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October 12, 2005
And The Applause Meant ... ?

Gerhard Schroeder told a union audience today that he would not take part in the new "grand coalition" government formed by Angela Merkel, apparently declining any ministerial position whatsoever just days after insisting that Germany could not form a government without him. After the negotiations form the new executive, Schroeder apparently will return to a private life:

Schroeder's Social Democrats lost last month's parliamentary elections to conservative Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, and Merkel struck a power-sharing deal Monday to become Germany's first female chancellor.

"I will not belong to the next government, definitely not," Schroeder said to loud applause. ...

Schroeder hinted Tuesday evening he did not want to take a Cabinet post in the new government. Eight posts in Merkel's government will go to Schroeder's party.

It sounds as if Schroeder has decided to take his ball and go home, rather than serve in a ministerial post to smooth the transition for his SPD party, which now finds itself in the minority. That seems par for the course for the now-former Chancellor whose egotistical pronouncements belied the fact that he had lost the election and his party their steady plurality, having eroded it over a period of years in which he antagonized his American allies and dithered over German economic decline.

A question: Did the "loud applause" signify respect for Schroeder, or delight at his retirement?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 12, 2005 6:56 AM

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