Sunday, September 25, 2005

Goodbye to Berlin?

In general, German elections are as exciting as listening to a Wagner opera without music.
This year however, the German politics turned out to be highly entertaining, not in the least due to the cast of colorful characters.

First, we have Joschka Fisher, whose life should be made into a Hollywood blockbuster.
Fisher is currently the eminence gris of the "realos" (the "realists" faction of the Green Party) and served until the elections as the high-profile foreign minister who faced down the pacifists in his own party and sent German airmen to war in Kosovo. Go figure.
He started his career as a high school drop out, eloping to Gretna Green in Scotland to marry his first wife, who was then a minor. Back in Frankfurt, a centre of revolutionary and left wing causes in the 60s and 70s, he took casual jobs, including that of taxi-driver. He opposed the Vietnam war, and mixed with the likes of "Danny the Red" - the radical student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit - as well as figures such as Hans-Joachim Klein, a suspected kidnapper and murderer who is now standing trial for his part in the 1975 attack on an OPEC oil ministers meeting in which three people died. In 2001, he was forced to apologize for his past as a left-wing militant when a series of pictures were published showing him as a bearded young demonstrator attacking a policeman in the street.

The second male lead is Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who has been the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) for decades and served as Chancellor for the last seven years. A charismatic speaker, he is also vain (he challenged a journalist who wrote that he colors his hair) and tends to be arrogant. He fought a brilliant campaign with wife #4 glued to his side. Although a socialist, he is credited succeeded in making the rich in German megarich.

The third main character is Angela Merkel, the leader of the Christian Democrat Party (CDU). She is a lackluster figure – try to picture a chubby Martha Stewart without charm, makeup, polish and energy. Funny enough, she used “Angie” of the Rolling Stones as her theme music. According to the German press, the Stones weren’t too happy about that, especially since they were touring Europe at that time. Born and raised in the former DDR (communist East Germany), she is conservative, pro-Iraq war and wants to be close to the USA.

After lots of campaigning, the poles showed that Merkel had the lead.
What happened then is every politician’s nightmare: Merkel won with a minimal margin.
As a result, Merkel claimed a huge victory and Schröder proclaimed himself the obvious choice for Chancellor.

What really happened is a country telling its politicians “we don’t know who to elect.”
Since none of the parties has a clear majority, they have to form a coalition. Let the courting start.
There are currently three scenarios:
  1. A coalition of Angela’s CDU (black), Fisher’s Green Party, and the Liberal Party (yellow). Due to the color combination, they are dubbed the “Jamaica Connection,” which is in my opinion is ground enough for Jamaica to start a major lawsuit and file a complaint at the United Nations.
    The parties were even able to enlist a reggae band that sang in German (may be Fisher wants to give us the feeling that the 60s were really good?)
  2. A coalition of Schröder’s Socialist Party with Fisher’s Green party and the Liberals.
    Not be outdone in cuteness, they dubbed themselves the “Traffic Light” connection.
    Does Schröder know how many people run a red light? Just a thought…
  3. The Grand Coalition in which Angie’s & Gerry’s parties rule together. This one will be short-lived but fun. Fur will fly when the two of them will lock horns on who’s going to be Chancellor. If I were a betting person, I would put my money on Schröder. Some poor soul even suggested that they should rule together. Yeah, sure, remember what happened to the triumvirate in Rome and to Cleopatra’s brother/co-ruler? Exactly!

    In the coming week, the farce will continue…and then they say that Germans have no sense of humor! So stay tuned to find out who will say goodbye to Berlin....

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