Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Change of guard in German SPD

In an extraordinary meeting of the presidium of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the party leader, Kurt Beck, suddenly resigned. The new strong man in the party is the Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is also one of the country’s strongest ministers. His profile has been raised by the crisis with Russia, where he has taken a strong line in favour of a cool reaction to the conflict in Georgia. Steinmeier, indeed, is a disciple of the pro-Russian former Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. Following Beck’s unexpected resignation, Steinmeier suggested that Frank Müntefering, currently Vice Chancellor and Labour Minister, become party leader and that he, Steinmeier, be the party’s next candidate for Chancellor. Both decisions were accepted. (It is typical in Germany for the party leader not to be the candidate for the head of the government.) This means that Steinmeier is now in fact Angela Merkel’s rival, since he wants her job at the same time as serving in her government. Naturally this will increase tensions within the Grand Coalition government. Some voices in the CDU have attacked the SPD, with which they govern in a grand coalition, for its internal instability. They no doubt also fear the return of the influence of Schröder: the CDU leader, Angela Merkel, has taken a virulently anti-Russian line over the Georgian crisis and has been reined in only by Steinmeier. [Süddeutsche Zeitung, 8 September 2008]

-- From The European Journal. Sign up for FREE to John Laughland's 'Intelligence Digest' to find out what’s really happening in Europe --

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