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by DoDo Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 08:09:20 AM EST

After month-long negotiations, on Saturday the German Christian Democrats (CDU), their permanent Bavarian counterparts the Christian Socialists (CSU), and the (neo)liberal Free Democrats (FDP) reached a coalition agreement. The day before they had already agreed on the list of ministers.

I emphasize that even though the German chancellorship is supposed to be a more powerful post than a standard prime minister, German ministers still enjoy considerable autonomy. They are policymakers on their own -- and project German influence in the EU on their own. (Some of you may recall outgoing finance minister Peer Steinbrück, for example, for his attacks on French President Sarkozy and British PM Gordon Brown, or the attacks on him by economist Paul Krugman.)

As for the new ministers... On the policy level, two things catch the eye:

  • compared to the outging Grand Coalition (CDU/CSU + Social Democrats [SPD]) government, several ministers switched seats to another ministry (Stühlerücken in German);
  • a lot of the new ministers have no experience in their new field of responsibility.

At the power level, there are again two things worth noting:

  • Most CDU ministers are Merkel's (wo)men, pushing back rivals;
  • the FDP is contained by getting only unrelated ministries.

I'll list all the ministers -- but, loosely, from most powerful to least.

:: :: :: :: ::

Chancellor: Angela Merkel (CDU)

The holder of this post is unchanged, of course. Currently said to be on the left wing of her party, both socially and on the economy, a position now made more difficult by the FDP's entry into government. However, ideology is not what defines her.

Merkel is the cold Machiavellian tactician, who applies former chancellor Helmut Kohl's paradigm of waiting longer than anyone else (letting others self-destroy), and who in public projects the perception of an Aunt of the Nation standing above petty party politics. (Get a glimpse of the real Merkel in the second video in PeWi's parallel diary.) But no more on Merkel -- better read the SPIEGEL op-ed The Black Widow Chancellor (from which I took the photo below).

Head of the chancellery: Ronald Pofalla (CDU)

The defining difference between a German chancellor and a standard prime minister is the chancellery: a de-facto government-in-a-government, a bureaucracy with sections mirroring all the ministries. The head of chancellery is a powerful post at minister level, but one with low public profile. (The outgoing foreign minister and SPD chancellor candidate, Franz-Walter Steinmeier, was former chancellor Gerhard Schröder's head of chancellery.)

The new grey eminence, Pofalla, was a loyal party soldier, making a career in the parliamentary faction and the federal party; but, he never had responsibility in an executive job. He is a trained lawyer, and a North German Christian conservative advocating crucifixes in the classroom. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Interior minister: Thomas de Maizière (CDU)

The East German descendant of French Huguenot refugees in Prussia (and cousin of Lothar de Maizière, the last PM of East Germany) is the first seat-shuffler, he was the previous head of chancellery. He is a loyal Merkel ally ever since Merkel promoted him from the Saxony regional government to the federal government. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Finance minister: Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU)

Kohl's onetime consigliere and desired successor, he is a powerful figure in the CDU by seniority, but not part of a bigger network. Schäuble was pushed out from the interior ministry, where he gained the nickname "Stasi 2.0" and EUrope-wide infame for a steadfast advocacy of new police state measures.

But, Schäuble, wheelchair-bound ever since a 1990 attack by a madman, did not start out as a security policy 'specialist': more a man for all seasons, with expertise in backroom diplomacy and public widening of the Overton Window. Still, finance? (Photos from Wikipedia)

Foreign minister: Guido Westerwelle (FDP)

The FDP held the foreign ministry for decades. Thus the FDP's big old man in the background, eighties foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, mobilised his connections to get the post for the FDP's current boss. Whether he is qualified, is another question. His election-day reminder to a BBC reporter that people speak German in Germany may have been true, but not a good start into the world of diplomacy. (And possibly motivated by his own difficulty with English, evidenced by the first video in PeWi's parallel diary.)

My personal impression of Westerwelle is that of a rather shallow yuppie who never achieved much on his own. First there were the rich parents. Then the FDP's onetime free-wheeling strongman from Northrhine-Westphalia, Jürgen Mölleman, who helped him into party leadership, practically as his figurehead. But then Mölleman went under politically and committed a spectacular suicide1, after which Westerwelle remained party head for lack of a better (or willing) choice. Now his party won big thanks to dissatisfied CDU voters voting against the Grand Coalition, and old man Genscher will be advising him on his new job.

That this shallow man advocates cloud-cuckoo-land neolib reforms is not surprising. That the first openly gay minister did not make much of civil rights (in fact his coming-out was more or less involuntary) is a letdown. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Economy minister: Rainer Brüderle (FDP)

Brüderle is federal FDP deputy-everything since 1998. He came from regional politics, that of Rhineland-Palatinate state, once (but not now) a stronghold of the FPD. Back there, he personified the old school FDP that could coalition both left and right. But that was then. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Defense minister: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU)

Looking fresh and young, the aristocrat golden boy is the new star of the CDU/CSU, soaring in favourability ratings, even though he didn't achieve much. But the FDP's claim for influence on the economy meant that he had to vacate the economy ministry -- which he used to lead following a neoliberal line. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Labour minister: Franz Josef Jung (CDU)

Jung, in turn, was pushed out from the defense ministry. The low-profile hardliner -- a hardcore Atlanticist (right on photo below, with guess who, from Wikipedia), who damaged his position with an unquestioning defense of the NATO bombing of kidnapped fuel trucks in Afghanistan, denying civilian casualties -- is most noteworthy for the network he is part of.

Once upon a time, a bunch of CDU young hotshots visited Pinochet's Chile. On the plane there, they forged an alliance for mutual assistance and refusal of public criticism, and named it Andenpakt. All the members rose high, a number of them becoming state PMs. Jung was faction leader in Hessen state, which was (and is) led by the Andenpakt member then considered most influential, the hawkish Roland Koch.

The Andenpakt was Merkel's biggest stumbling block on her way to power: they attempted a coup twice, once (in 2002) costing her her chancellor candidate position. Merkel slowly neutralised them, however. Jung himself, once made minister, was Koch's man in the federal government. That Jung was de-facto demoted while Koch himself got no job in the end (he was up for finance) shows Koch's loss of influence. (Lower Saxony PM Christian Wulff, a moderate Andenpakt member who replaced Koch as Merkel's most likely successor, was also shown his limits during the coalition talks.)

Justice minister: Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP)

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger returns to the post: she held it in Kohl's last governments. She is the one bright spot on the list for me: someone committed to civil rights. Back in the Kohl era, she (along with a couple of allies) had the guts to fight to stop a big surveillance reform approved by her own government and even the majority of her own party2 (they eventually managed to stop it by submitting a successful complaint to the constitutional court).

Though she won't have any influence on social policy from that post, it is notewrothy that Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is also one of the last remains of the FDP's social-liberal wing. For example, at a party conference in 2007, she

held a speech appealing for a focus on equal opportunities, she said that it doesn't suffice to "set only on the growth powers of the market"

However, not much of the social shone through in the Bavarian FDP's profile when, in 2008, it coalitioned with the CSU under her leadership (ending a long history of CSU absolute majority). (Photo from her homepage)

Education & research minister: Annette Schavan (CDU)

Schavan is educated in education and theology, and spent years in a Catholic educational foundation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she had a central role in the headscarf ban battle in her home state Baden-Württemberg, advocating the most polarised opinion that the Muslim version symbolises the suppression of women while the Catholic doesn't.

However, that didn't impress the arch-conservative Baden-Württemberg CDU membership in the 2004/5 regional PM candidate selection: her suspected liberalism in other matters, and rumours of lesbianism spread by rivals, triggered their patriarchic instinct, and Andenpakt member Günther Oettinger was the winner. (I mention him because Oettinger was chosen to be Germany's next EU Commissioner.)

While Schavan's career advance was blocked in Baden-Württemberg, she was and is a close Merkel ally. Thus she was made research minister in 2005 (and was relatively low-profile in that job). Now she got the education portfolio of the disbanded social ministry (formerly held by the SPD), too. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Family & social minister: Ursula von der Leyen (CDU)

Von der Leyen is another close Merkel ally, whom she promoted into her first government to give her party a socially more modern face. This was not without hypocrisy: in her previous career as Lower Saxony social minister [under Christian Wullf, see section on the new labour minister], she 'made a name' by abolishing the special social benefits for the blind.

However, as federal family minister, von der Leyen caused the biggest debate of the year 2007 in Germany, by proposing a mayor expansion of state-supported daycare. In this, she was opposed by the majority of her own party and churches, and supported from the left. Ultimately, she lost (the reform was stopped from above). In the fight against child pornography, however, she earned flak for fomenting extra-legal ad-hoc internet censorship.

Now she got the social portfolio from the disbanded SPD ministry, too. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Healthcare minister: Philipp Rösler (FDP)

Rösler caught the international media's attention as Germany's first Asian minister -- though he was only born in Vietnam, but adopted as a 9-month-old by German parents, who raised him as German establishment guy down to the name. He is a trained surgeon, but he is no Kenzo Tenma.

Rösler is the FDP's answer to zu Guttenberg: an arrogant yuppie, with nine months as Lower Saxony's economy, labour & transport minister behind him. Though his 2008 pamphlet (in which he attacked the party line for what it is missing, and called for an emphasis on "knowledge, tolerance, [social] cohesion") was interpreted as a call for a more social FDP, I see it more as a call for seizing these themes, too, by advocating marketista recipes. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Environment minister: Norbert Röttgen (CDU)

Röttgen is a low-profile party soldier I haven't heard much about. Apparently, another Merkel man. However, the fact that two years ago, he was up for a job with the powerful German Industrial Association (he chose to remain in politics in the end after being attacked for conflict of interest even within the party) is not a good indication... (Photo from Wikipedia)

Transport & construction minister: Peter Ramsauer (CSU)

Ramsauer was the leader of the CSU contingent of the joint CDU/CSU faction in the federal parliament. As customary for a CSU politician in federal politics, he was a sharp-tongued trouble-maker. His connection to his new job? I don't know, maybe that he is a trained miller?... (Photo from Wikipedia)

Agriculture & consumer [protection] minister: Ilse Aigner (CSU)

Aigner advanced to the post in 2008 (when her predecessor Horst Seehofer returned to Bavaria to be party boss and PM). She made a name earlier this year by pushing through a ban on planting transgenic maize -- although she herself was pushed into it by some transgenic maize scandals, public pressure, and the CSU's sinking numbers. (Photo from her homepage)

Development aid minister: Dirk Niebel (FDP)

Was the FDP's general secretary. A real meanie. He used to work as a job mediator, an experience from which he must have derived his idea that the Federal Labour Office should be cut back to a mere issuer of jobless benefits. Before the elections, he declared the superfluousness of the ministry he now got... (Photo from Wikipedia)

  1. For the 2002 elections, Jürgen Mölleman wanted to make the FDP a double-digits party with an extremely populist campaign. As part of this, in an attempt to win naturalised immigrants' votes, he started an anti-Israel poster campaign. But, as some posters were bordering on anti-semitism, there was a big [and IMHO over the top] backlash. Would that not be enough, it was revealed that he financed that campaign in shady ways. He then committed suicide by not opening his parachute on a parachute jump.
  2. The law package nicknamed Großer Lauschangriff = "Great Listening-in Attack" was to give police organs the right to use electronic listening devices against anyone, including people with confidence-requiring jobs like attorney, journalist, psychiatrist or Catholic priest. Back then, the excuse du jour wasn't fighting terrorism, but fighting organised crime -- back in the nineties, gangsters from the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were the Scare Thing.

With thanks for input and criticism to nanne, who'll hopefully expand on the end of the above-fold part in a comment.

Also read Reaching agreement on a Coalition in Germany by PeWi, and the first reaction to the coalition agreement, So Long, EU Carbon Tariffs by nanne.

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 08:12:41 AM EST
In any new coalition, there are people who lose some. As DoDo indicates, the big loser of this round has been old European Tribune favourite Roland Koch. Koch was rumoured to head the finance ministry, in which he would have had the power over the purse, which is, if wielded well, the second most powerful post in the cabinet.

In this scenario, his ally Jung would have headed back to the state of Hessen to replace him as Minister President there, while Schäuble would've headed to Brussels. Instead, Merkel sent Oettinger (who can be counted as an ally) to Brussels, and put her former rival Schäuble on finance.

On balance, the move from interior to finance neither increases nor decreases Schäuble's influence, though perhaps finance doesn't play as well to his 'strengths'. At any rate, he is by now a distinctly old guard CDU politician. Meanwhile, as DoDo notes, Jung was demoted from Defence to social affairs, and Merkel brought two of her close allies (De Maizière and Röttgen) into the two extra slots the CDU had, got another ally (Pofalla) as the head of the Chancellery and hung on to her old troops, strongly increasing her grip on both the cabinet and the CDU.

The man waiting in the wings, Christian Wulff, neither gains nor loses, which on balance is also a loss. Merkel will continue to head the CDU into the next elections - the only ones who can now bring her to fall are her own allies.

Meanwhile, the FDP got a number of influential posts, but is counterbalanced by CDU or CSU ministers on most policy areas. The only topic they can really try to own is development assistance (by virtue of also having the economy ministry), which happens to be one of the topics the party cares least for.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 09:10:45 AM EST
In the Cabinet Merkel I, the SPD Ministers all had their own state secretaries. This is not the case for the FDP in the current coalition. A former CDU treasurer will be looking over the shoulder of Brüderle at Economy & Technology (along with two FDP politicians), and Rösler also gets company from a CDU politician on Health.

Given how well Merkel managed to maneuver in a coalition of equals, this should be child's play. So, this is her government, any decisions it makes, she owns.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 09:36:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The man waiting in the wings, Christian Wulff, neither gains nor loses, which on balance is also a loss.

A week ago, Wulff publicly criticised the FDP's intransigence in the coalition talks (they would not bend an inch on their tax cut demands). I saw this as an obvious attempt to force Merkel's ahnd, and so did Christoph Schwennicke who wrote the Black Widow Chancellor op-ed in SPIEGEL:

Wulff's attack on Westerwelle and his taxes came across as light teasing. Beneath it though, lay an attack on the chancellor herself -- it was basically a criticism of the fact that Merkel had let the negotiations on this issue go on for so painfully long. And if the boss didn't nip this discussion with the FDP in the bud shortly, then he would do it himself -- that was Wulff's indirect swipe at Merkel. It could also be construed as something of a bid for power within the party.

Merkel simply ignored him -- and then Wulff (and Koch) were left out of the final talks.

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 01:19:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel sent Oettinger (who can be counted as an ally) to Brussels

Could you write more on this?

It was my impression that sending Oettinger to Brussels was on one hand the neutralisation of another loose gun, on the other hand damage control for the Baden-Württenberg CDU that tanked in the federal elections. Even if Merkel 'forgot' about how Oettinger defeated Schavan in 2005, Oettingher's attemts at initiatives on the federal level over the past four years must have been a headache for Merkel. Not to mention his scandals. (For others; a short Oettinger profile in a diary one one of his scandals: Whitewashing History (or: Judging a Judge))

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 01:33:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a quote summing up what I thought about the relationship:

Oettinger - zur EU weggelobt | RP ONLINE

Oettingers Verhältnis zur Kanzlerin gilt spätestens seit seiner missglückten Trauerrede auf Hans Filbinger als getrübt. Damals versuchte er den Stuttgarter Ex-Regierungschef von dessen NS-Vergangenheit reinzuwaschen. Die CDU-Chefin zwang ihn zu einem Widerruf. Eine Karriere in Berlin war danach passé - zumal der Schwabe mit forschen Vorstößen zur Unzeit immer wieder seine eigene Partei brüskierte - etwa als er im Wahlkampf für eine höhere Mehrwertsteuer warb.

Unbequem dürfte der Schwabe aber auch in der Ferne bleiben. "Der Günther wird in Brüssel nicht Merkels braver Vollstrecker", prophezeit eine langjährige politische Weggefährtin, die im EU-Parlament sitzt. Klar scheint: Oettinger will als Kommissar ohne Rücksicht auf Parteitaktik einen stramm wirtschaftsliberalen Kurs einschlagen. Notfalls auch gegen die Kanzlerin.

Beim Kampf gegen das VW-Gesetz versuchte er dies schon mal - und zog den Kürzeren. Merkel schlug sich frühzeitig auf die Seite von Niedersachsens Regierungschef Christian Wulff. Der verteidigte schließlich erfolgreich die Vetorechte seines Landes im VW-Aufsichtsrat gegen die Kommission und den Stuttgarter Sportwagenbauer Porsche. Es kam am Ende genau andersherum. Oettinger musste Hohn und Spott ertragen.

(Summary in English: Merkel's relationship with Oettinger took a nosedive when she had to manage his scandal created by his funeral speech for a former Nazi. This didn't improve when Oettinger took the European Commission's side against the "Volkswagen Law". While sending him to Brussels will remove Oettinger as a domestic risk factor, as Commisioner he may stay true to his marketista faith, and confront Merkel.)

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 01:48:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You'll note that in the latter case Oettinger was just following the interests of Stuttgart. But my impression that Oettinger was more on Merkel's side seems to be wrong.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 03:19:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arte News this evening was saying the choice of Oettinger was not well received in Brussels. That Barroso was surprised and not happy. That it looked like Merkel was banishing someone she didn't want around. And, above all, that this betrayed a singular lack of interest for Brussels in Merkel's thinking.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 03:24:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To my surprise, I read today that Oettinger was Merkel's third choice -- with the first being Koch! (Who flat-out rejected.) And with that, all three of her picks look like banishing someone she didn't want around. But, all of them are strongmen whom you can't expect to disappear in the Commission job, so lack of interest for Brussels seems a bit much.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 04:20:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They went on to say that Oettinger might be rejected by Parliament as incompetent for any of the major Commission posts he would claim.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 04:47:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, cool, I wouldn't have hoped that... </blatant partisanship>

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 04:51:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this enlightening rundown.

Two questions: what's the relationship between Finance and the Economy?

For example, France has a minister of Economy and Finance, with a Budget minister beneath her to look after the brass tacks. Britain has the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with a Permanent Secretary to the Treasury in a somewhat similar role to the French Budget minister. Who looks after what, and what's the pecking order, between the German Finance minister and the Economy minister?

Next, was Agriculture already twinned with Consumer Defence, or is that new? (It would feel very strange in France to have the MinAg looking after consumers...).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 09:54:07 AM EST
Finance and economy -- well, it's difficult to answer otherwise than state the (to me) obvious, which may not capture the essential difference for you...
  • The finance minister looks after finances. That is, he interfaces with the national bank, controls tax income, the public debts, and tells the other ministries that "no you won't get more this year".
  • The economy minister controls economic policy. That is, he proposes market rule changes (and direct interventions into the economy), talks with the business and industrial and trade union associations, privatises state companies (and nationalises private ones).

There is no pecking order between the two, they control different things. But the finance minister is more powerful by the fact that all other ministries depend on him/her (he controls the money they spend).

(Now, since nowadays everything is economy, and everything is to be marketised, the economy ministry is more likely to have conflicts with the other ministries. The most high-profile of these was with the environment ministry throughout the Schröder I, II and Merkel I governments; above all the Wolfgang Clement - Jürgen Trittin war over the control of energy policy in the Schröder II government.)

As for consumer defence: this field was added at the time Rernate Künast of the Greens held the ministry. With her, the agriculture ministry was more a watchdog over agriculture than a lobbyist for them, but conflict of interest was indeed noted afterwards...

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 01:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The BMWi (Federal ministry of economics) is emasculated, I'd say.

Back in the fifties and sixties it was different, and the BMWi had acquired a reputation and was able and willing to make use of it. As there is little sub-ordinated administration („Verwaltungsunterbau”), and, in a market economy, nobody to issue orders to, it is important to have a good and trustful relationship with the public. Erhardt knew this and worked hard for it; in his Frankfurt years he used to invite journalists to discuss/teach economics after office hours into the central station restaurant for a „Frankfurter Würstchen” and a beer.
This is all long gone. Helmut Schmidt, perhaps inspired by Giscard's  super minister status,  in any case in tune with his „Weltwirtschaftsführer” ambitions, captured the banking section („Geld und Kredit”) giving him, and his successors, television time at international events and a lot political influence. When Oskar Lafontaine became Superminister in 1998, the  political section („Grundsatzabteillung”) left for the finance ministry, too. What remains, is a torso. – And it is probably not a good idea to have the finance industry pertain to the finance ministry – a ministry should have a certain breadth, I presume.

The minister Rexroth,

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 06:43:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My notebook shocked me into posting this comment by flashing a warning “Empty battery – .5 minutes left”, so I overlooked the incomplete sentence at he end.

Rexroth came to my mind because he, at least, did someething good by fighting the plan of Kanther (interior minister) to bug everybody via the ISDN PBXes. (It's in the specs already, so perhaps he wanted to make ISDN PBXes mandatory?)

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 07:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The BMWi may not be what it was, but looking at sections of the outgoing zu Guttenberg BMWi, it still has some clout:

BMWi - Aufgaben und Struktur  BMWi - tasks and structure
  • Zentralabteilung - Z
  • Central unit - Z
  • Europapolitik - E
  • European Policy - E
  • Wirtschaftspolitik - I
  • Economic policy - I
  • Mittelstandspolitik - II
  • Mid-tier policy - II
  • Energiepolitik - III
  • Energy policy - III
  • Industriepolitik - IV
  • Industrial policy - IV
  • Außenwirtschaftspolitik - V
  • External economic policy - V
  • Kommunikations- und Postpolitik - VI
  • Communications and postal policy - VI
  • Technologiepolitik - VII
  • Technology Policy - VII

  • *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Tue Oct 27th, 2009 at 03:16:11 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    btw, i'm not certain, but i believe Mittelstandpolitick denotes policy medium-sized business.  In a sense, the entrepreneurial class.

    "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
    by Crazy Horse on Tue Oct 27th, 2009 at 03:50:15 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I was unsure about the correct English term.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Tue Oct 27th, 2009 at 05:34:28 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    This might be worth cross-posting on dKos, as an educational post on European politics. Would you allo me to do so?

    In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
    by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 06:41:15 PM EST
    Yep; but when? (I'm going to sleep in minutes.)

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Oct 26th, 2009 at 07:27:54 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    When you post it over at dKos, I'd add the following (in blockquotes as below) right below the fold:

    Germany is a parliamentary democracy. For my American readers, I emphasize the differences to your Presidential system:

    1. If there is a President or monarch, its function is representative only.
    2. The most important election is that for the House.
    3. The House elects the government (the cabinet of ministers).
    4. The cabinet is supposed to make collective decisions, the prime minister leads them but has no ultimate power.

    (That's theory; practice is murkier.)

    At the beginning of the second paragraph on Merkel, I'd add for dKos: "From afar, Merkel may seem a gentle, conflict-shy person. However, the real "

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

    by DoDo on Tue Oct 27th, 2009 at 06:36:06 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    A third necessary insert, again in blockquotes, best placed right after Westerwelle's photo:

    Note: liberalism is about liberties: freedoms. But, while US liberalism focuses on creating equal opportunities to enjoy freedoms, with Big Government intervention if necessary; not so in the rest of the world. In fact, many liberals in the world today focus on the same modern free-market fundamentalism that is expoused by US liberal-haters. From Buenos Aires to Stockholm, this market-fundie form of liberalism is often called "neoliberalism".

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Tue Oct 27th, 2009 at 07:52:15 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    with the requested changes


    In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

    by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 27th, 2009 at 10:01:17 AM EST
    [ Parent ]

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