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Europe

German Press Review: Internal Conflicts

German editorials on Monday concerned themselves with the apparent power struggle in the country’s conservative Christian Democratic Union and commented on Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s visit to Libya.

Strange bedfellows, wrote the Stuttgarter Zeitung after the German chancellor’s visit to Libya’s strongman, Moammar Gadhafi. An odd collection of new friends they are indeed that Europe, the US and Germany have gathered together since the Sept. 11 attacks. The selection revolves around economic and strategic interests, and preferably both, but not human rights. That is the dangerous thing about these new friends, the paper said: "They are dictatorships with a total disregard for human life, and no one knows whether this trust that the West has placed in them will not some day be abused -- see Saddam Hussein." Of course, Germany, Europe and the US are looking to stabilize a world gone awry and secure the supply of natural resources. But, the paper emphasized, the question is whether handling these countries at arm’s length wouldn't be better for our credibility?

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung turned its attention to what a number of German media outlets believe is a conspiracy within the Christian Democratic Union to discredit and topple party leader Angela Merkel. The paper didn´t seem concerned about the CDU’s upcoming party conference in Düsseldorf. Merkel, the paper said, has simply declared that meeting as hers. There are no lack of calls from within the party to settle the open chancellor candidate question for 2006 right now and in her favor. If this is what a loss of authority looks like, the paper noted, then Angela Merkel has nothing to worry about.

Cologne’s Stadt-Anzeiger, on the other hand, saw the power question in the CDU moving toward a climax. Merkel cannot let the inner-party debate about her leadership abilities, which some people are calling an intrigue, continue. It is bad for her image and that of the party as a whole, the paper said. The critical voices are increasing, even among Merkel’s allies, the paper noted. The CDU lacks guidance and is in danger of losing the public’s faith in its ability to govern.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung pointed to the heavy-handed criticism of Merkel from German business leaders, talked of intrigue and demanded from Germany’s liberal Free Democrats to settle the opposition’s chancellor candidate issue as an obvious sign that the party conference in December could end up being a palace revolt.

The crisis in the CDU resembles the chaos theory, wrote the Saarbrücker Zeitung -- it has a life of its own and cannot be controlled. Angela Merkel, the paper said, no longer holds the reins in her hands. Helplessly she has to watch as the arduously constructed image of the CDU as a competent alternative implodes. The CDU thinks the Bavarian sister party, CSU, is at fault, but that diagnosis is too simple, the paper thought. Instead, too many bad choices have been made or no choices at all.

Bonn’s General-Anzeiger noted that Merkel has lost a lot of public support. People want a party that demonstrates its members have closed ranks, but the CDU and CSU are anything but that. Chancellor Schröder, at least, has stuck to his guns, the paper said, even though there is still the risk of failure.