So, in democracies the people elect their government, right? Well, not in Germany. Two months ago, the Germans gave Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats 41.5% of the vote. Her nearest rivals, the Social Democrats, got 25.7%. However, Merkel hasn't been able to get herself elected chancellor yet. She is still negotiating with the losers about forming a coalition. And the losers are dictating the agenda.
Welcome to proportional representation. This, together with the fractured nature of the electorate, ensures that the composition and the programme of governments are decided in backroom deals. Since Merkel couldn't gain an absolute majority, and since she lost her previous coalition partner – the liberal Free Democrats, who were voted out of parliament – she has to form a coalition with the Greens or the Social Democrats, the very people she claimed in the election would ruin the country.… Seguir leyendo »
This week, Germany got a new president: Christian Wulff, an uncharismatic politician who until then had been content to rule the state of Lower Saxony, home of Volkswagen. The German president played an unhappy role in the Weimar Republic, and the post is a ceremonial one without any power. He or she is elected by an assembly dominated by the political parties. Since the governing coalition under Angela Merkel had a majority in the assembly, Wulff's election should have been a matter of form, and the whole election little more than a political blip, considering the drama unfolding in South Africa at the football World Cup.… Seguir leyendo »
It's the morning after in Germany. All through the campaign, the chattering and writing classes were moaning that the election thing was a bore – we were going to get Angie as chancellor no matter how the election turned out. Well, Angie we got. But the country has woken up to the fact that Merkel II is going to lead a very different coalition to that led by Merkel I. And given her chameleon-like capacity for adapting, Angela Merkel could yet turn out to be Germany's Maggie Thatcher.
Goodness knows, the country needs a shake-up. The economic crisis has exposed Germany's vulnerability to international markets.… Seguir leyendo »