December 3, 2014

THERE ARE NO POLITICAL DIFFERENCES AT THE eND OF hISTORY:

The Quiet German : The astonishing rise of Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world. (GEORGE PACKER, 2014-12-01, The New Yorker)

After the Chancellor, it's the turn of the opposition to speak--such as it is. The ruling coalition of Merkel's Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats has eighty per cent of the seats in the Bundestag. The Greens, who did poorly in last year's election, have had trouble distinguishing their agenda from Merkel's, and often lend her support. On this day, the role of opposition is left to Die Linke, the leftist party of mostly former East German politicians, which has just ten per cent of parliament. Sahra Wagenknecht, an orthodox Marxist in a brilliant-red suit, steps behind the lectern and berates Merkel for her economic and foreign policies, which, she says, are bringing Fascism back to Europe. "We must stop abusing a highly dangerous, half-hegemonic position that Germany slid into, in the ruthless old German style," Wagenknecht declares. She then cites the French historian Emmanuel Todd: "Unknowingly, the Germans are on their way to again take their role as bringers of calamity for the other European peoples, and later for themselves."

Merkel ignores her. She's laughing about something with her economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel, and her foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, both Social Democrats. While Wagenknecht accuses the government of supporting Fascists in Kiev, Merkel gets up to chat with her ministers in the back row. She returns to her seat and rummages in an orange-red leather handbag that clashes with her jacket. When she glances up at Wagenknecht, it's with a mixture of boredom and contempt.

The speaker ends her jeremiad, and the only people to clap are the members of Die Linke, isolated in the far-left section of the chamber. One by one, Social Democratic and Green parliamentarians come forward to defend Merkel. "How can you connect us Germans to Fascists?" Katrin Göring-Eckardt, a Green leader, asks, to applause. Another woman from Die Linke throws a quote of Bertolt Brecht at Göring-Eckardt: "Who does not know the truth is simply a fool, yet who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a criminal." Göring-Eckardt is outraged. The vice-president of the Bundestag orders the woman from Die Linke to observe protocol. Merkel keeps ignoring the exchange, at one point turning her back, at another leaving the hall. Later, German news accounts will speak of high drama in the normally drowsy Bundestag, but Merkel's body language tells the story: the drama has been provided by an insignificant minority. Chancellor Merkel has the parliament under control.

Posted by at December 3, 2014 1:40 PM
  

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