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November 17, 2006
Did Schroeder Attempt A 'Coup' Against Merkel?

The German magazine Stern, covered in Der Speigel, reports that former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder attempted a "palace coup" against Angela Merkel when her party won a narrow victory in the last German elections. The former German head of state, now working for Russia's Gazprom, tried to finagle a betrayal by Merkel's own party in order to allow him to return as Chancellor:

Schröder is claimed to have approached the chairman of Bavaria's Christian Social Union, Edmund Stoiber, with a clandestine proposal to oust would-be chancellor Merkel, the head of the CSU's larger sister party, the Christian Democratic Union. The weekly news magazine Stern reported on Thursday that Schröder approached Stoiber at a televised debate between Germany's party leaders on the eve of the election, saying only that they "needed to talk." Shortly afterwards, Stoiber received a phone call from a middleman who apparently was not involved in politics. Citing anonymous sources in Stoiber's inner circle, Stern claims Stoiber then received Schröder's emissary in Munich three days later, on September 21.

The mysterious emissary made what Stoiber is said to have described as an "indecent proposal." He wanted nothing less than a coup d'état against chancellor-elect Angela Merkel. Stoiber would enter Schröder's coalition cabinet as "the [Christian] Union's top man," and the CDU/CSU would overthrow Merkel and elect a new party leader.

Sources close to Stoiber say he refused the offer, according to reports in Stern and the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. Although the CSU has so far refused to comment on the affair, both Stern and the Süddeutsche claim to have spoken to party officials who said Stoiber affirmed Merkel as the Union's candidate.

Schroeder has denied the allegations, and he had some unflattering words for Stoiber in his recent memoirs. He also doesn't mention this particular effort in the book. However, at least two other German newspapers are reporting the same or similar stories through different sources, which makes it sound pretty credible.

The former Chancellor has given Germans enough embarrassment by becoming Vladimir Putin's mouthpiece on energy in Europe. Now it looks as though he tried undermining German polity, arrogantly disregarding the will of the voters who sent him packing. That decision by Germans looks better and better as time passes, both here and in Europe.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 17, 2006 4:59 AM

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