A commonplace of german politics

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We can play it differently

3 February, 2010 (22:19) | particulars, parties | By: Aerar

(German version published on 24 Oktober, 2009)

Now we know what the new Cabinet of the coming black and yellow government will look like. I will state comments of myself at the end of this post but there are overviews and comments for example also at SPON (German), Stern online (German) with a page for each politician or in the Blogossphere (German).

Chancellor: Angela Merkel
Chief of chancellorship: Ronald Pofalla
Finance: Wolfgang Schäuble
Work and Social: Franz Josef Jung
Interior: Thomas de Maiziere
Family: Ursula von der Leyen
Education and Science: Annette Schavan
Environment: Nörbert Röttgen

Defence: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
Traffic and Construction: Peter Ramsauer
Agriculture and Consumers: Ilse Aigner

Foreign Affairs: Guido Westerwelle
Vice chancellor: Guido Westerwelle
Economy: Rainer Brüderle
Justice: Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
Health: Philipp Rösler
Development aid: Dirk Niebel

Overall view

What’s always embarrassing in such negotiations are the criterea of such allocations. It seems they are following the principle that everybody somehow would be able to do anything. So the right party membership book, the origin from the right federal state and to some degree the right sex seems to be more important than expertise.
Skilled politicians of other parties could not even expect to gain a post and each sex, federal state and each governing party wants to find itself adequately represented in the new government. But beside of that each politician seems to be fit enough to lead a ministery of any responsibility: The Minister of Defence could also lead Work and Social, the former Minister of Interior now leads Finance aso..
It is a pity that the voter can not influence such political poker games after the with his vote and has to accept that the distribution of post is done more by party reason than by public weal.

In fact explicit expertise of a minister can not do harm. But the detail work is not done by the ministers themselves but by the employees and experts of their staffs. So the minister first of all is just a figurehead who needs to be able to sell made decisions creditable to the inside and the outside. (Former) ministers like Riesenhuber or Schawan are said to have a certain amount of expertise but they were hardly able to set a course in their work and to increase the image of their ministry. In the end it are the personalities of ministers which are important and those are powered more by political expertise than by specialist knowledge. Considering this, politicians might change their positions like in a game of chess.

Nevertheless you should not forget that such personalities will with their minister post have a huge impact on the politics and decisions of their ressorts. Some ministers of the former government like e.g. Wolfgang Schäuble or Ursula von der Leyen left deep footprints in their area and massively influenced the personal living conditions of the people. The same would match for those ministers who in my point of view were not able to fulfil their jobs properly as some of them also left their deep footsteps simply by their incompetence.

Individual results

“It is just like I have expected” is a thing which is hard to say about this new shadow cabinet. So now I want to state my opinion by commenting the allocation and the designated persons:

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU)
This decision of course was clear. Angela Merkel was an unagitated chancellor and set some marks in Foreign Affairs. On the other hand she neglected to a far degree to interfere in domestically questions. This would only have been her right but her job as the leader of the government. This is a thing she should change in future. All in all I would say at the moment there is only little left from the political goals and the idealism with which she has started her first government.

Chief of chancellorship Ronald Pofalla (CDU)
With Ronald Pofalla the chancellor picked a battle tested soldier of the party as her right hand.

Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU)
It was not long ago that Wolfgang Schäuble was traded as a candidate for a post in Bruxelles. Now he even climbed the ladder in the ministerial hierachy. I still consider his opinions in interior and security matters as very dangerous. So this change is a win alone by his leaving the Ministry of Interior. Maybe now at least the “Governmental Trojan” and other measures of surveillance will be used not only against suspected terrorist but against tax dodgers as well.

The will and his resistance against critic which he proved within the last years might serve him to do a good job as Minister of Finance who would more than his antecessor not only state strong words but have them also followed by deeds. Maybe he is able to stick to unpopular measures which might be needed for the consolidation of the state finances. This might be supported by the fact that in his probably last mandate (he is 67 years) he is not under the pressure to get re-elected anymore. In worst case such immunity may come out to be a drawback for the country if by the same reasons the Minister of Finance will acknowledge all expenditure and tax plans of the new government without hesitation.

Minister of Work and Social Franz Josef Jung (CDU)
I think that is an affront against the people, especially against the economically weak people. To make a politician a minister at all, who in my point of view beside of panaching under constitutional law (German) and accepting delay in the delivery of military goods for the Bundeswehr left no impressions, is remarkable. In the field of Work and Social his vocation indicates that the immense problems in our social system and the affected social classes are not the focus of the new coalition.

Minister of Interior Thomas de Maiziere (CDU)
I only heard very little of the work of Thomas de Maizere, which in his former job as Chief of chancellorship is possibly a good sign. He will have to prove if that would be enough for a Minister of Interior.

Minister of Family Ursula von der Leyen (CDU)
Her biggest and most inexcusable mistake Ursula von der Leyen made, when she left her field of themes and started a debate on Internet blockades. On the other hand that should not make totally forget that within her ressort she not only fulfilled but even overperformed her tasks. By this she managed to provide the often assumed being “boring” Ministery of Family shine and influence. Her personal behaviour in my oponion was often bossy and arrogant but as even Jürgen Trittin did manage to drop this behaviour there is still some hope. Her (private) successes, which she at least would deny, might arouse envy but that is a problem of the enviers and not of the minister.

Minister for Education and Science Annette Schavan (CDU)
Despite of her said expertise I think she got too little thing moved in this still thought to be lower-ranking ministery.

Minister of Environment Nörbert Röttgen (CDU)
Just mentioned for the sake of completeness. I have not enough information on him to estimate whether he would make a good Minister of Environment.

Minister of Defence Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU)
In his short time as Minister of Economy Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg showed that he can be an active and also even uncomfortable Minister. This might be a challenge for his coalition but in dubio it is an advantage for the people.
In fact the new Minister made such a personable and competent impression that it almost is a pity to find him at this lower-ranking ministery. On the other hand this area seems to fit even more to his knowledge than the economics and the Bundeswehr is a long time neglected working field. Maybe the new minister at last is the one who can mend it?

Minister for Traffic and Construction Peter Ramsauer (CSU)
I hoped to find Edmund Stoiber here who is an expert for terms and regulations. These are the skills which are needed to realize all needed changes in a juridical correct way. Maybe Peter Ramsauer has the same skills? The problems are clear and known and solving them is just a matter of diligence.

Minister for Agriculture and consumers Ilse Aigner (CSU)
Also for the sake of completeness. I have not observed the work of Mrs. Aigner.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle (FDP)
For about a decade this post was the declared goal of Westerwelle and now finally he reached it. With the noise pulp “18+” politic of his former years Guido Westerwelle managed to get things moved for his party and so is one reason for its success in this election. At the same time he more and more changed to become a more serious statesman. His speeches and interviews often were pointed and straight but on the slippery floor of foreign politics he will have to learn to use more decent words in future. His possible success and basically the amount of influence the chancellor will grant him will show in the future.

Minister for Economy Rainer Brüderle (FDP)
With the Ministry for Economy the FDP got the “weaker” of the two economic resorts. Maybe that will match with the economic ambitions the FDP lately has shown.

Minister of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP)
Mrs. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger belongs to the libaral wing of the FDP, which covers civil rights and freedom. From this point it is lamentable that with her the FDP “only” names the Minister of Justice and not the Minister of Interior.

Minister of Health Philipp Rösler (FDP)
To put such a young and upcoming man to the head of the ministry of health which has a very large etat is a risk on the first look. But when looking at the positive work sample of his nearly likely young counterpart zu Guttenberg and when then looking at the failures of his predecessor there is some hope that things will improve.

Minister for Development aid Dirk Niebel (FDP)
Development aid never was the ministery of shine and glory. I don’t know exactly what this ministery was created for but it is very useful to grant the FDP her nominal fifth minester post.