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October 4, 2005
Schroeder Fading From Office -- Slowly

In what may soon be known as The Long Good-Bye, Gerhard Schroeder finally and publicly acknowledged that his reign as Chancellor has all but ended, after backroom manueverings have failed to vault him over Angela Merkel. The CDU/CSU leader who took the conservative union to a disappointing plurality will shortly become the first female German chancellor, barring a last-minute reprieve by political parties hardly fond of Schroeder:

In the latest twist in the post-election political tap dance, Chancellor Gerhard Schrder told his Social Democrat party he would not stand in the way of it forming a government, even if it meant he would not be leading his country. His comments, which appeared to pave the way for his resignation, represented a U-turn after his assertion on election night two weeks ago that only he could lead a stable government. ...

Mr Schrder yesterday placed his political future in the hands of SDP party members negotiating a grand coalition with Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats.

"It is not about me," said Mr Schrder. "It is about the leadership position of the SPD. I do not want to stand in the way of the continuation of the reform process I have started or the creation of a stable government.''

Some have floated a compromise that would have Schroeder continue as Chancellor for two years, followed by two years of Merkel. If someone wanted to gin up certain gridlock and failure, they could hardly design worse. Two years gives little time for any serious reform, only patchwork pandering that would take Merkel's two years to undo. The arrangement guarantees two two-year terms of lame ducks and dooms the Germans to the status quo until the next election. It looks remarkably like the arrangement Gerald Ford tried pushing onto Ronald Reagan when he offered Ford the VP slot in 1980 before giving it to George HW Bush.

The SPD wants to believe it still has a majority, but must eventually come to terms with its minority, second-place finish. That no-confidence motion from the German voters meant something significant -- they want a change at the top. The sooner the SPD understands that and quits trying to manipulate Rube Goldberg solutions to desperately hang onto the reigns of power, the sooner they can start working to restore voter confidence in their leadership. Schroeder quit listening to the voters and suffered the consequences, and now the SPD wants to try the hair of the dog that bit them as a hangover remedy.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 4, 2005 6:31 AM

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