I can just imagine that little rat-trap mouth of Mrs. Merkel practically disappearing as it tightened in displeasure at the news that her party had been pipped to the post in yesterday's election in Lower Saxony. She had expected an easy win given that the leader of the opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), simply does not have enough mouths to put his feet in! The man, Peer Steinbrück, is a practitioner of the art of 'opening mouth and letting belly rumble' - for which this blog extends its admiration given that it is commonplace here! Anyway, his party stumbled down the polls with every utterence but ... but ... it still won!
According to Spiegel, Herr Steinbrück at least owned up to his gaffes:
He went further, saying that the party had done well despite him, rather than because of him. "I'm very aware of the fact that there wasn't much tailwind from Berlin and I'm also aware that I'm partly responsible for that," the notoriously outspoken former finance minister, who has confounded his party with a series of gaffes in recent months, told party supporters as the results came in on Sunday night.
Well, there's a novelty, a politician and truth in the same room! This man bears watching:
Steinbrück's pet projects are tax and finance policy. He proved his worth as a crisis manager during the 2007-2009 financial and economic crisis when he was finance minister under Merkel in her first term.
But his no-nonsense pragmatism and focus on finance are at odds with the working class idealism of the party which is proud of its roots in the 19th century labor movement. Part of his charisma is that he doesn't avoid a fight, which sets him apart from the far more cautious Merkel. But his combative nature sometimes makes him speak out without immediately thinking of the consequences. He can come across as arrogant.
So he appears to understand finance and economics and is not lost in a welter of sentimentality of the sort indulged in by Lefties everywhere (see: Obama, Barack; inaugeration of.) Hopefully, he is equally clear-eyed when it comes to matters European. The election is due next September (I think!) andit may be more interesting than observers thought. In any case, one important result of this local election is that the SPD now control the Upper House outright which means that Madame Merkel cannot pass any programmes without their approval. What's the German for 'interesting times' - can't be arsed to Google Translate it.