Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Merkel tries to form a government

Michael König reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bavarian Minister-President (Governor) Horst Seehofer have a good cop/bad cop routine going in the negotiations with the SPD to make them a junior partner in a Merkel-headed Grand Coalition that would continue to wreck the eurozone and the European project just as Angie wants. (Gute Merkel, böser Seehofer 24.09.2013)

Seehofer's Christian Social Unio (CSU) just won a majority in Bavarian state elections. The CSU operates in practice as the Bavarian branch of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), although they are technically a separate party. Bavaria is a stronghold of the CDU/CSU.

Seehofer may be the "bad cop" in the current negotiations with the SPD. But the former CSU leader Edmund Stoiber reminds us that Angie is a real Frau Fritz. (Robert Treichler, Edmund Stoiber: „Merkel ist knallhart” Profil 22.9.2013) He says of her, "Sie hat unbestritten einen Machtwillen, aber sie ist durchgehend persönlich und freundlich, gleichzeitig aber auch knallhart in der Sache" ("She underdoubtedly has a desire for power, but she is thoroughly personable and friendly, but also at the same time ruthless when it comes down to it.").

The "bad cop" pitch to the SPD sounds like a real sucker's pitch to me. You SPDers have to be responsible, it goes. You have to act like the adults in the room, to borrow an American metaphor. We'll toss you some minister posts and give you a couple of things you want, like a minimum wage law. But you have to play along on everything Frau Fritz wants to do to Europe and her deregulation policies and the neoliberal Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA, formerly known as TTIP). If it makes you lose even more votes and kicks your own voters in the face, well, you have to be the grownups in the room. Besides, as the Very Serious People say, "In politics, to put something through against your own people is taken as evidence of strong leadership."

Social Democrats opposed to a Grand Coalition have created a Facebook page, Sozialdemokrat_innen gegen die Große Koalition. They are providing a stream of links to articles on the sentiment against such an arrangement coming from state and locals SPDs like those in Leverkusen, Mainz, Munich, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia.

Fabian Reinbold in Fahrplan für eine neue Regierung: Der lange Weg ins Kanzleramt Spiegel Online provides a guide to the formal rules for building a new government. To broadly summarize, if Merkel can't build a coalition government in 2-3 months (it took her 65 days after the 2005 election), the Bundestag could vote on whether to accept her as Chancellor, and if she gets a majority she can form a new government. If the Bundestag fails to get a majority after four rounds of voting, the Federal President (head of state) Joachim Gauck can request Merkel to form a minority government. If that doesn't happen, new elections would have to be held.

More on Merkel's record:

Anna Giulia Fink und Robert Treichler, Angela Merkel: Eine Frage der Ära Profil 23.9.2013

David Crossland and Friederike Heine, World From Berlin: Triumph Confirms 'Era of Merkelism' Spiegel International 09/23/2013

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