Merkel Running for Bundeskanzler: Why Is the CDU Happy?
Germany's conservative opposition on Monday nominated Angela Merkel, a Protestant minister's daughter from the formerly communist east, as its challenger to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, giving her the chance to become the country's first female leader.
Merkel, 50, emerged as favorite to challenge Schroeder after the chancellor called for national elections to be advanced by a year following a shattering state election defeat for his party a week ago.
Merkel, who was greeted by tumultuous applause at the conservatives' Berlin headquarters, pledged to make her priority tackling Germany's 12 percent jobless rate — and moved to rebut government charges that she would govern as a "market radical."
"At the center of my thinking and action will stand ways of creating work for people in Germany," she said. "We need an agenda for work."
Merkel also has spoken out Schroeder's strident criticism of U.S. policy on Iraq and says good relations with Washington should be a "fundamental element" in German policy. ~Yahoo News
I haven't been keeping tabs as closely on the European political scene as I used to (at some point it occurred to me that it was a complete waste of time), but I have learned enough about Ms. Merkel over the past few years to know that a Union government with her at the head would be an embarrassment to Germany and the CDU. Unlike many of the Catholics in her party, who seem to be the last to retain some sense of the Christian identity and convictions that have long since vanished from Christian Democracy everywhere, Ms. Merkel thought it wise to thumb her nose at Vatican statements against the Iraq war and openly embrace the poisonous policies of Mr. Bush. That she remains proud of this and believes it will serve her well in the election only underscores how politically dense this woman is.
The last thing a German government more docile vis-a-vis Washington needs is such an obvious, cloying puppet of American interests. Merkel will taint the CDU with the corruption of supporting hegemony that has so damaged Blair, Aznar and Berlusconi, and it is only the appalling economic management of the SPD that will keep the CDU from being ousted on account of it. You can attribute her foolish encouragement of seriously considering Turkish entry to the same need to follow Washington's lead. She says this even after Stoiber and the party took an unusually hard line against easing immigration restrictions in the last Bundestag. For a country with 12% unemployment, Turkish entry would be uniquely disadvantageous.
She has gained this chance at running for chancellor much the same way Bob Dole obtained the presidential nomination: it is "her turn," and the party is going to give it to her on the assumption that even Angela Merkel cannot screw up a victory as secure as defeating the wounded and battered Gerhard Schroeder. This tells me the CDU is far too overconfident and will fight the election badly. The Union may still win, but will have a mandate to reign and not to rule.
Schroeder and the SPD were on the ropes at the last election as well, and all signs pointed to his certain defeat. However, thanks to Iraq and the flooding of 2002 (and Schroeder's associated "I feel your pain" routine) Schroeder survived and stumbled along, even if his party has been routed in every state and local election (even in Hamburg!) over the past two years. This may be Schroeder's time to fall, but Bavarian premier Stoiber would have been an all together more competent head of government. In fact, look at any of the opposition leaders besides Merkel and you will find more politically savvy individuals.
Daniel Larison | May 31, 2005
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