Wednesday, January 04, 2012

German President Christian Wullf's speech

German President Christian Wullf's speech did an interview today with reporters from the German TV networks ARD and ZDF. He denies any consideration of resigning over the scandal in which he's involved having to do with shady favors done for him by wealthy businesspeople and by his own threatening phone calls to journalists when he was trying to suppress the story.

It wasn't a very impressive self-defense. He apologized for the way he acted with the journalists, but tried to soft pedal that by claiming he was only trying to delay the report, not get them to suppress it. And he doesn't admit to any kind of bad judgment, much less wrongdoing, in the favors he took, particularly a house loan that he had failed to disclose properly when he was Governor of Lower Saxony. He did say he shouldn't have disclosed it.

Tom Strohschneider in Bundespräsident: Am Ende der Schonfrist Der Freitag 03.01.2012 does suggest one potential advantage for Chancellor Angela Merkel if Wulff resigns, another Presidential election - which takes place in Germany's version of the US Electoral College, not by direct election - could allow her to position her CDU party for another Grand Coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Presidential elections are decided by party coalitions, and the party coalition formed to elect the President (chief of state) are often then carried over into the formation of a governing coalition after the Parliamentary elections, in this case scheduled in 2013.

Angie actually preferred her first governing coalition, a Grand Coalition with the SPD with Angie as Chancellor, to her current one with the (European-style) liberal Free Democrats (FDP). The FDP has traditionally been the German party most subservient to business lobbyists. But Angie has been so much that way herself, that the FDP is now polling in the 2-3% range nationally. If the party can't get a 5% nationwide vote in 2013, they won't get seats in the Bundestag (lower house of Parliament) and so can't participate in forming a government.

Between the FDP's declining popularity and their concerns about Angie's reckless course in the EU, they make a pretty unstable coalition partner. It says a lot about the SPD that Angie might see them as a better partner for her increasingly anti-democratic and narrowly business-focused approach EU than the proudly pro-business FDP. And what it says about the SPD is not good.

Strohschneider notes that Angie is already acting as the de facto foreign minister. The actual Foreign Minister is the FDP's Guido Westerwelle. It's probably just as well. When you're replacing governments and bullying all the other EU countries, having a Foreign Minister named "Guido" delivering your dictates probably isn't optimal PR.

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