BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s heir apparent shook up German politics Monday by declaring she would step down as the governing party’s leader and not run for chancellor, fueling uncertainty in the country seen as Europe’s anchor of stability amid Brexit and pressure from the far right.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, whose flagging support dropped further after regional Christian Democratic Union lawmakers ignored the party’s instructions, told senior CDU members she won’t seek the chancellorship in next year’s election. The surprise decision upended Merkel’s plan to hand Kramp-Karrenbauer the reins after leading Germany for more than 15 years.
“I took note of this decision with the utmost respect, but I also say that I regret it,” Merkel told reporters, thanking Kramp-Karrenbauer for her work and for agreeing to stay on until a new party leader is chosen. Kramp-Karrenbauer plans to remain in her role as Germany’s defense minister.
The announcement followed days of in-fighting within the party over the election of a governor in the state of Thuringia. Christian Democratic Union legislators there voted with the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) last week to oust a left-wing incumbent.
The CDU representatives not only defied Kramp-Karrenbauer’s advance appeals and undermined her leadership, but broke what is widely regarded as a taboo in post-war German politics around cooperating with extremist parties.
“The AfD stands against everything we as the CDU represent,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters Monday in Berlin.
Manfred Weber, a German member of the European Union parliament who leads a center-right bloc in the EU legislature, told daily newspaper Welt that the situation in Thuringia reflected a Europe that “is in a phase of growing instability; politics is becoming more serious.”
“In general. it is a sign of growing instability among the parties of the middle all across Europe. The parties of the middle must draw their red line to those with radical right tendencies,“Weber said. “This approach from Kramp-Karrenbauer was and is correct.”
Merkel has said she will not run for a fifth term in Germany’s next general election, which is now scheduled for fall 2021. But any shift to the right by the Christian Democrats could trigger a breakup of Merkel’s federal coalition with the center-left Social Democrats and increase the chances of an early national election.
“If it’s up to me, it won’t have any effect on the stability of the grand coalition,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said after announcing her planned withdrawal.
Florian Hense, an analyst at Hamburg-based private bank Berenberg, said the Social Democrats “would have little to gain from provoking early elections.”
But leading figures in Merkel’s party expressed concerns about fallout from the announcement.
Peter Altmaier, Germany’s economy minister and a close Merkel ally, said the Christian Democrats were in “an unusually serious situation.”
Recent polls had Merkel’s conservative block at about 28% support nationally, followed by the left-leaning Greens at about 22%. The Social Democrats are struggling with only about 14% support, about the same as the far-right Alternative for Germany.
Among the names currently being bandied around as future CDU party leaders are Health Minister Jens Spahn and Friedrich Merz, who were beaten to the leadership by Kramp-Karrenbauer in 2018. Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, is also being mentioned as a possible contender.
While Spahn and Laschet are considered centrists, Merz has tried to appeal to the conservative wing of the party that has flirted with the far-right Alternative for Germany. A lawyer once tipped to lead the party in the early 2000s, Merz was sidelined by Merkel before she became chancellor in 2005.
Bavarian governor Markus Soeder, the leader of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian-only sister party to Merkel’s CDU, is also the focus of some speculation.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin that she stood by her decision not to run for a fifth term in 2021, despite the latest development.
The Alternative for Germany welcomed Kramp-Karrenbauer’s resignation, as did Germany’s former domestic intelligence head, Hans-Georg Maassen, a vocal figure on the right of Merkel’s party since his ouster as Germany’s spy chief in 2018.
Alternative for Germany has established itself as a powerful far-right force since its founding in 2013, taking double-digit shares of the vote in regional and national elections. Its success has complicated Germany’s political tradition of governing with multi-party coalitions, as most of its rivals have ruled out working with Alternative for Germany.
The far-right party has successfully wielded populist tactics, emphasizing national self-interest and immigration controls while tolerating anti-Semitism and historical revisionism among its members.
Alternative for Germany’s leader in the state of Thuringia, Bjoern Hoecke, has in the past marched alongside far-right extremists and called for a “180-turn” in the way the country commemorates its Nazi past.
Kramp-Karrenbauer insisted that any Christian Democrats who believe their party can find common ground with AfD should ask themselves “whether they can remain members of the CDU.”
Germany’s foreign minister said on Twitter it was important for all parties to take a “crystal clear position against far-right extremism.”
“Whoever becomes the new chairman of the CDU needs to ensure that the party remains a reliable partner,” Heiko Maas, a member of the Social Democrats, tweeted. “This means the party must draw a line between itself and far-right extremists at all levels.”
David Rising contributed to this report.
No politics in election map revision, co-chairs say – CBC.ca
Two former politicians co-chairing a commission redrawing New Brunswick’s provincial election map say there’ll be no politics involved in their work.
Former Liberal premier Camille Thériault and former Progressive Conservative MP Roger Clinch say they will stick to the letter of the law that requires them to come up with 49 new ridings roughly equal in population.
“Our mandate is very, very clear. It had absolutely nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with gerrymandering,” Thériault said Wednesday as the commission launched its website. “We’re there to follow the piece of legislation that has been put in place.
“We will continue to look straight forward and not think or talk politics, but do what’s best for New Brunswickers within the legislation that we are under.”
Provincial law requires that an independent commission be appointed every 10 years to redraw the 49 electoral districts in the province to reflect changing population numbers.
The new map will take effect for the provincial election scheduled for Oct. 21, 2024, and will have to shift some districts to account for rapid urban growth in the province.
In June, Green MLA Kevin Arseneau alleged the process would involve political trade-offs between the co-chairs to craft ridings beneficial to their former parties.
The three parties in the legislature were asked to suggest names for the commission, but the Green nominees were not chosen because the party refused to have their choices vetted by Premier Blaine Higgs’s office, as the PC and Liberal names were.
“The people on the commission are all very well-respected people, I think, and I don’t think there’s any bias on anyone’s part toward any particular party,” Clinch said.
The six-member commission will hold 12 in-person public meetings and two virtual sessions to sound out New Brunswickers about the new map starting Aug. 23 and continuing to Sept. 15.
“People will dictate to us what they think it should be,” Clinch said. “We have rules and regulations to follow.”
After the first round of meetings, they’ll draft a proposed map that they’ll then take out to a second round of consultations before coming up with a final version within 90 days.
The law requires the commission to calculate the average number of voters in each riding, known as the “electoral quotient.” Thériault said the figure they’ll use is 11,714.
In the new map, each riding’s number of voters must be “as close as reasonably possible” to the quotient, though the commission can deviate by up to 15 per cent to accommodate what are called “communities of interest” and other factors.
In “extraordinary circumstances” such as the need to ensure fair linguistic representation, the commission can deviate from the quotient by up to 25 per cent.
The last redrawing included the creation of Memramcook-Tantramar, which prompted complaints from francophones in the new riding that they were losing their majority-francophone constituency.
At the time, the law allowed only a five-per cent deviation from the average, so the new commission now has more leeway to put the village in a mostly francophone riding.
“We will probably hear from the people in Memramcook,” Thériault said. “But I’m not prejudging how they feel 10 years later.”
Thériault said ideally he’d like to “tighten” some of the sprawling rural ridings in the province, such as Southwest Miramichi–Bay du Vin, which can take more than two hours to drive from end to end.
He also mentioned the expanded footprint of St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton, divided between two provincial ridings, as an example of the “housekeeping” the commission may do when it considers “communities of interest.”
But he said the commission isn’t going in with any fixed assumptions and will be guided by the goal of getting as close as possible to the quotient.
“What we’re saying is that we will take into consideration what New Brunswickers have to say,” he said.
“We will be very transparent. And the ultimate goal here is to try and achieve the 11,714 electors for a riding, which we know probably is impossible to do.”
Last weekend newly elected Liberal Leader Susan Holt said she would wait to see the new map before deciding where she’ll run in the next provincial election. In 2018 Holt was defeated as a candidate in Fredericton South by Green Leader David Coon.
Thériault said those considerations won’t matter to the commission.
“The redrawing of the electoral map will not be done to provide seats to anyone or any party,” he said. “It will be done in the best interests of New Brunswick.”
U.S. politics engulfed in threats following police search at Trump's home – CBC News
A Republican former U.S. attorney general is pleading with his fellow Americans: cool down the ill-informed speculation threatening to engulf the country’s politics.
The police search at Donald Trump’s Florida residence has prompted a surge in inflammatory rhetoric reminiscent of the volatile weeks after the last election.
It’s included violent threats against officials, vows of political retaliation against the FBI, comparisons to Nazi rule and social-media musings about civil war.
Alberto Gonzales is urging people to withhold judgment until we learn more about what actually prompted Tuesday’s hours-long search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
The attorney general under George W. Bush told CBC News he feels sympathy for his former department: the Justice Department avoids, as a general rule, discussing investigations, in part to protect the reputation of its target.
Since there is no guarantee charges will be laid following a search, Gonzales said, it’s unfair to a suspect to rush out and describe what you were investigating.
This, he concedes, puts his former department at a disadvantage by creating an information vacuum that in this case is being quickly filled with speculation.
“There’s a lot here we don’t know yet.… People need to wait. People need to be patient. I have a great deal of confidence and faith in the department. I’m not saying it doesn’t make mistakes from time to time. It does, it may. Nonetheless, I would give the benefit of the doubt to the department. Let the department move forward and do its job.”
Such calls for patience are falling flat.
Heated rhetoric, threats increase
The nation is awash in furious speculation from every strata of American society, from anonymous accounts to high-ranking members of Congress.
Why did FBI agents scour the former president’s home for classified documents? How sensitive were they? Did Trump show them to anyone? Did any non-Americans see them? Is it connected to a broader investigation? Is it a smear job to stop Trump from running for president again?
Is this all about mishandled documents? Authorities aren’t talking and Trump has refused to release the search warrant, which could offer clues.
Republican politicians have largely closed ranks around the former president and threatened everything from defunding the FBI to grilling law enforcement at committee hearings.
They channeled the rage of the grassroots supporters who idolize Trump, like one protester outside Mar-a-Lago who told Reuters on Tuesday: “You feel like you might be in Venezuela or China or Russia or even in Hitler’s Germany.”
Researchers of online chatter say the intensity of anger has spiked to levels resembling the environment before the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol.
It includes talk of murdering the judge who reportedly authorized the search warrant, along with the heads of the FBI and the attorney general.
Online calls for civil war
Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, said regular citizens are hearing from conservative opinion-makers that America is slipping into tyranny and they’ll be targeted next.
And the response, he said, has been an instant surge in violent rhetoric across multiple online platforms, especially smaller websites without teams of content moderators.
“It’s large amounts of people openly fantasizing about using violence to target their perceived enemies,” Friedfeld said in an interview.
“People are saying they’re fed up, that it’s time for a civil war, that they have to fight back now, otherwise they’ll live in tyranny.”
One difference from Jan. 6, he said, is there’s no physical rallying point, no place for a mob to gather right now.
That will change if Trump ever gets charged.
A police lieutenant in one U.S. city told CBC News that colleagues are already having informal discussions about how to secure the courthouse if there’s a Trump-related case there.
‘Lock and load’
Friedfeld said it’s an obvious risk. He predicted that prosecutors would have their personal information leaked on the internet and would face a deluge of threats.
“Everyone on the prosecution will need to be protected,” he said. “Physical security is going to be paramount.… There will be people advocating for violence against the people trying to prosecute Trump.”
Another researcher, Daniel Jones, said the inflammatory rhetoric comes from three groups.
One he describes as entertainers — media personalities who crave attention. In that category he includes Fox News prime-time shows excoriating “Biden’s FBI.”
“We’re seeing things like, ‘Lock and load.’ … ‘This is a civil war,'” said Jones, the lead investigator in the U.S. Senate’s report on torture in the CIA, and a researcher with the non-profit, non-partisan group Advance Democracy.
“[We’re seeing] direct threats against that judge [who reportedly signed the warrant]… [And stuff like], ‘Attorney General Merrick Garland should be executed and assassinated.'”
Republican calls for defunding FBI
The third and final group he identifies, the one he calls most disappointing, comprises mainstream politicians who should know better.
Some Republicans have been repeating Trump’s line that perhaps police planted evidence at his home.
That includes the Georgia Q-Anon peddling firebrand, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who told One America News Network she’s thrilled by how many of her lawmaker colleagues are siding with her.
“I usually fight with my Republican colleagues, because I don’t think they’re strong enough,” she said.
“But I am hearing things that I am so happy to finally hear come out of their mouths. Because when we take back the majority and we are in control in the House of Representatives, we are going after the Department of Justice; we’re going after the FBI. We’ll control the budget that funds everybody’s program and everybody’s paycheques.”
‘A federal judge authorized this search’
Republicans on Capitol Hill say the outrage is not merely performative, as a public declaration of fealty to Trump in order to placate their grassroots.
They say they truly believe authorities, and the media, aggressively target conservatives while ignoring transgressions from Hunter Biden and Hillary Clinton.
The most senior Republican in the House of Representatives had a message about what his party will do if it wins a majority in this year’s midterm elections and gains power over congressional committees.
Party leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy said in a statement that he would call Garland to committee hearings and demand he preserve all documents about the case.
Another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, told Fox News that his party will scrutinize the actions of law enforcement.
“You better have explanations ready,” he said. “Because you cannot weaponize our institutions for political gain. That is the destruction of democracy.”
The eruption of outrage underscored the extent to which the Republicans are truly, deeply Donald Trump’s party now.
Meanwhile, George W. Bush’s attorney general offered his faint plea for people to trust law enforcement.
“A federal judge authorized this search,” Gonzales told CBC. “That means something, as far as I’m concerned.”
Politics Briefing: Nishnawbe Aski Nation opposes possible location for nuclear waste storage site – The Globe and Mail
Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution on Wednesday “vehemently” opposing the possibility of an underground storage site for nuclear waste, which could be built between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation in northern Ontario.
Chiefs expressed deep concern over the possibility of such a site during discussions at NAN’s annual Keewaywin Conference, which is being held in Timmins. Ignace, as well as Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, would hold the approval power for the project if their region is ultimately selected. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is also still considering South Bruce in Ontario as a possible location for its deep geological repository, which would see spent nuclear fuel stored roughly 500-metres underground.
“Northern Ontario is not a garbage can,” said Chief Ramona Sutherland of Constance Lake First Nation. “We work for seven generations of our people – I don’t want to pass this down to my son, my grandson, and then his sons.”
Chief Wayne Moonias, of Neskantaga First Nation, called the proposal disturbing, and said “the thought of having a nuclear waste site in our area, it’s just not something that we can live with … Our homelands are at stake with this proposal.”
A potential spill, Mr. Moonias cautioned, would not just affect the site itself. “It’s going to impact our river system. It’s going to impact our sturgeon. Our sturgeon is so important in our community,” he said.
The resolution called for Nishnawbe Aski Nation to take action to prevent the NWMO from placing any nuclear waste in NAN traditional territories, including forming a committee, engaging in civil protests and considering legal action.
Jennifer Guerrieri, a NAN staffer, said in a presentation Wednesday that a choice between the two potential sites is expected roughly within the next six months.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
NO NATIONAL TRACKING – Canada does not have a national system for tracking or preventing shortages of nurses and other medical workers, which health leaders say has contributed to hospitals across the country temporarily shuttering emergency rooms and intensive-care units this summer. Story here.
ALBERTA EASES REGULATIONS – The Alberta government has eased some restrictions on the province’s four major universities that prevented them from forming new partnerships with entities or individuals linked to the Chinese government. Story here.
TRUMP HITS BACK WITH VIDEO – Former U.S. president Donald Trump has unveiled a new video to present himself as the best person to lead the country, following an FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate. Story here.
ANALYSIS OF TRUMP RAID – The Justice Department has never before requested, or received, a search warrant to go through the home of a former American leader. Story here.
ALBERTA AWARDS PRIZE – Alberta’s legislature awarded a prize to an essay that equated immigration to “cultural suicide” and argued women are “not exactly equal” to men. Story here.
DENTAL DEAL MAY FACE BUMPS – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Liberal government is working to meet its end-of-year deadline to deliver dental care coverage to children, but that providing new services is complicated. Story by the Canadian Press here.
THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.
MINISTER FOR WOMEN IN WINNIPEG – Marci Ien, the federal minister for women and gender equality and youth, announced $30-million to support crisis hotlines across Canada on Wednesday.
SUPPORT FOR ACADIAN GATHERING – Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the federal minister of official languages, announced $4.6-million to help organize the next Congrès mondial acadien (Acadian World Congress), which will be held in August, 2024 in southwestern Nova Scotia.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.
No schedules provided for party leaders.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s possible “rendezvous with reality:” “When the smoke clears, then, we are probably going to find that Mr. Trump is in a world of trouble. That it came to this, after all, was only because he refuses, more than 18 months after leaving the White House, to give up the documents voluntarily. Which suggests he is every bit as conscious as the DoJ of how explosive they are. And these aren’t the only legal perils he faces … One way or another, the odds are increasing that Mr. Trump will soon face his own Alex Jones moment, a rendezvous with reality.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on limited support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “Can Mr. Trudeau rise from the stupor in which he currently finds himself? It’s possible. He has a fairly long runway ahead of him thanks to the NDP. But a lot of the damage that has been done to the Trudeau brand is likely irreversible. The Prime Minister is many things, but stupid he is not. He can see what’s going on. The question is – what will he do about it?”
Elaine Craig (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on compensating women victimized by players: “Until we successfully press antiquated organizations such as Hockey Canada to change, we need to accept the inevitable. So why shouldn’t hockey parents pay a small amount each year into a fund to help compensate the women who will be sexually victimized by some of the kids currently being steeped in the sport’s toxic environment? Ultimately, here’s why we should be most angry: It doesn’t have to be this way.”
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