European Council on Foreign Relations

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Germany votes: what does Bulgaria think?

In the fourth of this series viewing the German elections from elsewhere in Europe, we ask what the Bulgarians think about the vote. 

Germany’s elections are largely a non-issue in Bulgaria, where political life is consumed by a three-month long mass protest demanding the Socialist-led cabinet’s resignation. Germany is also absent on the main foreign policy issue that preoccupies Bulgarians: the war in Syria, which affects Bulgaria thanks to refugees crossing from Turkey. Politicians and pundits alike break spears unpicking the policies of Russia, UK, US, and France, but German foreign policy passivity keeps the country off the radar screen. That’s surprising, as Bulgaria has often taken clues on European matters after looking closely at Berlin. What is more, the centre-right government of Boyko Borissov, in power until March this year, courted Angela Merkel, extolling the virtues

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Germany votes: what does Italy think?

In the third blog post in this series, we ask what Italians think about the German election. 

As elsewhere, Italians are waiting for Germany to vote with a keen sense of anticipation. But they are not waiting so much for the results and the unveiling of a victorious coalition of whatever make up, as they are waiting for the dictates of the election campaign to end and Berlin to apply itself to key European issues. September 22nd is seen as an excuse for Germany’s politicians to avoid discussing or acting on difficult issues.

Italy’s current government is investing a lot of time and energy in its European links, and on several occasions has called for moves towards banking, fiscal, economic, and political union. Germany is acknowledged as the key partner in these matters – both to show accountability for the tough economic and financial commitments that have been made, and because

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Germany votes: what does France think?

This is the second in a series of blog posts on how the German elections are being seen elsewhere in the EU. 

Having essentially given up hope of a major political shift in Germany, the French are watching their big neighbour's federal elections with remarkable equanimity. The complex electoral arithmetic that might lead to a surprise eviction of Chancellor Angela Merkel from the chancellery is understood only by a tiny minority of observers. Most policy actors and citizens expect Merkel to continue to be the German leader France will have to deal with.

This prospect is now more palatable than it would have been a few months ago. The increased flexibility the European Commission, with the support of Berlin, has shown of late on the application of austerity, the resumption of growth in the eurozone (however tenuous), and the fact that Angela Merkel does not dismiss the principle

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Germany votes: what does Poland think?

This is the first of a series of blog posts looking at how the German elections are being viewed by some of its EU partners. 

The Polish-German relationship has proved to be counter-cyclical during the euro crisis. While most countries, most notably those in the South, looked at the German hegemon in an increasingly critical way, there has been a remarkable rapprochement between Warsaw and Berlin. The new community of interests between Warsaw and Berlin has rested on two major components. First, Poland supported the German narrative of the crisis as a debt crisis (as opposed to the Anglo Saxon reading, focusing on macroeconomic imbalances and the institutional deficits of the eurozone). Poland’s new found economic stability was seen as further supporting evidence for Berlin’s insistence that structural reforms and austerity are the key to economic success: Poland took similar

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A less German Europe?

The recent announcement by Wolfgang Schäuble that " there will have to be another programme in Greece" blew some fresh air into the lazy electoral campaign in Germany in which Europe has not yet played any significant role. Although no major controversy over Europe is to be expected in the last five weeks before the vote on 22 September, Schäuble’s declaration fuels the debate about the next government’s European policy. After the tacit concession that the austerity policy has not proved to be a success, another German dogma – no more bail-outs! - seems to be falling apart. Are we observing the decline of the “German Europe”, built so painstakingly by Berlin during the years of crisis?

In fact, the concept of a German Europe is not so much a description of a new EU reality as it is an expression of concern about the state of the debate and the European spirit in Germany. True, in

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