Recent German polls report plummeting support for Chancellor
Q. Is Merkel's right-wing coalition government -- the Christian Democrats,
A. It is in disarray and, in the view of the public, very unpopular. There is a chance if Merkel's party loses the three state elections (Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate) that will be coming up in the next year, the party will turn against her and try to find another leader, because a lot of these politicians realize their own future is at stake.
The problems with Merkel really have come to the fore with the euro crisis. For a number of months earlier this year, there was a chance to contain the problems with
The smarter thing to do would've been to pay about
A. They're doing well because the drop in the euro has enabled their strong export industries to acquire a new advantage. They're able to sell their cars and their machine tools and other equipment to
Q. Was it a sign of Merkel's unpopularity that it took three votes in the
A. Yes. This is a case where you would've thought the governing majority would've easily been able to confirm their choice for the presidency, but the opposition Social Democrats and the
Merkel has systematically emulated former Chancellor
Q. How many troops do they have in
A. I think they're up to about four to five thousand.
Q. And they've been engaged in combat?
A. Even though they're in the north, around Kunduz, there was a serious incident in which a German officer called in an airstrike on an oil tanker, and about a hundred civilians were killed because they were trying to siphon off the gasoline. This also was a big embarrassment and nearly cost Guttenberg his job.
Q. How did this relate to the resignation of the former president,
A. The former president sought to defend the presence of German troops (in
Q. Had he been a challenger to her earlier?
A. He wasn't a political threat to her in any sense within her party, but he was clearly upset that she did not speak out on his behalf. He believed his words were misconstrued, and he expected greater support from the government itself.
Q. What has happened to the great French-German coalition, which is at the heart of the
A. One of the more ominous developments of our age, in terms of where
Then after World War II,
But now, you have in Chancellor Merkel, somebody who grew up in the east, so she has less of a personal attachment to
Q. Germans have looked down on these southern countries haven't they?
A. Yes, there's a feeling that they have sacrificed, they've worked hard to build up prosperity in their country and then they look to what they disparagingly call the "Club Med" countries and they say, "Well, they get to still enjoy fiestas and long afternoons at the beach rather than working hard, the way that Germans do."
Q. How does Merkel get on with President Sarkozy of
A. Merkel and Sarkozy simply don't get along together; they have a different view of the world. She is much more of a calm, rational, scientific thinker; he is much more mercurial. It's clear that every time they have a meeting, they come away from it more and more distant from each other. This is another key reason why
Q. How close are Merkel's relations with Obama?
A. There again, I think they've had a difficult time communicating. They do get along reasonably well. Obama's been disappointed that Merkel hasn't been more forthcoming in sending more troops to
Q. In the aftermath of the Israeli commando attack on the Turkish ship trying to break the
A. One strong feature of German foreign policy has been its unwavering support for
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