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2013年9月25日 (水)

メルケル氏続投 強い経済へ期待示す独総選挙

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 25, 2013
Merkel’s stunning election victory reflects hopes for strong economy
メルケル氏続投 強い経済へ期待示す独総選挙(9月24日付・読売社説)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc, consisting of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, scored a stunning victory in the country’s general election Sunday, virtually guaranteeing her a third term.

If she serves out her third term, she will have been in office for 12 years, surpassing the 11 years served by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to hold that office. Merkel’s tenure would also be the longest ever in Germany.

The bloc’s victory can be attributed to the fact that German voters appreciated her achievements in keeping the German economy on a stable road while the leaders of other European countries were replaced one after another due to fiscal and monetary crises. Her continued term of office will be hailed by the international community, which hopes for a stable business recovery.

Merkel has steered her country, the strongest economic power in Europe, by displaying strong leadership.

The jobless rate, which once topped 10 percent, has been halved under her administration. Exports set a new record in terms of value last year. Merkel has promoted structural reform and deregulation, the agenda she inherited from the previous administration, and reduced the corporate tax rate. These efforts, it may be said, enhanced the international competitiveness of German companies.

Some German voters were deeply unhappy that the country’s financial burden ballooned as a result of its pivotal role in providing financial assistance from the European Union to southern European countries, including financially strapped Greece. However, Merkel’s bloc maintained its top spot during the campaign.

She made tenacious efforts to win over the public by asserting that aiding other European countries to defend the euro was indispensable for the development of the European economy and would serve the national interest of Germany. She was successful in these efforts.

Challenges in 3rd term

Ending the financial crisis in Europe remains the primary agenda to be tackled in Merkel’s third term.

Some southern European countries have complained that Germany’s demand for excessive fiscal austerity as a condition for financial assistance delayed their business recovery.

The eurozone’s structural problems, represented by the fact that it has one currency but fiscal management is conducted separately in each country, remain unsettled. More cooperation will be called for between Germany and other major European countries, including France.

Attention is now focused on how negotiations to establish a stable coalition government will turn out.

The Free Democratic Party, which was the union bloc’s coalition partner before the election, lost its parliamentary seats, making it impossible by a small margin of seats for the bloc to form a government single-handedly. In view of this, the bloc will negotiate with other parties regarding a possible coalition, centering on a grand coalition plan with the Social Democratic Party, which is the second-largest party after the bloc.

To form a grand coalition with the center-left Social Democrats, who support assistance to southern European nations and fiscal union in the eurozone, it will be necessary to iron out policy differences.

Of concern to Japan is that Merkel has not visited this nation since 2008, while she has been keen on bolstering economic relations with China.

In her third term, we hope she will promote an exchange of visits by the prime ministers of the two countries. There must be many subjects to be discussed by the two leaders, including an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the EU and environmental issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 24, 2013)
(2013年9月24日01時31分  読売新聞)


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