The crisis in Germany sent shockwaves around Europe yesterday and the EU powerhouse looks set to face another election, which would likely reduce Mrs Merkel’s share of the domestic vote even further and offer the far-right AfD party another chance to boost its standing in Berlin.
Meanwhile, in France, President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the eurozone and the EU as a whole have been put on ice given the crisis faced by his key ally.
Since taking office, the 39-year-old leader has urged his European counterparts to get behind a raft of major EU reforms but without the Merkel’s backing, his plans to transform the bloc could suffer.
But optimistic French diplomats have said the situation strengthens the president’s hand and are already touting Mr Macron as the new figurehead of Europe.
One told POLITICO: “There’s a vacuum. He should embark on a few trips abroad and show that he’s still determined. Basic idea: There’s a new European leader in town.
“Give a big speech to the European Parliament, make trips to Spain and Italy to show at last that he knows those two countries do count in Europe.”Related articles
GETTY•REUTERSCould Germany's failed coalition talks allow Macron to take the lead in Europe?
If Europe has a leader at all, it is Mr Macron
Mrs Merkel is running out of allies both at home and abroad after her potential coalition partners pulled out of talks, with reports suggesting the parties were unwilling to compromise on migration and tax policy.
Now a former German ambassador to Britain has come forward and said it could be "bad news" for Brexit talks ahead of next month's landmark summit.
Thomas Matussek said Germany was “looking inward and is self-absorbed” with Berlin's focus away from crunch Brexit talks.