Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your inbox.
The sudden and unexpected resignation of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is causing shock waves across Europe, where the continent’s center-right was already reeling from the impending departure from the political stage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The ripple effects of Kurz’s ouster over a corruption scandal are still reverberating, complicating the already difficult calculations of Europe’s center-right bloc on the eve of Merkel’s impending departure from the political scene.
The European People’s Party, the pan-European center-right coalition, had already lost their crown jewel when Armin Laschet, the anointed successor from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union, or CDU/CSU, led his party to its worst defeat in history. Laschet now looks set to be exiled to the political wilderness as Germany’s conservatives prepare for a stint in the opposition, barring unforeseen circumstances that would keep the center-left Social Democratic Party, or SPD, from forming a governing coalition. The defeat in Germany’s general election was only the latest in a series of setbacks for Europe’s center-right faction that has left conservatives at an unprecedented low ebb of power.