Monday, October 10, 2005

German Grand Coalition under Angela Merkel

The Guardian weblog has a post on the contradictions inherent in the new Grand Coalition in Germany.
... the story isn’t quite over, not least because of the rapidly mounting fury among Social Democrat supporters that their leadership has sacrificed Mr Schröder and done a deal with the neo-Thatcherite Ms Merkel. Johannes Kahrs, the speaker of the SPD’s influential rightwing Seeheimer (German) circle, today said there was "sheer horror" inside the parliamentary faction at the prospect of Ms Merkel as Germany’s leader. "The CDU having the industry ministry and the SPD having the labour ministry is a recipe for total blockade," he said.

Other SPD activists said they would vote against the deal when it is put to the party at a conference to be held in Karlsruhe in mid-November. If the deal is approved, but only narrowly, there seems little prospect of Germany's new left-right government lasting a full four-year term. Indeed, the real winner from today’s announcement is probably Germany’s new Left party (German).


With the SPD occupying crucial ministries such as finance and labour, the Left party is likely to profit in the long run when disillusionment with the "grand coalition" sets in, as it inevitably will. This is, after all, what happened last time there was a grand coalition in Germany in the late 1960s. The period yielded the Red Army Faction, a terrorist group, and the best ever result for the neo-Nazi NPD (German) in 1969, with voters drifting off to the radical left and radical right.

As Joe Hendren points out, it is the center- right within SPD-Greens that has given a fillip to the Christian Democrats, the SPD-Green-Left combine having got 51.1% of the vote while the Christian Democrats (CPU and CDU combined) and FDP got only 43.9% of the vote. It is the centrists going on to ally themselves with the neo- liberal Right in order to isolate the Left.

The significance of the coming together of the SPD under a neo- Thatcherite Ms Merkel should not be lost for those in South Asia and elsewhere. In India, for example, the Congress and the BJP have hardly differed on their economic agenda for the last decade and half.

There is little that the BJP can counter (whenever it finds time from its own internal squabbles) in the UPA's current economic agenda. It is, on the other hand, the Left-despite its dogmatism in many ways- that continues to provide the semblance of an opposition to the Manmohan Singh government. Otherwise, given the trio of Manmohan Singh- Chidambram and Montek Singh, India would be a full blown re-enactment of South America in the 1980s or East Europe and Russia in the 1990s.

Were it not for Mrs Sonia Gandhi's strong stand against the BJP's communal fascism, the scenario post-2004 elections in India may not have been too different from that of Germany today.

The coming together of the Congress and the BJP is still a strong possibility. More than ever, it is Mrs Gandhi that stands between that alliance.


2 comments:

Joe Hendren said...

thanks for the link :)

Quite interested in your comments about the similarity of the situation in India - its a very similiar situation in New Zealand. Parties historically of the left have adopted neo-liberal economic and trade policies of the right, leaving very little difference between the two major parties.

I liked a quote Naomi Klein made when she visited NZ a few years ago. "Perhaps it really is globalisation - its the same bullshit whereever you go!"

I see Candide is one of your fav books - I have recently written an article criticising NZ (so called centre-left) government's plans for a free trade agreement with China, which includes a few quotes from voltaire - will be posting a link to it in the next few days if you are interested.

bhupinder singh said...

That quote from Naomi Klein is very telling.

Personally I feel that while we on the Left have a comprehensive critique of globalization, we dont really have demonstratable economic alternative. That is the reason that the Left when in power can at best come up with something called the 'Third Way', which is little more than a shadow of the Right's economic program.

Look forward to your post with the Candide quotes !