Angela Merkel not only achieved re-election to the German Chancellorship yesterday, she also acquired the kind of coalition she really wanted. Instead of electing another compromise Government (Merkel had previously been forced to share power with the centre-left SDP) German voters endorsed conservatism by flocking to Merkel’s CDP and to the right-liberal Free Democrats. She will now be free to push forward with the business friendly, low tax policies that she believes will guide Germany out of recession.
This is an interesting moment for European politics. The German election demonstrates, once again, how poorly the Euro-left have adapted to the post-crash world. This should, by rights, be their moment – the discrediting of financial institutions, distrust in the political and business class and massive state intervention should be pushing voters into the open arms of the centre-left. Instead centre-right parties are polling well across Europe, to the extent that in Germany they accounted for a record 48 per cent of the vote.
The danger, for Europe’s centre-right, comes from complacency. As voters place their trust in conservatives, conservatives must demonstrate that they are able, and willing, to live up to that trust. The left may be proving unable to meet the challenges posed by the crises that afflict European economies but that doesn’t mean that voters are happy with a return to the status quo. The centre-right has a chance to reshape Europe in their image but that will require courage and conviction; Angela has proven to Germany that she has both, next week David Cameron must do the same.