Arthur Goldhammer

Arthur Goldhammer is a writer, translator, and Affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard. He blogs at French Politics. Follow him on Twitter: @artgoldhammer.

Recent Articles

The Permanent Becomes Ephemeral: Merkel Steps Back

In Germany, Angela Merkel announces her intention to step down as party leader. What are the implications for the European Union?

AP Photo/Francisco Seco German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for an EU summit in Brussels. T his week Angela Merkel announced that she will step down as chair of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in December and seek no further elective office. Commentators who had previously been trumpeting the two recent electoral debacles that led to this announcement, first in Bavaria and then, last Sunday, in Hesse, abruptly changed their tone to praise the dignified ending Merkel had devised for her own story. It was as if everyone sought to paraphrase Shakespeare, to the effect that nothing in her tenure became her like the leaving of it. Such a dismissive judgment hardly does justice to the woman who has dominated her party for the past 18 years and who reigned as chancellor for 13 and still counting (although she pledged only not to run again in 2021, when her term is up, many people think she cannot survive that long once she relinquishes the party chair). The number of politicians who...

Is Another Youth Rebellion in the Making?

It’s been half a century since young people around the world asserted that the times were “a-changin’.” Could another youth rebellion be in the making?

Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Young Socialist leader Kevin Kühnert speaks at the SPD convention in Bonn O n Sunday, January 21, German Social Democrats gathered at a special party convention in Bonn narrowly gave the green light to further discussions with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats about forming a new Grand Coalition, or GroKo. Now comes word, however, that German youth opposed to a continuation of the GroKo are responding to calls to join the SPD in order to be in a position to vote against a new deal with the chancellor when the final agreement is put to a vote of the full party membership as promised by party leader Martin Schulz. At the Bonn convention, one of the most outspoken opponents of a new GroKo was Kevin Kühnert , the 28-year-old leader of the JuSos, or Young Socialists. Despite cries of “Foul!” from party elders, Kühnert insists that he sees “no problem” with enrolling new members as long as they share the basic values of the SPD. The JuSos have...

Germany: Can the Center Hold?

Coalition talks between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats have begun. Will the German center hold, or will the talks end in collapse and an end of the Merkel era?

Rex Features via AP Images
Rex Features via AP Images German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin I t was not long ago that Angela Merkel was being touted as “the leader of the Free World.” She seemed to be without rivals for the title. Donald Trump, besotted with illusions of America Firstism, had abdicated. Theresa May lay buried in the rubble of the Brexitquake. And Emmanuel Macron, just 39 years old and without political or foreign-policy experience, seemed too wet behind the ears to take on the role. Merkel, with 12 years as chancellor behind her and the highest approval rating of any Western leader, was the only plausible candidate. But then came the Bundestag election of last September 23, and overnight Mutti’s invincibility vanished. It was bad enough that Merkel’s party, an alliance of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its even more conservative Bavarian sister, the Christian Social Union (CSU), turned in its worst performance since 1949 . Adding insult to injury, Merkel...

The French Right Goes Wrong

France’s Republican Party has chosen a new leader, Laurent Wauquiez, who did not hesitate to divide the party in order to conquer it. Now, having expelled his erstwhile comrades of the center-right, he has no alternative but to try to poach voters from the extremist Front National.

Sipa via AP Images Newly elected president of France's Parti Républicain, Laurent Wauquiez O n December 10, the card-carrying members of France’s Parti Républicain elected Laurent Wauquiez as their new leader. But the party he hopes to shape into a vehicle for recapturing the French presidency is but a pale shadow of the political machine built by Jacques Chirac and transformed by Nicolas Sarkozy. How did the party that dominated French politics from 1995 to 2012 end up where it is today? One reason for the Republicans’ dilemma is that the incumbent president, Emmanuel Macron, has occupied political territory that the right once claimed as its own. As prime minister he chose a Republican, Édouard Philippe, and two other Republicans, Bruno Lemaire and Gérald Darmanin, were tapped to occupy the top posts at the finance and budget ministries, the key positions in domestic policymaking. In his presidential run Macron eagerly wooed center-right voters left standing at the altar when their...

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