Post Number: 2126
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Monday, October 10, 2005 - 07:43 am: ||
Is Hilary Clinton Next?
GERMANY'S FIRST WOMAN CHANCELLOR
BERLIN, Germany (Reuters) -- It was not as easy as she hoped, but Angela Merkel, a shy pastor's daughter from the ex-communist east, has finally crowned her unlikely rise to the top of German politics and will become the country's first woman chancellor.
A month ago, Merkel and her Christian Democrats (CDU) were riding high in the polls and widely expected to trounce Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) in what was billed as a landmark election that would set Germany on a new course of reform.
But a disappointingly narrow victory for Merkel's party following a widely criticized campaign doomed her ambitious economic plans and forced her to fight a defiant Schroeder for the top spot -- a battle she finally won on Monday, according to senior members of the CDU and SPD.
Holding together fighting factions while pushing through the reforms economists say Germany desperately needs will be a formidable challenge -- one made all the more difficult by her shaky campaign and the SPD's success in securing the key Finance Ministry in the government she will lead.
"If she is to become chancellor, it is not sufficient to defeat (Schroeder). She must also win over the people," the German weekly Die Zeit said last week.
Sixteen years ago when the Berlin Wall fell and Merkel, 51, began her meteoric rise in the CDU of then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl, few would have predicted the awkward, unassuming former scientist would make it this far.
But a clever analytical mind, a knack for being in the right place at the right time and a cold readiness to sideline rivals vaulted her to the top of her male-dominated party and put her in position to become Germany's eighth postwar leader.
A bookworm who guards her privacy fiercely and has only recently begun looking comfortable in the media spotlight, Merkel was born in the western port city of Hamburg on July 17, 1954, but moved with her family to East Germany when just a baby.
As the daughter of a Protestant pastor in a communist state where organized religion was viewed with suspicion, Merkel was told early on by her parents to keep a low profile and always be above reproach.
"Everything was always a battle -- a battle not to attract attention, a battle to be just a little better than all the others," Merkel said of her childhood.
These experiences seem to have molded Merkel, who is married to a Berlin chemistry professor and has no children, into a hard-nosed -- some say ruthless -- politician.
She will need all of that toughness as she grabs the reins of a potentially explosive "grand coalition" government in which her conservatives will have to share power with Schroeder's SPD. The SPD and a long list of rivals from her own party will be keen to see her fail.
Helmut Kohl plucked Merkel from obscurity after German reunification in 1990, making her a cabinet member and famously whisking her off on a U.S. tour where the wide-eyed "Angie", still sporting Spartan eastern German dresses, was photographed eagerly riding cable cars in San Francisco.
But when her political mentor was floundering in the midst of a funding scandal in December 1999, she pounced, penning a guest column in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper urging the CDU to move on "without its old battle horses".
The article sent shock waves through the German political establishment, sidelining Kohl and his heir apparent Wolfgang Schaeuble, and ultimately propelling her to the top of the CDU.
When Schroeder shocked the country in May with a call for elections to be brought forward by a year, Merkel was in the perfect position and a divided CDU rallied around her candidacy.
She promised during the campaign to shake up Germany's welfare state, strip down its bureaucracy and repair relations with Washington, strained by Schroeder's vocal opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
But much of her economic program is expected to be diluted during coalition negotiations with the SPD, making her task as chancellor doubly daunting.
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Post Number: 1522
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2005 - 04:31 pm: ||
I understand she is going to make a deal wherein her rivals will get 8 cabinet seats and her own party 6--making her a powerless lame duck.
That is probably how they will let Hillary in. She will do the rest of the job on the poor and the middle class her worthless cowardly husband did not to mention rolling back the clock on blacks, gays and her own femnist supporters.
She is going to have to make so many deals and promises we will wish Bush was back.