Heard repeatedly yesterday: “Steinmeier has been an excellent Foreign Minister, but I just can’t stand the Social Democrats any more.”
I wonder how many portfolios our Yellow friends will get. In theory, a Conservative/Liberal, CDU/FDP government is perfectly normal. But in practice, the usual Black/Yellow government has been something like “300 Black seats, 40 Yellow”. This is going to be more like “240 Black, 90 Yellow”. The Liberals will be able to claim some serious mojo this time.
And speaking of portfolios, everyone is saying Liberal leader Guido Westerwelle will be the next Foreign Minister. (“And what a shame, because Steinmeier was so good.”) Giving this portfolio to the junior partner is an odd German tradition that dates back to at least the 1970s; the last three foreign ministers have been a Social Democrat under a CDU Prime Minister, a Green under a Social Democrat, and a Liberal under a CDU. For at least one of those (Fischer under Schroeder) I wonder if the point wasn’t to keep a charismatic/energetic leader of the coalition partner out of the country and so unable to work mischief. There are a lot of people who still remember 1982’s “Constructive Vote of No Confidence” when the FDP stuck it into Helmut Schmidt’s back, rotated hard, and then snapped off the handle.
Isn’t Angela Merkel’s lack of charisma amazing? A friend and I recently went down the list of G20 leaders and concluded that she was the single most boring individual on it. It’s sort of awesome that someone so utterly dull can be elected the leader of a major liberal democracy in the 21st century. And not just once, but twice! Fantastic!
The weather was gorgeous here in Bavaria, and nice over most of the country. Nonetheless, turnout was anemic. The Social Democrats are already spinning this as an explanation for their crushing losses. It makes you wonder what the results would have been had it rained.
And speaking of which, whither the SPD? When was the last time a major European center-left party got hammered like this in the middle of a recession? If it’s like this when times are hard, how will people vote if the economy is booming?
In retrospect, didn’t the Grand Coalition work way better than anyone thought it would? A year from now, will we be missing it?
When you hear “Angie and Guido”, what comes to mind? (For me it sounds like the title of a half-forgotten Billy Joel song from the 1970s.)