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Thursday, September 15, 2005


Edward Hugh

Yes, all very interesting. One has the feeling that this election is an important one. It is also a time for testing the theories, as if Germany and Japan now don't get 'lift off' this should provoke a deeper reflection about 'why'.

Merkel will probably win, but she certainly has been a 'comedy of errors'. You would have thought that after all the years in opposition the CDU would have had their economic policy all ironed out, and wouldn't have had to go through all the 'dirty washing in public' bit that has characterised the campaign.

In the end I'm inclined to agree with Tobias: they just aren't fully convinced themselves that all the radical proposals will actually work. So the doubts cause the hesitation and finally the in-fighting.

Apart from the economics, you have to question Merkel's judgement in the international plane too. She really isn't handling the Turkey situation very adeptly, and this also has an obvious impact on the voting intentions of German citizens of Turkish origin. Her posture also isn't seen as very immigrant friendly, just when a declining workforce means that Germany is going to need economic migrants.

And as far as foreign policy goes, being more positive about Iraq, and Bush hardly squares with opposing Turkish accession to the EU. I'm certainly not a great admirer of Joschka Fisher, but I do have to agree with this:

Germany's foreign minister accused the conservative opposition Thursday of taking a "dangerously blind and irresponsible" stance by slamming the door on Turkish hopes of joining the European Union....in an interview with the mass-circulation Bild daily, Fischer said "we are taking no risk" in opening talks aimed at bringing Turkey into the bloc. Merkel has argued that the talks — scheduled to open Oct. 3 — also should look at the possibility of a "privileged partnership" that falls short of EU membership."The decision on yes or no will come only at the end of this long process, when a truly Europe-compatible Turkey stands in front of us," Fischer was quoted as saying. "The position ... of slamming the door in Turkey's face is dangerously blind and irresponsible," he added. "We must have every interest in moving forward the comprehensive process of modernization and the firm anchoring of Turkey in the West."

When you add all this up, despite the summer of our discontent it isn't hard to see why she is struggling to get a majority.

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