September 28, 2009

An election about nothing

It?s my view that Takimag readers should muster somewhere between 1.7 and 2.2 cheers for the Christian Democrats of Germany, who proved victorious this weekend in national elections. Their triumph not only secures a second chancellorship for Angela Merkel, but it will allow her to form a ruling coalition with the Free Democrats, who are much like the Club For Growth wing of the Republican Party.

Though a decent and smart woman, Merkel is hardly a dynamic, risk-taking European politician in the line of Pim Fortuyn or Geert Wilders. Postwar Chancellors haven’t been known for their charisma, but Merkel is strikingly drab. And while a man like Konrad Adenauer had a rich intellectual and political background?he was involved with Rheinland secessionism after the First World War and dreamed of creating a traditionalist ?pan-Europa? after the Second?Merkel, as far as I can see, represents the height of political conventionality.

Though to her credit, over the past six months, she has issued forth some guarded grumblings about the Fed?s zero-interest-rate policies as well as Washington?s demand that countries with savings and trade surpluses finance Obama?s ?stimulus? orgy. She?s, of course, ultimately gone right along with America on pretty much everything over the past year (and when she hasn?t, she?s been wrong, such as with the recent ?Climate Change? kurfuffle at the G20.) Now liberated from the ?Grand Coalition? with the Social Democrats, about all one should expect Frau Merkel to do is lower the income tax rates by 2-3 points?Whoopdedoo!

It is certainly a good thing that after last fall?s economic downturn, Germans didn?t go running into the arms of the socialists and instead actually increased the vote totals of the ?pro-business? party (the FDP.) But let?s keep this in context. The Social Democrats?which is a kind of unionized, Joe Biden-like party, having dropped ?gradualist? Marxism?earned 23 percent of the vote; The Left Party?a breakaway from the SPD, which has picked up gradualist Marxism and looks back with fondness on the German Democratic Republic?received 12 percent; and the Greens?which combines the Baby Boomer New Left with pomo and crunchy insanities of many varieties?got 10. Put simply, half of the country either wanted some kind of retro-socialism (SPD, Left) or else a form of leftism that might actually be worse than what Obama is pursuing over here.

I wish I could offer a more insightful perspective, but this seems to be just about all I?m moved to say* about an election that only proves that Germany will be stuck in a holding pattern for at least another four years. 

* Though I am slightly curious about what the American media will make of Deutschland?s next Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, who?s is ?partnered? with an uptight-looking gay businessman from Cologne. Westerwelle doesn?t talk much about his ?orientation,? and for that he should be applauded. Indeed, he talks more about how labor unions and the welfare state are ruining his country. For this and other reasons, I seriously doubt he?ll cut the bill as the Great Gay Hope in world politics the media have been longing for.   

Update: And what was going on with all those Christian Democrats holding up orange signs bearing the name “Angie”? I mean, “Angie” … saying that makes me feel like I’d be voting for someone’s spinster aunt or something.

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