ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Schroeder's SPD is Toast, Part II

Well, it looks like the CDU/CSU might be losing steam, although the numbers still point to a significant defeat for Herr Schroeder. My Part I of "Schroeder's SPD is Toast" post is here. Whoever wrote this news story provides a typical leftist perspective. Oh, wait... source is Agence France Presse. (Of Course!):

Merkel gathers advisors to salvage German election campaign
Wed Sep 14, 8:24 AM ET

BERLIN (AFP) - German opposition challenger Angela Merkel huddled with her closest advisors in a bid to get her election campaign back on track against a resurgent Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

After holding a clear advantage for much of the election campaign, Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats have seen their lead slashed in half by Schroeder's Social Democrats with just four days to go until Sunday's voting.

Merkel now risks seeing her hopes of forming a coalition with her preferred partners, the Free Democrats, evaporate.

In a campaign dominated by the economy and tax, Schroeder has apparently succeeded in scaring undecided voters away from the Christian Democrats by homing in on controversial proposals for a 25 percent flat tax rate made by Merkel's shadow finance minister Paul Kirchhof.

Merkel's meeting with her campaign team was expected to focus on calls for her to replace Kirchhof, a former constitutional judge.

Interesting that any flat tax proposal, along with any general cut in tax rates, is always tagged with the qualifier "controversial."
A poll released on Tuesday showed the Christian Democrats' support holding steady at 42 percent but gave the Social Democrats (SPD) 33.5 percent, confirming that Schroeder has made a lasting dent in his challenger's lead.
I suppose that if you start in the cellar, any improvement will be seen as a great climb up the ladder. Going from 18% down to just 9% down is an improvement, but he still has a long way to go to be able to create his coalition of the Leftists and form a government over the CDU.
But the Emnid poll for N24 television also predicted that Merkel's chosen coalition would score the same 48.5 percent as an alliance of Schroeder's Social Democrats, their current partners the Greens and the Left Party, an amalgamation of former communists and disgruntled Social Democrats.
Good to know that the commies are still a strong constituency 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall!!

However, all three parties are currently ruling out such a coalition.

Merkel told a rally in Stralsund in the former East Germany on Tuesday that only her chosen coalition could bring a political upheaval and reduce the country's stubbornly high unemployment rate of 11.4 percent.

"We urgently need a political change in Germany. You will only get that change with the CDU/CSU and the FDP," Merkel said in a feisty speech.

Schroeder himself told a rally in Potsdam outside Berlin late Tuesday to ignore the opinion polls which showed he was still up to nine points behind.

"It is not they who will decide, but we when we go to the polls on Sunday," Schroeder said to applause from the crowd of 9,000.

Neither leader mentioned the possibility that the election will produce an unwieldy grand coalition of the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, with Merkel at the helm of what could be a deadlocked government and Schroeder in political retirement.

In my recent travels abroad, I had the chance to discuss this election with someone who will be voting in it... and let me tell you, the Germans have had enough of Schroeder and it's unlikely that he'll pull this one out, despite all of the hopes & dreams of journalists in Europe and around the world.

Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
showing his soft and cuddly side
as he gives a speech about the Fatherland

And Hugo Schwyzer, (read his bio!) provides some interesting insight into the race:
The gender dimensions to the election are interesting. The conservative candidate is Angela Merkel, 51, from the once-Communist east. She's a physicist, married to a chemist, and she has never had children. As the LA Times describes her:

Merkel's ascent met with sexist attitudes, bringing scrutiny to her fashion sense as well as her politics in a nation where only 7% of top managers in major companies are women. She wears off-the-rack dresses; her hairstyle (blunt bangs) and lipstick (muted) became the stuff of tabloid fascination. The conservative Die Welt called her frumpy and suggested a makeover.

On the other hand, Gerhard Schroeder, the incumbent Social Democrat and, to my mind, a thoroughly decent and moderately leftish figure, is (like your scribe here) married to his fourth wife. As Fred Vincy relates, Schroeder's wife has attacked Merkel for being a childless woman. Fred links to this Yahoo news story:

Doris Schroeder-Koepf, 42... said (Merkel's) career path had left her out of touch with the daily experience of most German women.

"Merkel's biography does not embody the experience of most women," Schroeder-Koepf, a former journalist, told Die Zeit. "They are concerned with how they can have a family and a job, whether they should stay home for a few years after the birth, or how they can best raise their children."

Merkel has refused to be drawn into the issue, stating only that her lack of children was not a conscious decision.

Sigh. What's a good left-wing profeminist to do when the fourth wife (twenty years younger than her husband) of the progressive incumbent smears the thoroughly admirable lifestyle of the educated, childless, yet conservative candidate? While I have no desire to see Merkel win the election and move Germany towards a more pro-U.S. foreign policy and free-market economy, I'm so appalled at Schroeder-Koepf's remarks that I'm half-pulling for a Merkel victory.

I am aware, however, of how impossible it would be for a childless physicist in her fifties to ever be nominated for president by the Republican party in this country. Childlessness is, I think, still an unforgivable flaw in conservative women candidates for American higher office. Then again, Condi Rice may prove me wrong in 2008.

Yes, what is a profeminist to do? Stick to one's principles?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler