Political Overview: Merkel doubtful about Trump’s reliability, major SPD government reshuffle, government consultations with Indian and Chinese leadership

The serious illness of Erwin Sellering, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s long-time Minister-President, made reappointments within the SPD necessary. Photo Credit: Olaf Kosinsky/Skillshare.eu

Chancellor Merkel has reaped positive critics from around the globe for her speech on the new importance of European self-reliance as a reaction to U.S. President Trump’s aggressive stance towards multilateral partnerships. At a rally last Sunday she stated that „the times when we could fully rely on others are partly over.“ Merkel’s remarks signal a departure from the historically close transatlantic relationship towards a more self-assertive, united European Union. Among those siding with the chancellor in her rebuke of Trump’s reluctance to compromise were not only newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron but also Merkel’s prime challenger for the September 2017 Federal Elections, SPD lead candidate Martin Schulz who labeled Trump’s conduct as being „not acceptable“. The G7 summit’s final communique also reflected the estrangement between the U.S. and its international partners with frustrated member states calling out the U.S’s unwillingness to cooperate, especially on climate change. Now that Trump has publicly announced to unilaterally withdraw from the Paris agreement, political tensions are expected to increase further.

Due to health issues, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s long-time Minister-President Erwin Sellering has surprisingly resigned from his position, recommending Minister of Family Affairs Manuela Schwesig as his successor and thus causing a large-scale government reshuffle within the SPD. The party’s secretary general Katharina Barley was chose to assume Schwesig’s cabinet position passing her own job to MP Hubertus Heil. It is the second time Heil will serve his party as secretary general having seen his first spell abruptly ending after the SPD’s historic election defeat in 2009.

While the SPD is personally reorganizing itself, Chancellor Merkel has held meetings with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his Chinese colleague Li Keqiang in the context of the German-Indian and German-Chinese government consultations. Talking about the upcoming G20 meeting and further possibilities to deepen economic exchange, Merkel und Modi agreed on more than €1bn development support for India, more cooperation in the field of renewable energies and a resumption of the stalled free trade negotiations between India and the European Union. The discussions with Keqiang were similarly productive and included a wide range of fields, particularly the issue of climate change and how to counter the U.S.’s latest policy shift.

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