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German federal elections 2013 – Can Peer Steinbrück beat Merkel?

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On October 1st the former German finance minister Peer Steinbrück was nominated as candidate of the social democrats for the upcoming Federal elections next fall. Is he a viable alternative to the popular Chancellor Angela Merkel? Are he and his party capable of winning a relative majority in next year’s election?
Source: flickr

Merkel – reformer and crisis manager

Adrian Sonder | 2013. January 26. 20:09

Angela Merkel has mastered all crises and led the Federal Republic of Germany since she was first elected Chancellor in 2005. In next fall’s elections the head of the Christian Democratic Party will face her own former finance minister and social democrat Peer Steinbrück who promises a major shift in politics. Despite Steinbrück’s promises, the Chancellor’s reliable and future oriented policies are the best choice for Germany. She has proven to find a balance between accepted and established traditions and innovation – and this is the right way to lead Germany and Europe in the future.

The euro-zone faces a severe social, economic and fiscal crisis and only the strong German economy keeps the currency union together. In the last few years Chancellor Merkel has paved the way for the future and became a globally recognized symbol of political and economic stability.

*A short snapshot of politics

Without doubt her credibility is her greatest strength. She conveys trust, faith and moreover her integrity is highly valued by German citizens. Peer Steinbrück will have a hard time challenging her image. The social democrat convinces through his passion and combative nature though his attempts are more populist than expedient. He manages to mobilize non-voters and moreover he appeals to voters of the centre.

*But still...

Steinbrück will not beat the Chancellor. She is well prepared for a long and tough electoral campaign and does not fear direct confrontations.

A very strong argument for her third re-election is that she has moved her party to the very centre, which inaugurates the number of potential voters. She has established a pragmatic way of governing that is not restricted by any ideology. This is what allows her the flexibility to re-think and alter attitudes without losing credibility.

Another advantage of Merkel is that she can rely on her party. There is no competition in her own party and therefore the Christlich Demokratischen Union, Christian Democratic Party (CDU) is solely focusing on her. Peer Steinbrück will probably have some problems uniting the right and the left wing of the party behind his back.

Ultimately Steinbrück will not defeat Merkel because voters can hardly see a difference between the two and they will most likely rely on the trustworthy Chancellor. Many remember that the two have worked together from 2005-2009 as Chancellor and finance minister respectively in a great coalition leading Germany out of the crisis. Her ability to adapt to new situations and her incorruptible image are her major advantages over the opposition.

Steinbrück’s attempts to challenge the Chancellor through e.g. his ideas of bank control have not been fruitful. Experts doubt the effectiveness and real impact of his platform as it only scratches the surface but does not offer long-term solutions.

This is why on election day many voters will feel that there is no feasible alternative to the Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 

"For competence" means "for Steinbrück"

Sebastian Meinhof | 2013. January 26. 20:09

The movement for social injustice in Germany and the management of the euro-crisis in a pro-European way will dominate German politics for the next years. The social democrats and Peer Steinbrück have already realized this and offer more effective solutions than Angela Merkel and her party. Peer Steinbrück is the right candidate for Chancellor as he is competent and progressive.

Germany’s Federal elections will take place next fall to elect a new Bundestag (national Parliament) and a new government including the position of Chancellor. The 18th legislatorial period elections will be shaped by two central issues: Social justice with redistribution of wealth and the euro-crisis. Therefore it is crucial to pose the question of which government is better equipped to handle these problems.

*What kind of Chancellor does Germany need?

The central question is: what criteria for Chancellor do the people call for? The blueprint of the debate in the upcoming months will serve as a model for the next legislatorial term. A Germany with political apathy where the government is stuck in tit-for-tat movements with its own coalition partner with a conservative politics determined by lifelong politicians is the opposite of what Germany needs. These are the repercussions of continuing the current style of governance.

Or should Germany eventually start desperately needed social, economic and fiscal reforms just like the Sozialdemokratische Partei, Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) did under Gerhard Schröder, who linked the German identity to world-renowned innovation and productivity? If Steinbrück’s positions can be compared to another famous German politician, it is certainly the former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

*Steinbrück’s strength is his foresight…

But what are the advantages of a Chancellor whose expertise is economics? Steinbrück is the personification of the experienced political civil servant who has earned himself an excellent reputation as a fiscal and economic expert throughout his work both on the regional and national level.

During the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008 he worked as finance minister under Merkel’s conservative government and he could soon be seen again in his old job but this time with the high authority of Federal Chancellor of Germany.

He recently developed, in cooperation with experts, a plan to control banks, which was widely accepted as efficient and useful. In a nutshell Steinbrück is the expert of whom Germany and Europe are in desperate need.

Contrasting this expertise, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance and economic ministers Wolfgang Schäuble (the Christlich Demokratischen Union, Christian Democratic Party) and Philipp Rösler (Freie Demokratische Partei, Free Democratic Party) are and slow to react, and they offered no solution to the sovereign debt crisis, which exacerbated the Euro debt crisis.

However, the SPD and its candidate will be backed by their reliable coalition partner: Die Grünen (The Green Party). Having changed dramatically since their foundation, The Green Party is now very pragmatic and focused on practical solutions. Their successful approaches to such perennial problems as environment, sustainability and social reforms were implemented by Angela Merkel in order to gain public support, though these plans were ultimately unsuccessful.

*The weaknesses of Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel’s style of politics throughout the last few years will cost her the victory in the upcoming election. There is no uniting ideology to define her policies. On top of that she always unsuccessfully attempts to keep up with the social development of German society. Moreover, she has virtually eliminated competition (Clement, Koch, Wulff) in her party, making her the only recognised face. This creates a phenomenon of having unknown national ministers. These types of strong politicians are needed to represent the party to the public. In contrast, the SPD has a three-pronged leadership, which represents unity and strengthens regional party branches.

Angela Merkel alone embodies her party and it has become fairly obvious that the party has lost all its brilliance and brightness. Before the nomination of Steinbrück, 30 % of Germans were for the opposition but this rose within two weeks to.

Angela Merkel’s image has begun to shake and it remains to be seen how her image will fare. There is however no doubt: Steinbrück is the better and more competent politician. What will make all the difference in the campaign is Steinbrück’s campaigning strategy and ability, which remains as of now unknown.

 

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

The state of votes

60%
40%

Merkel – reformer and crisis manager

Adrian Sonder

"For competence" means "for Steinbrück"

Sebastian Meinhof

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