Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Not Her First Choice

Joachim Gauck and Angela Merkel

German President Christian Wulff resigned in disgrace last Friday after revelations of allegedly corrupt dealings made it “impossible for him to carry out his duties”. A couple of days ago the ruling coalition agreed to appoint Joachim Gauck as his successor.

Mr. Gauck would not have been Chancellor Angela Merkel’s first choice as president. In fact, his appointment over her objections seems to have been a serious political blow for her.

JLH has translated two articles about the Angela Merkel and Joachim Gauck. The first is from Politically Incorrect:

Gauck Nomination : Merkel Blew Her Top

She is known as a self-controlled power seeker. But when the FDP [Free Democratic Party, center-right classical liberals] spoke publicly for Joachim Gauck despite her rejection, Chancellor Angela Merkel was beside herself. Merkel had intended to install former CDU environmental minister Klaus Töpfer as a compliant leftist colleague in Schloss Bellevue.

GMX (mail and news service online) reports:

The chancellor is in an unusual state. On this notable Sunday in the chancellery, Angela Merkel raged and screamed. In a one-on-one talk with Vice Chancellor Phillip Rösler. So vehemently that many overheard it. She even brings up the question of the coalition, to the horror of union members — amd threatens that she might throw out the FDP ministers. “Do you want that?” she roars at the head of her small coalition partner.

Taking things in order: In a pause in the phone negotiations on a non-partisan candidate for president, Merkel confirms that her CDU steering committee were, as she was, against the former GDR civil rights activist Joachim Gauck. She began the conversation with the statement that the SPD and Greens favorite was out of the question. Gauck was a man of the past and not broadly based enough for the office, was the word on Monday in CDU circles.

“Does anyone in the group see it differently?” she wants to know. No one contradicts her. Lower Saxony president David McAllister also asked whether the FDP had made candidate suggestions of their own. Yes — but Gauck’s name is not mentioned here. The CDU favorite was the former CDU environmental minister Klaus Töpfer, Merkel confirms. Several committee members are feeling a stomach ache, but do not dare to tell the chief.

Rösler anyway made it clear to the chancellor several times since the resignation of Christian Wulff that the FDP would not support Töpfer, because that would be a signal for Black-Green.[1] Merkel ignores that. She miscalculates. Shortly after the CDU conference, report of the FDP support for Gauck comes through on Merkel’s cell. The chancellor is stunned. By their own account, old companions have seldom seen the 57-year-old in such a state.

Meanwhile, successful author Thilo Sarrazin is happy at the possibility that Joachim Gauck could become president.

The second article is an encomium for the new president from Junge Freiheit:
Joachim Gauck Will Be a Good President

The president-to-be is called Joachim Gauck. After the hasty resignation of Christian Wulff,[2] it only took 48 hours until the party heads in the Bundestag agreed. The CDU/CSU at first pushed other candidates, but had to admit defeat in the face of overwhelming attitude in the media and public, especially when, on Sunday, the FDP[3] deserted for the camp of Gauck supporters.

In Joachim Gauck, the chancellor is getting a serious opponent. Like her, he comes from the former German Democratic Republic, but unlike her, he had already taken risks for freedom before the fall of the Wall, and fought against the regime as a civil rights activist. As head of the Stasi document authority, he earned great credit in the reviewing of the SED (Communist Party) dictatorship. He is a smart intellectual, committed to no party, a person of integrity. And he is a brilliant speaker. He will not allow himself to be reduced to a rubber stamp and relegated to stand-in duties.

Gauck praised Sarrazin

In contrast to the catchwords about the “diversified republic” with which Wulff played down the pressing problems of immigration and integration, sober comments of his are abroad and he repeatedly called for politicians to pay attention to the citizens’ concerns. In contrast to the chancellor, who discounted Thilo Sarrazin’s book Germany Abolishes Itself as being “of little help” and was a driving force in his fall from as chair of the federal bank, Gauck credited Sarrazin with “courage” and declared in a press conference: “He has spoken openly about a problem in society as policy.” The political class, he said, could learn from the success of Sarrazin’s book that “their talking about political correctness gives people the feeling that the real problems are supposed to be covered up.”

The hasty resignation of Wulff and the nomination of Gauck as new president: two good political decisions.

1. A CDU-Green Party coalition
2. Became notorious for his statement that “Islam belongs in Germany.”
3. The junior partner in the ruling coalition, which recently lost heavily in by-elections to Greens and Socialists.



So it is little black moustaches all round then?.