Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘German Christian Democrats’

Why David Cameron Should Be Dating Angela Merkel

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 23rd August, 2009

Angela MerkelAccording to Forbes Magazine, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has risen significantly up the charts of the most powerful women in the world. Actually, one doesn’t really need an American publication to tell us that: here in Europe it is bleeding obvious. At least, one would have thought so. But apparently that is not the case for the UK Conservative leader, David Cameron, who recently cold-shouldered Frau Merkel and her Christian Democrat party by getting into bed with some pretty distasteful Eastern European fringe politicians in the European Parliament. He may well live to regret this move, as like Mrs Thatcher when she was in office, Angela Merkel keeps a close eye on who is ‘one of us’ and who is not. Moreover, despite being dismissed as a frowsty East German technocrat when she first entered post-reunification German politics, Frau Merkel can be steely when she wants. She certainly knew when to stick the knife into her former leader Helmut Kohl when the time was ripe.

David Cameron 4David Cameron’s crass misjudgement of where his party’s best interests lie, in terms of European alignments, could unfortunately have serious repercussions for Britain. Angela Merkel is no longer just the apparent ‘token woman’ in photo line-ups of EU or G8 leaders. She positively oozes authority and competence, in contrast to counterparts such as the superannuated Italian Lothario Silvio Berlusconi or the flash Frenchman Nicolas Sarkozy. Those two men do nonetheless have the nous to keep close to her politically, as any sensible British Conservative leader should have done. If the Irish approve the Lisbon Treaty in their second referendum this autumn, as seems highly likely, it will be Frau Merkel who will be seen to be then pushing the European project forward, even if technically the Swedes are occupying the presidential seat.

If David Cameron becomes Prime Minister next year (and increasingly I believe it is ‘if’, not ‘when’), far from automatically being one of the Big Four political beasts at the heart of Europe, he will look very much out on a limb — which reflects current Tory policy towards the EU, of course. This is bound to weaken Britain’s role in European decision-making. Cameron will also stand out for his blatant inexperience, which has already been made painfully obvious, by his politically snubbing Anglea Merkel instead of dating her.

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Germany, Multiculturalism and the Liberals

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 8th July, 2009

Georg BoomgaardenThe German Liberals (FDP) are highly likely to form part of the next German government, according to the German Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. Speaking at an Association of European Journalists (AEJ) lunch at the London offices of the European Parliament, H.E. Georg Boomgaarden said that although it is always possible that the ‘grand coalition’ of Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SDP) might continue after September’s federal elections, a more likely scenario would be a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition government, or even the so-called Jamaica coalition that has been mooted: i.e. CDU/CSU, FDP and the Greens (whose party colours are black, yellow and green, like the Jamaican flag). The Liberals traditionally were the junior party in German coalitions but have been in opposition in recent years. But they did extremely well in last month’s European elections. Being a diplomat, however, Dr Boomgaarden cautioned that opinion polls are often volatile in the run-up to a Germa election, so anything is technically possible.

On another matter, in the light of the appalling recent murder of a pregnant Egyptian woman by a racist German attacker in a courtroom in Dresden — an assault in which her husband was also wounded — I asked which model of multiculturalism Germany had adopted, if any. The Ambassador replied that Germany had lied to itself about what used to be referred to as Turkish guest workers (gastarbeiter), assuming that once they had finished their working lives they would return home, whereas many of them did not. The main problem for integration, he said, is related to the fact that most of the Turkish immigrants came from eastern Anatolia — many of them Kurds — and they have a more traditional and Asian lifestyle. This is exacerbated by the fact that Turks immigrants even of the second and third generation tend to marry girls from their home country, who then find themselves in an alien environment in Germany. However, an Islamic Conference has been functioning in Germany for some time and recently it brought out a paper stressing that Muslims should stand by the German constitution, while at the same time freedom of religion must be repected.


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