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Germany’s problems — a German Thatcher to the rescue?

Posted by Richard on June 1, 2005

Arthur Chrenkoff is presenting a two-part guest blog by German journalist/historian/blogger Ulrich Speck on Germany’s challenges and the possibility that CDU leader Angela Merkel will be Germany’s Thatcher. Part one is here. Part two may be posted by the time you read this.

Highly recommended. Assuming you have any interest in what’s happening in Germany. Speck provides a good brief history of Germany since 1989. In particular, I liked his insights regarding the weakness of Gerhardt Schroeder (emphasis added):

His start was promising. He seemed prepared to finally attack the structural problems of the welfare state which have become much urgent since unification. He seemed to be attached by liberalism (in the European sense): more individual freedom and responsibility, less state. …

It took not long, very short indeed, that Schroeder’s ideas on the reform of the social state got in conflict with the unions and the leftists in his party, the social-democrats (SPD). To make it short: in his seven years he made a first step in reform. But in a very timid, defensive manner. He always presented reforms as a necessary evil. He never talked about new chances, meanwhile many talked about losses. The message was: Unfortunately, globalization forces us to take steps in a bad direction. Unfortunately, we cannot resist. And Schroeder never presented a vision where he wanted to go. He failed to build support.

My guess is that, like every "moderate centrist," he has no vision and doesn’t know where he wants to go.

Part one provides only a brief introduction to Merkel:

What Merkel did with great success is to manage her own advancement in the party, as an outsider, as a woman from the East. She is not from the establishment. She was also successful in holding her party together. And now she has triumphed again over her male rivals, getting nominated as the candidate for the top position in the government.

Angela Merkel is not a German Maggie Thatcher. But she may become one. … 

Stay tuned for part two. And cross your fingers. The world needs more Maggie Thatchers.

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