Friday, January 19, 2007

German politics: Edmund Stoiber's Swan Song

Once more Germany has been fascinated, relieved and, at the same time, a little disgusted to watch one of its most prominent political leaders dissemble and be sent, as it were, to the underworld.
I'm talking about Edmund Stoiber the prime minister of Bavaria, one of the largest regions in Germany and party leader of the conservative CSU. He caused a big riot in the pary after he announced his plans to run for prime minister once more (his third time). That would have meant a period of another five years (until 2013). Stoiber is 65 years old. That was not acceptable for the party. Not after his withdrawal from Berlin in 2005 where he was the designated minister of economic affairs. He came back to Bavaria where his succession was almost home and dry.
It was a misconception of Stoiber that he was still the sovereign leader of the party and Bavaria.As the fight for power dragged on over the past days and weeks, devoted kowtowing was the rule in Stoiber's circle.
While nearly everyone carried a dagger in his clothes, no one dared to say out loud who the knife was meant for.
Finally the attack of a small district chief executive was the last straw. Only this courageous woman Gabriele Pauli (political officeholder) in Fürth (close to Nuremberg) had the nerve to say that Stoiber's time was up.
The tabloid Bild mounted a campaign against his potential opponent Horst Seehofer (German minister of agriculture) about an affair with a member of his staff and an alleged illegitimate child.The satirical magazine Titanic counterattacked (see picture, it says: "Is this his child?").
Edmund Stoiber tried to fight but he had to resign soon. The polls for the party fell below 50%, a catastrophe for a party that holds the absolute majority in Bavaria since 1962 (!) Yesterday he declared to give up all poilitical offices in September this year. He is gone with the wind, matching the storm Kyrill yesterday.
Stoiber's departure is a lesson on the limits of power and on the decision-making process in a democracy. His party, the conservative CSU received a huge black eye. Actually it needs quite a lot of fresh blood. If this can be a candidate like Günther Beckstein with his 63 years can be doubted.


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