Angela Merkel is all too familiar with the loss of power. After all, her career began with her party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union, losing power.
At the time, the party had become rigid under then Chancellor Helmut Kohl. It had isolated itself from social developments, and it had become a conservative party in the worst sense — a party resistant to change. The CDU had lost power because it had stopped taking chances, and because Mr. Kohl had expected too little of the party. Ms. Merkel recognized the party’s shortcomings at the time.
Is she now expecting too much of her party?
Chancellor Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees could be the most spectacular and far-reaching decision of her chancellorship. But it could also be the decision that alienates Ms. Merkel from her party, the CDU, more than any other decision in the past. Has Ms. Merkel, at the height of her power, actually programmed her demise?
There is no criticism of Ms. Merkel, a member of the party’s steering committee said after the committee’s meeting on Monday. Well, he conceded five minutes later, the mood is a little fragile at the moment. Or perhaps the mood is even shifting, he added half an hour later, after reporting from the party’s local organizations.
Long suppressed conservative reflexes are now being combined with pragmatic concerns: Can we do this? It is no longer a matter of perceived conservatism. Suddenly Merkel the problem solver is now the cause of a problem.