FOR so long the last man standing in Europe, Germany has suddenly become its Sleeping Beauty. Several Princes Charming are gathered around the bed, desperate to rouse the princess from her slumber. Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, urges Germany to wake up for the sake of Europe. Brussels anxiously watches the princess’s repose. Even Alexis Tsipras, who as Greece’s prime minister is more used to taking instructions from Berlin than giving them, has been whispering into her ear.
Europeans complain about the results of German leadership when they receive it, but do not much like its absence. In 2011 Radek Sikorski, then Polish foreign minister, declared himself less fearful of German power than German inaction. Today, as Germany clumsily grapples with the result of its inconclusive election in September, much of Europe finds itself in a similar spot.