Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 06:57:22 AM EST
Right now there are three different issues being discussed about the current German political process. We would appreciate hearing from our German EuroTrib political experts on this situation, plus of course any comments from other interested readers.
Merkel's authority limited
Social Democrats have secured control of most of the ministries in return for Merkel replacing Schroeder as chancellor, and insist they will have an equal say in any new government's direction. Senior conservatives acknowledged her room for maneuver would be limited, but said there would be cases where she would have to adjudicate.
Schroeder's long game
In return for giving up the chancellorship, Schroeder has managed to win all the other cabinet positions that the SPD most cares about. The SPD will hold the foreign ministry, which means that Germany will not drop its opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, nor will Merkel be able to wreck the negotiations for Turkey's entry into the European Union. It will hold the finance ministry, which means the CDU's plans for radical tax changes must wait. It will hold the labour ministry, which means that Merkel's plans for radical reforms in the labour market will not happen.
Germany's SPD gets the knives out after deal with Merkel
Now the left and right are fighting to get their favoured candidates into government. Most of their fire has been aimed at the chairman. (...)Andrea Nahles, the main leftwing representative, refused to give Mr Müntefering carte blanche over cabinet appointments. (...)Many SPD MPs think the chairman has proved too soft a negotiator and are uncomfortable about entrusting him with the next round of negotiations, due to start on Monday, over the government's policy agenda.
So where is this process leading to? Can the SPD make internal compromises and get the best candidates in? Or will it collapse, leading to a whole other scenario:
Joschka Fischer is also happy, because the negotiations for the "grand coalition", which must conclude by 12 November, may not produce agreement on a joint program, in which case the president, Horst Koehler, would have two choices. He could nominate one of the major party leaders as chancellor and put it to a secret vote in the Bundestag. But Merkel would lose such a vote, given the overall "left" majority in the legislature, whereas Schroeder would almost certainly win it and go on to form a minority government with the Greens.
Or Koehler could just call a new election -- which the SPD would probably win, since the CDU would have no time to choose a more charismatic leader than the wooden Merkel. Either way, the signs point to a new SPD-Green minority government that depends on Left Party votes to get key legislation through the Bundestag. And even if the "grand coalition" happens, it would probably break down and lead to a new election and a similar outcome before very long. The master tactician wins again.
So a lot is cooking on the stove, and decisions made in the next weeks could lead the German government in many different directions. What do you think will happen, and what would be the best for Germany?