A fourth term for Angela Merkel: The alternatives are frightening

At a moment of unnerving American nativism, Russia’s international subversion of democracy, Chinese expansionism, and European uncertainty driven by a divided Britain’s unhappiness, anything that represents a continuum of live-and-let-live liberal democracy is to be welcomed.

On a weekend when Italy goes to the polls with the very real prospect that the reptilian Silvio Berlusconi, aged 81 and carrying the scars of one court case after another, may again be kingmaker, the deal allowing Angela Merkel secure a fourth term as Germany’s chancellor seems to offer some reassurance. 

The Social Democrats agreed to another “grand coalition” with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. 

The deal was reached despite strident opposition, especially from its younger members, within the Social Democrats. 

How long the coalition will endure or how influential the Social Democrats will be, or will want to be, in modifying Mrs Merkel’s austere economic policies remains to be seen.

However, one thing that does not remain to be seen is the alternative, the what might come next — the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is now the biggest opposition party in parliament so the new government’s stability will be regularly and sharply challenged. 

It is a reality of politics — and life — that before you dismiss one option, the alternatives must be considered. 

In that context, Mrs Merkel’s fourth coming is, for Germany and Europe, very welcome indeed.

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