Germany’s coalition: Merkel knows how to make government work

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The result of Germany’s national elections in September was the formation this month of a broad coalition of center-left, center and center-right parties, led by Angela Merkel, who begins her third four-year term as chancellor.

The formula for one country’s governmental success cannot necessarily be applied to another. Each country’s history, particularly Germany and the United States, is unique. Some believe, for instance, that the U.S. government would run better if it were a parliamentary democracy, with a symbolic president or monarch.

Under that system, a government that had lost the confidence of its people could be forced to resign and submit itself to new elections that might put into office a government that was more to the public’s liking. This line of reasoning might have particular appeal at the moment, with Washington often looking like a gridlocked clown show.

But this momentous change isn’t contemplated for the United States, nor is it likely to occur. The status quo is firmly entrenched after more than two centuries and the Constitution would have to be overhauled to transform the structure of government.

Germany is successful, but it is different from the United States. Its population is 82 million; America’s, 317 million. Its land area is one-twenty-seventh of America’s. It is in the middle of fractious Europe, while the United States is surrounded by two oceans and relatively tranquil Canada and Mexico. U.S. troops guarantee Germany’s defense. Even though America’s history has some major atrocities, it includes nothing as horrendous as those committed by Hitler and the Nazis.

Nonetheless, Americans can look with some admiration on how the Germans have crafted a government for the next four years that includes the bulk of the major left and right parties and the center, and is led by the politically and economically savvy Ms. Merkel. Maybe there’s a lesson for U.S. voters and those in Congress and the White House.


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