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The Worried Winner
Eingestellt am 13. 10. 2005 17:13

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The Worried Winner
Welcome to the First All-German Toad-Kissing Championship

Three weeks have passed by since the German federal elections (Bundestagswahlen), but not until now we have got a clue who will try to govern Germany for the next four years. On October 18 the Bundestag will elect the new Chancellor and today it looked as if Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union) will lead a grand coalition containing her CDU, the sister party Christian Social Union and her favorite foe, the Social Democratic Party, which had been the senior partner in our defeated administration under Gerhard Schröder. Nobody really anticipated this outcome, but the deadlock of the election results made it inevitable. All parties had been shelling out insults galore during the electoral campaign, excluding exactly any cooperation with the “foe”, but they will have to get used to the idea, that this “foe” is the partner they will have to depend on for the next legislation period.
Our former Foreign Secretary, Joseph “Joschka” Fischer (Green/Bündnis 90), who had made clear right after the election that he would not participate in any subsequent administration, was the first loser. Today, Gerhard Schröder had to admit that in Ms. Merkel’s cabinet there would be no place for him. He is said to retire into a private life, but he will keep his options open.
Angela Merkel is not really happy with her victory, though. The price she had to pay was another deadlock: her Christian Union(s) will be awarded eight seats in her cabinet, but the Social Democrats will get eight seats as well. This is a disaster waiting to happen. The most important ministries will fall to her Christian Unions, but those with social explosives will remain under SPD control. Neither group can rule against the other, both have to compromise the essential goals of their electoral campaigns in order to gain power. Any action this cabinet can agree on will be that of the smallest denominator. In other words, the change in policy, our country needs so desperately, will not happen, at least not within the next few years.
Our welfare state is compiling deficits faster and faster, our social security Ponzi scheme is bankrupt, our national debt is out of control, we will not be able to meet the Maastricht Criteria for a stable currency for the next twenty years at least, but neither Ms. Merkel nor her cabinet will be able to stop or at least decelerate this development.
All we are going to get is a more expensive, more bureaucratic and more invasive state, as one of the losers called it: a planned and organized stagnation.
The first grand coalition, Germany had between 1966 and 1969, broke a deadlock, the Christian Democratic Union had worked itself into. The Kiesinger administration could lower labor costs, restore parts of a market, break a recession and reduce national debt. This “Cabinet of Abilities and Talents’ ” work resulted in almost twenty years of a recuperating economy, which not even the Social Democratic chancellors Brandt and Schmidt could destroy. When Schmidt lost his impetus, stagnation took over, personified by Helmut Kohl, and it is going to last.
To break this stagnation is not an option Angela Merkel has. Her greatest success will be to survive four years as the first female Bundeskanzler without entirely destroying our country. Her latitude of leadership can be measured in minutes of angle at best. She must be content if her cat herding talents might help her survive her term without being completely paralyzed or back-stabbed, preferably by her best friends. Real friends she has none, being an outsider from Easter Germany who has not gone through the regular channels in her party. Her hour came when the former leaders of her party, including Chancellor Kohl, were discredited by a vast and dirty corruption affair. Ms. Merkel was smart enough to drop her friend and fatherly promoter Kohl when his involvement in this affair became too obvious. She could fill a gap, but she gained no friends – and that’s her party. On the other side, in the ranks of the Social Democratic Party, she can expect no sympathy at all. They really hate her guts. Though the negotiations made the way clear for Angie’s chancellorship, it is not guaranteed that on October 18, even all of her own party members will vote for her, not to mention Social Democrats. I guess, this is a stable and sound foundation for a long term partnership...

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