Angela Merkel in Trouble

| Mon Jun. 14, 2010 1:56 PM EDT

I'm not sure quite what to make of this, but.....

German chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition government looked to be close to collapse today, weakened by a string of disagreements and intense infighting over austerity cuts, policy reform and the departure of senior conservatives.

....Merkel called at the weekend for the government partners to bury the hatchet over their disagreements after a week when relations reached such a low that members of her government had variously referred to each other as "wild pigs" and "gherkin troops" (rank amateurs).

But much of the mistrust and anger is being directed at Merkel herself. This week's Spiegel magazine called her the Trummerfrau, a reference to German women who cleared away the rubble after second world war bombings. It painted a picture of a woman presiding over a government in ruins and used its title page to request the government in one word to "Aufhören!", or stop.

Apparently Merkel's budget cuts and unwillingness to raise tax rates on the rich are her current headache. "The package has also stoked the anger of Merkel's French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, who has accused the Germans of creating an atmosphere that will stifle growth in Europe at a time when it should be stimulated." Sarkozy's an odd duck, for sure, but when he's right he's right.