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The good Aunt Angela phenomenon
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-09-29 07:52:09
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The truth is Angela Merkel was never going to lose the office and the odd truth is that the looks of a good aunt really works for her! Walter Steinmeier on the other side reminds me of the Gargamel character from the Smurfs’ cartoons; always in the loop and always looking for somebody to blame. Well, Oscar Lafontaine was a good target for blame but not enough, oddly even al-Qaeda worked for Aunt Angela this time with their threatening messages.

Steinmeier said that this was a very bad day for the Social Democrats but the truth is it was a catastrophic result for them; their only hope is to use this chance to find their lost identity. The German Social Democrats have to deal with exactly the same problem as their counterparts in the rest of Europe. Seeing people turn more to the centre over the last two decades, especially after the fall of the Berlin wall, and the end of the Soviet Union era, they felt that they had to turn to the right as well. The problem is that they turned so far right that they ended up closer to the conservatives than to their traditional socialist left.   

This cost them their traditional voters, followed by a younger generation that hasn’t lived through the glorious days of Willy Brandt for example, and gradually the Social Democrats were socialists only by name. The next thing was to lose the unions, the fundamental supporters of their structure. This happened when the Social Democrats fought against the powerful union turning them into puppets of their policy, a policy that was often more conservative than the Conservative Party’s. And then it was the unification. The unification worked against anything that had to do with the word …socialism, and the Social Democrats became a nightmare from the past while Angela Merkel was the dream people had hoped for. On top of that… she has the looks!

I’m not joking; the woman really has the looks of a good auntie with sweets in her pockets and a reassuring face that everything will be fine. During her first term she proved that she can balance even with her fist if necessary, both nationally and internationally. Unemployment reached record high numbers and the government is in deep trouble, but Merkel is not willing to raise taxes; on the contrary she’s planning to cut taxes in an effort to help growth. And her plan seems to work already, mainly because contrary to what the Americans did, she reinforced state control over the financial exchanges.

The recession hit Germany hard mainly because it seems that since the unification Germany never had the chance to recover. Every time things seemed to get better another international hit came, however even under those circumstances the German economy seems to be doing better than many at the moment. And it seems that the good aunt has a plan for the future as well; something that definitely attracted the vote of the middle class German. Apparently that’s the vote that makes the difference today in Germany. This is where the Social Democrats lost; in the confidence of the people.

After this defeat the Social Democrats are obviously going to follow the same path as the French Social Democrats, let’s just hope it will not go on that long! I mentioned Oskar Lafontaine and his departure from the SDP. He is to create a new party with the name “the left” and gather around him all the disappointed people from the Social Democrats and those who believe in socialism; people who don’t want to be connected with the communist or the socialist past. The man cost a lot of votes to the SDP but he can be also the future solution if Steinmeier decides that it is time to …go home! Perhaps Oskar’s return will point the time of change for the SDP and its return to the fundamental ideas and aims.

But for the moment Aunt Angela is the winner, and this time her victory is even bigger since she won’t have to ally with the socialists and she will feel free to apply all the small and big plans she has. The only thing I hope for the Germans is that good Aunt Angela won’t turn into the witch from the Hansel and Gretel story; remember the one who didn’t only have a pocket full of sweets, but a whole house!


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