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How much longer should we look to Angela Merkel to determine the course Europe is taking? True, Germany is the European Union's biggest economy, but that shouldn't prevent us from looking past the Chancellor, who has been in charge during the time of the country's remarkable, albeit now dwindling, success. For a movement is emerging that challenges the hierarchy.

I call it a movement because it's not yet as powerful as a political shift or change of direction. In any case, it indicates a strengthening of the Left that coincides with a rise in Eurosceptic sentiment.

We've seen this in other European countries as well, France for example, but with Merkel's fairly sturdy coalition base and her ability to please many while offending few, this development is somewhat unexpected. 

Peer Steinbrück, Merkel's main opponent in the election next autumn, symbolises this changing attitude towards Europe and the European idea (Europäischer Gedanke sounds much grander). Steinbrück is a Social Democrat through and through, his agenda unabashedly pro-Europe.

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