”
“In fact, Merkel will become even more active internationally – all German chancellors have followed that pattern in the later years of their time in office,” he explained in emailed comments to CNBC.
Yet the outcome of a pair of upcoming votes will be critical in determining how much support she has from other core European Union (EU) leaders. Italy is set to decide on December 4 whether to back its incumbent Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who in seeking power to make constitutional reforms has staked his leadership on a referendum. If Renzi is compelled to step aside, the door opens more widely for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement to potentially assume power at the next election.
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