Foreign policy in Germany is an increasingly elite affair, discussed among officials, interested politicians and a coterie of international think tanks. Since foreign affairs has not really featured in this election campaign, it matters how this small group is discussing the direction of policy. Two narratives percolate here in Berlin. The first is about the reluctance of all parties to speak truth to German voters about unprecedented new geopolitical realities, and in particular to come clean about the evaporation of the supposed certainties of the 1990s. The second narrative is that all the major parties are still too far from France when it comes to the response. “Deutsch-französische Anschlussfähigkeit” – the ability to match France in style and substance – is thus a prime benchmark for judging party manifestos on everything from eurozone reform to the Indo-Pacific.
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