Listen to this article
This article is from today’s FT Opinion email. Sign up to receive a daily digest of the big issues straight to your inbox.
The collapse of the coalition talks in Germany matters not only for Angela Merkel’s compatriots, but for the rest of Europe too. For all the leeriness in Berlin of the obligations of leadership, decisions taken in the chancellery on a range of issues — Russia, refugees, the euro — have mattered a great deal in recent years.
As Gideon Rachman argues in his column, the political crisis in Germany has “global implications”. The ramifications will be felt most keenly in Paris, where Emmanuel Macron had been banking on German support for his ambitious plans for the creation of new EU institutions and the reform of existing ones. Whether or not Ms Merkel eventually manages to form a government and serve a fourth term, President Macron’s vision is in danger of becoming a dead letter.
Domestically, Ms Merkel now contemplates a situation in which she has more or less run out of plausible coalition partners. As Wolfgang Munchau points out, the centre-left SPD “now lingers at 20 per cent in the polls”, while the liberal FDP, which caused the talks to collapse, has still not recovered from the experience of cohabitation with Ms Merkel’s CDU between 2009 and 2013.
There are so many possible permutations in play that firm predictions of the chancellor’s fate are impossible. But, Wolfgang says, international observers who have come to see her as the “leader of the western world” should start looking elsewhere.
In the second of six winning student columns for the FT’s Future of Europe Project, Rositsa Kratunkova, a student at Sciences Po in Paris, argues that tax competition undermines European values of solidarity. The right to attract inward investment has given corporations too much leeway, she says.
Hammond’s critics lack the experience to know better: It is Philip Hammond’s bad luck, Janan Ganesh writes, to retain a grown up’s sense of economic management as an “imperfectible art” just as his party is losing it.
China’s investment offers opportunities — and threats: Former Danish prime minister and ex-secretary general of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, makes the case for robust screening of Chinese investment in some of Europe’s most sensitive industrial sectors.
Best of the rest
The EU and Jamaica — the next uncertainty: A few years ago many Europeans complained about a strong Germany. Now they are concerned about a country that is wrapped up in itself, writes Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
America is now an outlier on driving deaths: The US has the most dangerous roads in the industrialised world, writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times. Doing something about it will take political courage.
Inclusive language: there is nothing to fear from a little progress: Danielle Bousquet and Francoise Vouillot argue in Le Monde that language has played a role in the subordination of women.
Bitcoin bubble is the start of something big: While the internet currency seems doomed to fail, its freedom from state meddling has set a benchmark for the future, writes Hugo Rifkind in The Times.
What you’ve been saying
The EU parliament has become remote too — letter from Vernon Bogdanor in London
“Sir, Tony Barber is right to say that deeper integration is not the answer to EU’s problems (‘Deeper integration is desirable, but will be difficult’, November 15). He is also right to say that the EU must be brought closer to the lives of ordinary citizens. But I doubt if French president Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to elect some European Parliament members on pan-EU party lists will help much. Sadly, the European Parliament has itself become part of an alienated superstructure, remote from Europe’s citizens. Perhaps that is inevitable in a legislature representing 27 different member states with wide differences in politics, history and culture.”
Comment from Tim Young on Guy Chazan’s article from Berlin, Angela Merkel faces worst political crisis of her career
“While I hate to intrude with my UK concerns, I speculatively wonder if this might provide the UK with an excuse to postpone Brexit, ideally by revoking Article 50, pending a time when the EU is in a more stable state to deal with it.”
Tax cuts have been tested in Kansas. And failed — letter from Niels Erich in San Francisco
“For now, tax policy is held hostage by ideology. Congress could have passed meaningful tax reform long ago, had the process remained focused on simplicity, fairness and revenue-neutrality. A 25 per cent corporate rate, easing of expensing rules and a favourable repatriation rate with added incentives for infrastructure and job creation could have passed by wide margins. On the individual side fewer and lower tiers, fewer people paying no tax, and elimination of all but maybe the mortgage interest, charitable donation and state and local tax deductions, could have spurred growth and improved collection without exploding the deficit. But no.”
Cash is no longer king in a changing Beijing
The centre of the city is being transformed as Xi Jinping tightens his grip
Whitehall must create a regional industrial strategy
More power must be ceded to local control, particularly in education and employment
Instant Insight: Theresa May’s Brexit and Budget challenges risk political capital
The UK prime minister has a tricky week ahead with two big events, writes Sebastian Payne
Free Lunch: Who should govern the euro?
Return fiscal and structural policy to nation-states, but centralise further on banking
Meet the winners and judges for the Future of Europe Project
The student winners and the team of experts that chose them
FT View: Time for the UK to come clean on green energy taxation
The government is committed to renewables, so it should spell out the costs
FT View: Angela Merkel’s intimations of political mortality
The collapse of coalition talks leaves Germany’s chancellor few options
The Big Read
The Big Read: Lex in depth: Hammond’s housebuilding budget fix will not repair market
What if a lack of homes is not the real problem?