Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 04:30:54 AM EST
The events of the last two days were really fast... and, they had much to do with giant egos (hence the title).
It started with outgoing chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who declared that he'll step down even as an MP next year - for he thinks sitting in the backbenches is "undignified" for an ex-chancellor...
Then, vice-chancellor-to-be and current SPD (Social Democrat) chairman Franz "Münte" Müntefering declared that he'll step down as chairman unless his man is selected as candidate for party secretary. As reported by Saturday, his call was defied, and 35-year-old Andrea Nahles of the party's left wing was selected - and Münte made true his threat (but, he remains Vice Chancellor candidate).
Then, the much detested Edmund Stoiber, Bavarian PM of the Christian Socialist party (who had a good personal relationship with Münte) declared he no longer wants to become economic minister.
Meanwhile, in the SPD, popular foreign aid minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (see list of previously chosen ministers) declared she doesn't want to continue either - saying she won't stand in the way of a generation change. (Possibly for Nahles.)
To complete the upheaval (and to make me even more of a clairvoyant) the SPD leaders haven't picked one of the elephants like Steinbrück, but unanimously chose their young star from East Germany, Brandenburg province PM Matthias Platzeck as candidate for next chairman!
What effect will these changes have?
I think on the short term, turmoil in the SPD and confusion in the talks for an SPD-CDU/CSU Grand Coalition. On the longer term however, I believe the SPD's chances improved dramatically.
One of the big problems of the SPD was that Schröder transformed the party leadership into a chorus of yes-men. (Münte's image as being to the left of Schröder was, in my impression, more based on words - we all remember "locusts" - than actions, he was always a faithful adjutant.) Now, unless Platzeck (and the party Left) commits some grave errors, the public can view the SPD as a party that has a chancellor-in-waiting, out-shining the Anden-Pakt guys of the CDU who have a similar project. Soon it could be the CDU whose leaders are less keen on letting the government fail and have new elections.
Also, as for Stoiber: good riddance! Not that other members of his party are any better, but first signs are that the knives are out in Bavaria, and Stoiber may lose his PM-ship too (to some ambitious member of his party).