Skip to comments.Germany: Thou shalt have no other leader but Merkel
Posted on 03/28/2011 11:54:50 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
The Greens scored big in Baden-Württemberg, a German state that had been governed by the conservative Christian Democrats for 58 years. The biggest loser could be Chancellor Merkel, whose recent missteps contributed to the debacle. Nevertheless, her power remains stable, and she now knows what she must do to get re-elected in two years.
There was only one winner in Sunday's state elections in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate: the Green Party. The environmentalists managed to raise hopes among German voters of a new kind of politics. Now, however, they have to deliver.
It won't be easy. When it comes to Stuttgart 21, the massive train-station and redevelopment project in the state capital, cancellation will eliminate jobs and major infrastructure investments -- no matter how many voters want to see it go. On nuclear policy, the shutting down of two reactors in the state will eliminate significant amounts of tax revenue. Such changes are sure to rock Germany far beyond the borders of the southwestern German state.
Nevertheless, the election outcome shows that the Greens have something the other parties can only dream of at the moment: a clear profile. They have credibility -- and they embody a vision.
The Greens, of course, are not the only party celebrating the results of Sunday's votes. The center-left Social Democrats are also in a festive mood. But it's not obvious why. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the SPD only barely managed to cling to power, with Governor Kurt Beck losing 10 percentage points. In Baden-Württemberg, the SPD will play second-fiddle to the Greens in the state's new governing coalition.
Indeed, even as Chancellor Angela Merkel's government in Berlin -- which pairs her conservatives with the business friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) -- stumble from one crisis to the next, the SPD has failed to gain traction. Only the Greens have benefitted.
It is tempting, of course, to predict Merkel's downfall in the wake of the CDU-FDP disaster in Baden-Württemberg. But that would surely be a mistake. Surely, she has made mistakes. She ushered former governor Günter Oettinger (CDU) off to Brussels to become Germany's member of the European Commission. Merkel's zig-zag course on nuclear and foreign policy didn't help either, with her move to shut down atomic reactors, the United Nations Security Council abstention on the no-fly zone in Libya, and the expensive euro rescue package making even some of her most ardent supporters sick to their stomachs. Her government in Berlin also has little to show for itself after a year and a half in office aside from bickering and division. The list goes on.
No One Left for a Party Putsch Even worse, the next two years -- before 2013 general elections -- are likely to be painful. Merkel's coalition has long since lost control of Germany's upper legislative chamber, the Bundesrat. And frustration on the center right, in both Merkel's CDU and in the Free Democrats, is likely to bubble up in the form of bitter debates over political direction. With CDU election losses mounting, Merkel lacks the political strength, never mind the personal charisma, necessary to contain such disputes. Resentment towards the chancellor is growing, particularly in the conservative wing of her party.
Nevertheless, Merkel isn't going anywhere. After all, she has been preparing for such a difficult period for some time.
There is no one left in the CDU who could step up to challenge Merkel. Every potential rival has either fallen on his own sword or been pushed to the margins by the chancellor and CDU party boss. More recently, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a name often tapped as a possible future successor to Merkel, resigned from her cabinet after admitting he had plagiarized his doctoral thesis.
No one is left to conduct a party putsch. The CDU is stuck with Merkel until the next election. She's the best they've got.
And who is to say she won't win a third term in 2013. Merkel is a master in the art of political survival, and she surely can see the writing on the wall. Merkel's party has flirted with the possibility of working with the Greens at the national level. She could begin laying the groundwork for such a coalition soon. Her temporary shutdown of Germany's seven oldest nuclear reactors expires in three months time. An extension, or even a permanent elimination of those seven plants, would be a powerful move toward a partnership with the Greens.
And a move towards political emancipation from the FDP. Chancellor Merkel's popularity ratings, though they have taken a recent hit, remain high. Her current coalition partners, by contrast, are in a hopeless mess. Not only did the FDP, led by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, suffer through catastrophic results in both states on Sunday, the party is also likely headed toward a leadership shake-up.
Westerwelle has become a millstone around the neck of both Merkel and his own party. He is damaging to the coalition and harmful to German foreign policy, as evidenced most recently in his disastrous handling of the no-fly zone resolution.
The only way out would be a fundamental revitalization of the FDP. And as German voters made clear on Sunday, that may no longer be possible.
Sounds like a real mess.
It’s bad. Real bad.
It certainly didn't escape my notice that the people most virulently protesting were carrying “Die Linke” posters and looking a lot like Hartz IV recipients.
>> On nuclear policy, the shutting down of two reactors in the state will eliminate significant amounts of tax revenue.
Placating never pays.
Personally I think it’s wonderful that the greens have won in a german state. It would be even better if they managed to take over a whole country.
We will not get rid of the spell that they hold over the masses until they implement their cherished “save the earth” agenda and show us what a “green paradise” looks like - my guess it will be a lot like hell - or at a minimum the “worker’s paradise” of the USSR.
When electricity bills triple and there are rolling blackouts in mid-winter, we will see how popular the Greens are!
Germans seen to be going crazy over this nuclear thing, totally crazy. One article says they’re taking nuclear accident themed episodes of the Simpsons off the air.
“Broadcasters in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have decided to ban or censor episodes of the popular cartoon series that make fun of nuclear meltdowns.
“We are checking all the episodes and we won’t show any suspect ones, but we won’t cut any scenes,” said Stella Rodger, a spokeswoman for German broadcaster Pro7. “We haven’t postponed any yet.”
Austria’s ORF network has so far banned a total of eight episodes, including one that features scientists Marie and Pierre Curie dying of radiation poisoning.”
There may be a better article around, but you get the idea. Voting for the Greens based on a single natural disater in another country is bound to lead to regret. It’s worse than voting for a candidate based purely on one’s identity as a particular race or having particular sexual behaviours.
So, they'll be cutting every episode, given that the opening credit scene is nuclear mishap.
Heh, like in America, the voters will get exactly what they deserve. This communist win in Germany can only help hasten the implosion of the EU. Good riddance, Germany. Good riddance EU.