A TURN TOWARD GERMANY’S FUTURE

For more than a decade, German politics have been dominated by a single figure: Chancellor Angela Merkel. The fight to succeed her, which culminates today with a vote of delegates from her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to choose a new leader, is as much a battle over her legacy and style as the policies of those vying to eventually take Germany's top job.


The top two contenders are a diminutive powerhouse and career politician, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (known as "AKK") and a 6-foot-5 millionaire corporate banker, Friedrich Merz. The winner will immediately take over from Merkel as the party's chairperson and be well-positioned as the presumptive frontrunner to become chancellor when she steps down.

In recent weeks, the candidates crisscrossed the country offering their pitch on why they should be the party's next standard-bearer. On important issues such as the economy, strengthening the EU, and the importance of the US alliance, the two front-runners mostly agree. Where they differ, however, is in how they view of the centrist, consensus-based style that has defined Merkel's tenure and through which the dominant parties of center-right and center-left have governed together.

The stinging results of last year's national election hang over today's proceedings. After returning its worst result since 1949, the leaders of the center-right CDU, Ms. Merkel included, agree it's time for a change. Mr. Merz would like to see the party win back support among conservative voters by promoting German cultural values and taking a tougher stance on migration. Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer believes a return to male-dominated conservative politics and refutation of multiculturalism risks alienating a new generation of voters.

Today's vote will decide the face of the next generation of German politics, with a victory for Mr. Merz likely signaling an early exit for Chancellor Merkel before her term ends in 2021, and whether it will be defined by a soft embrace or radical break from the Merkel era.

Brazil's governors take on Bolsonaro: We've previously written about the tensions between local and national governments over coronavirus response, but few places have had it as bad as Brazil. As COVID-19 infections surged in Brazil, the country's governors quickly mobilized – often with scarce resources – to enforce citywide lockdowns. Brazil's gangs have even risen to the occasion, enforcing strict curfews to limit the virus' spread in Rio de Janeiro. But Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has mocked the seriousness of the disease and urged states to loosen quarantines in order to get the economy up and running again. "Put the people to work," he said this week, "Preserve the elderly; preserve those who have health problems. But nothing more than that." In response, governors around the country – including some of his allies – issued a joint letter to the president, begging him to listen to health experts and help states contain the virus. The governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil's economic powerhouse, has even threatened to sue the federal government if Bolsonaro continues to undermine his efforts to combat the virus' spread.

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Governments of the developed world are finally responding with due sense of urgency, individually in 3 different ways.

1st, stand health care systems up so they won't get overwhelmed (late responses). The private & public sector together, building additional ICU beds, supply capacity and production of medical equipment and surge medical personnel in the US, Canada, across Europe & the UK. Unclear if we avoid a Northern Italy scenario. A couple days ago, Dr. Fauci from the NIH said he was hopeful. Epidemiologists and critical care doctors don't feel comfortable. Not in New York, Chicago, LA, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans. In Europe, particularly London, Madrid, Catalonia, Barcelona, might be significantly short.

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The major outbreaks of coronavirus in China, Europe, and the United States have garnered the most Western media attention in recent weeks. Yesterday, we went behind the headlines to see how Mexico and Russia are faring. Today, we'll look at three other potential hotspots where authorities and citizens are now contending with the worst global pandemic in a century.

Start with India. For weeks, coronavirus questions hovered above that other country with a billion-plus people, a famously chaotic democracy where the central government can't simply order a Chinese-scale public lockdown with confidence that it will be respected. It's a country where 90 percent of people work off the books— without a minimum wage, a pension, a strong national healthcare system, or a way to work from home.

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In the end, it took the coronavirus to break the year-long deadlock in Israeli politics. Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu will still face corruption charges, but he has yet another new lease on political life, as he and political rival Benny Gantz cut a deal yesterday: Bibi will continue as prime minister, with Gantz serving as Speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. After 18 months, Gantz will take over as prime minister, but many doubt that will ever happen.

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