Merkel’s conservatism not comparable to Tories’

Your otherwise excellent coverage of the German elections was undermined by the description of Angela Merkel, and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), as “conservatives”.

There is not true in the sense that a reader in Ireland would assume to be the case, i.e. that the CDU is comparable to English Conservatism. It isn’t. The German party closest to the English Tories is the ‘liberal’ FDP, which defends the capitalist interest against encroachment by the ‘social state’. The FDP failed to achieve the 5% threshold needed to enter the new Bundestag.

The CDU/CSU campaign advocated strengthening the social state, maintaining a high-skill industrial base, ensuring the survival of the eurozone, along with all of its member states (despite the cost), increasing family and childcare allowances, exporting elements of the ‘social market economy’ (eg, its apprenticeship system) to other European countries, and promoting minimum wages through collective bargaining between employers and trade unions.

While the defence, and the deepening, of the German ‘social state’ could be described as a type of Conservatism, none of the above elements of the CDU programme could conceivably form any part of a Tory election manifesto.

Philip O’Connor


Dublin 13

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