In two weeks’ time the German parliament will re-open in an unprecedented situation: nearly four months after September’s general election, the country still has no new government. Talks on a new deal between the current ruling coalition parties – Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, and the center-left Social Democrats, or SPD – are not due to begin until January 7.
The delay is eating away at Ms. Merkel’s authority, not least within her own party. “There is no question that Merkel has passed the peak of her power,” says veteran political scientist Heinrich Oberreuter. While talks are ongoing there is still little likelihood of a challenge to her authority, but the delay is frustrating many in her party.