[Peer Steinbrück, the chancellor-candidate] is a good man, with quite a bold programme for ‘social justice’. Tax increases for the better-off, a proper minimum wage, dual citizenship for immigrants, less elbowing individualism and more solidarity in a society where das Wir entscheidet – ‘it’s the we that counts.’ The German public, surprisingly, mostly agree that increasing taxes is a sound idea. What they resent is that the idea comes from the SPD. In the same way, the Augsburg programme is widely thought to make sense, but the voters don’t fancy Peer Steinbrück. They are pissed off with Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, but reluctant to let go of Mutti’s hand. In short, the public are in one of those sullen, unreasonable moods which make politicians despair.
This article in the London Review of Books is the single best thing I’ve read about the state of German politics in a long long while. Coming from across the channel, somewhat ironically.
It’s the most bizarre of times: A conceptually and morally vacuous chancellor enjoying record popularity, leading a party in steady federal and municipal decline to staggering national highs, and “…the worst government Germany has had since 1945” presiding over economic prosperity.
I’m somewhat less optimistic there’s “serious danger to Merkel” from the Greens or anybody else in the short- to mid-term, but I guess we’ll all find out soon enough.
If you’re at all interested in a primer on the upcoming general election—and due to its importance and implications for the European project you probably should be—, this is a brilliant pick.
(Obviously, you’re also always free to indulge in liberal use of my ask box.)