Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The year is 2001. The Grand Coalition government of German capital Berlin, which also constitutes one of Germany's 16 federal states, was raked by a big corruption and mismanagement scandal chiefly connected to the CDU (which also resulted in record indebtment). The SPD goes into early elections with a barely known grey candidate who is more or less in Schröder's Third Wayist direction.

Then when the candidate held his first big campaign speech before party delegates, he finished with the abrupt coming-out: "...and by the way: I am gay." Then, seeing the puzzled faces, he famously added: "...und das ist auch gut so." (c. = and that's fine that way, too). This became an instant catchphrase used to this day, and helped nicely to establish him in public consciousness. (It was allegedly a clever move to come before a newspaper leak.)

Klaus "Wowi" Wowereit, that's his name, then became Berlin's major, and proved himself to be not only popular but an expert tactician. He first got the Left Party (which is big in Berlin) to support his government from the outside, then next elections he coalitioned with them - and got them to support a not-at-all hard-leftist austerity programme. Basically: all the voter loss risk in the government was the Left Party's (even Left Party star Gregor Gysi saw it wiser to flee into federal politics). Thus, funnily, whenever the SPD was ritually tearing itself apart over the issue of relations with the Left Party, Wowereit was always the unlikely foremost advocate of stronger ties.

This cunning power pragmatist also excelled in stoking the fire of the Obama speech debate, by repeatedly declaring that he is favorable. He is in a golden position, as the location of the speech is ultimately the decision of his government.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 18th, 2008 at 02:29:06 PM EST
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