Merkel’s party hammered in two state elections

Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) suffered big defeats in two state elections yesterday. It lost in both Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, collecting only about one-fourth of the vote in each.

Angela Merkel, the CDU leader, will be stepping down as chancellor. Yesterday’s results suggest that her successor as party leader may be in for a difficult time.

Germany has been hit much less hard by the Wuhan coronavirus than have the UK, Spain, France, Italy, and the U.S. Deaths per capita in Germany are about half the number in these nations.

The German economy has, of course, been socked by the lockdowns imposed in response to the virus. GDP contracted by about 5 percent in Germany last year.

That’s better than the Euro-zone as a whole. Its GDP dropped by almost 7 percent last year. However, in the U.S., GDP shrank by only about 3.5 percent.

Germany has not had good success vaccinating its people against the virus. As with the EU as a whole, vaccinations have lagged compared to the U.S. and the UK. To make matters worse, Germany has stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine due to fears that it causes potentially deadly blood clots.

I don’t know of many nations that hit the trifecta of comparatively low death rates from the virus, little economic shrinkage, and rapid vaccinations. Israel is the only one that comes to mind. It leads the world in the race to vaccinate its entire population, has had fewer per capita deaths than even Germany, and experienced only about a 2.5 percent dip in GDP last year.

Germany did reasonably well by two of these three measures compared to other similar countries, but its ruling party still seems to be in trouble. Part of the problem may be scandals involving prominent CDU politicians (though not Merkel) who are accused of profiting from public contracts for face masks and of questionable ties to Azerbaijan (not related to the pandemic).

Voters usually find corruption off-putting, and are less likely to forgive it when things aren’t going well on one or more important front.

I don’t do exit questions, but if I do wonder how Israel’s ruling party will fare in upcoming elections. As noted, its response to the pandemic has been the envy of the world (or should be). However, Prime Minister Netanyahu is on trial for alleged corruption.

The evidentiary stage of that trail is scheduled to begin in early April, shortly after elections. But the three criminal charges have been levied and are there for all to see.

Stay tuned.

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