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Merkel Escapes Domestic Trouble by Visiting India

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Delhi today, for consultations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. The trip gave her an opportunity to leave a lot of trouble behind.

While big discussions were going on in her conservative party CDU, Angela Merkel boarded an Airbus A340 run by the Federal Defense Ministry Transport Wing which took her to India, for government consultations. The trade relations between Germany and the largest democracy on Earth ,with 1.3 billion inhabitants, were at the top of the agenda.

Small Entourage

Merkel is being accompanied by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Education Minister Anja Karlicek and Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner. Her Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier was going to join Merkel too, but he stumbled and fell on his face during an event the other day. He broke his nose in the accident and cancelled his participation in the trip.

“We want to tighten our bilateral relations further, learn from India and place our technological developments in India”, Chancellor Merkel said as she left. Digitization, innovation and climate protection will be discussed with Prime Minister Modi. Several cooperation agreements will be signed.

In a letter, the Human Rights Committee of the Berlin Bundestag asked Merkel to talk about Human Rights abuses in the Jammu and Kashmir regions, where people were arrested arbitrarily and tortured. The security policy in general and the relations to China are on the agenda too.

‘Carpet of Fog’

In Germany, Angela Merkel experienced a few rough days due to her party’s bad result in the state legislature elections in Thuringia last Sunday. In the federal state, the CDU had always been the strongest party, since Germany’s reunification. This time it came in third, behind ‘The Left’ and the extremist right-wing ‘AfD’.

Merkel welcomed Prime Minister Modi in Berlin in 2015. Photo: Government of India

This fiasco lead to harsh criticism within the CDU. Especially Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is both head of the party and Germany’s Defense Minister, and Angela Merkel were attacked verbally. The CDU’s former floor leader at the Bundestag, Friedrich Merz, said Merkel’s “inaction and lack of governance” had been placed on the country “like a carpet of fog”. The image of the government was “lousy”.

Several MPs and other high-ranking CDU members shot back at Merz. Health Minister Jens Spahn hinted the CDU should not try to copy the SPD, which has literally drowned in the past years. “We are in the process of making the same mistake another major party made.” The CDU had just had a debate about its leadership, he said. Spahn was referring to the party congress in December of 2018 during which Kramp-Karrenbauer defeated Merz and became party leader.

Defense for Merkel

While Kramp-Karrenbauer’s leadership style is under attack from within too, a group of 15 CDU MPs defended Merkel against Merz by saying the behavior of “some individuals” was “extremely harmful to the CDU and self-destructive”.