The day after Angela Merkel announced she would stand down as CDU leader and not seek another term as chancellor once her current one expires in 2021, newspaper editors in Germany captured a turning point in the country’s modern political history.
— The Deutsche Welle website said a “Berlin quake” had followed Sunday’s state election in Hesse and that the “grand coalition has turned upside down.”
— Bild led with a standout phrase from Merkel’s speech on Monday: “I wasn’t born chancellor and I have never forgotten that.”
— Spiegel Online said there was “praise for Merkel” but “criticism for [Horst] Seehofer,” the interior minister and leader of the CDU’s sister party, the CSU.
— An opinion piece in Tagesschau praised the decision and said “Merkel has understood.” Anita Fünffinger said the chancellor was making a “sovereign” decision, “free of world-weariness” and that “others should follow suit.” (Translation: Move over Seehofer.) Merkel was “almost cheerful” as she announced her decision yesterday, according to Fünffinger.
— An opinion piece in Frankfurter Allgemeine exclaimed: “At ease!” Michael Hanfeld argued the SPD (the conservatives’ reluctant federal coalition partner) needed to ask itself some hard questions, as it seemed like a party that had “given up” and “was offering nothing but the possible break-up of the coalition.”
— The same paper said “fierce debate” and “heated discussions” had broken out over who should succeed Merkel in the CDU presidency, with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the party’s secretary-general, and Friedrich Merz, an old Merkel foe who quit politics 14 years ago, throwing their hats in the ring.
— T-Online ran a profile of Merz, whom the paper sardonically called Merkel’s “old acquaintance,” asking: “What can the man do?”
— Die Welt said “after 14 years, Friedrich Merz reports back again.”
— Bild also reported that a group of five CDU politicians wanted to “push Merkel out of office.” Now Merz, “her biggest enemy,” wants to be her successor, the paper said.
The political leanings of the British papers were clear for all to see as they reacted to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget, delivered Monday.
— The Sun‘s front page celebrated “no tricks … just treats” but Metro sang a different tune, noting there were “tricks and treats.”
— The Guardian’s editorial argued the “self-defeating” policy of austerity was not over, despite Hammond’s assurances to the contrary on Monday.
— The Telegraph focused on “a post-Brexit tax cut for 32 million workers.”
— The Times called the budget “a giveaway gamble,” adding that with Brexit approaching, the chancellor was seeking to “buy off potential Tory and DUP rebels with a series of targeted giveaways.”
— The Daily Mail reported that Hammond had “cracked a series of gags about toilets” in an “uncharacteristic display of budget humor.”
— In an opinion piece, Julia Hartley-Brewer in the Telegraph responded to the announcement of a commemorative Brexit coin Monday, asking: Why 50p instead of a £1 coin?
Caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said Monday he had failed to form a new government almost two months after the country’s inconclusive election.
— Dagens Nyheter reported that Speaker Andreas Norlén would bring together the various party leaders in the hope of “untying the knot” of deadlocked coalition talks. “It gives no guarantees for success, but I can at least learn more,” he said.
— Expressen said Norlén had asked four different would-be coalition permutations to agree to meet him on Tuesday.
— Svenska Dagbladet said the “fruitless exploration” was over and reckoned there was hope for progress with the speaker more closely involved.
French papers focused on developments at home, as things get worse for far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
— Le Parisien said the most important Masonic authority in France had called for the temporary suspension of the France Unbowed leader, citing his “behavior towards judges, police officers and journalists” in the furor over corruption allegations and raids.
— A survey published in Paris Match showed President Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings were still “stuck in the mud,” while Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was “playing his cards right.”
— Libération characterized the PM’s recently announced civil service reforms as “anti-social.”
— Le Monde reported on a premature cold snap.