PERSON OF THE WEEK - Sep. 18-24, 2005
The circus that was the German parliamentary election was certainly among the biggest news stories this week, and it certainly provided a number of interesting personalities for "Person of the Week" consideration. I had been looking forward to giving this week's award to Christian Democrat Union/Christian Social Union leader Angela Merkel for becoming the first woman to become Chancellor. However, I could not do that in good conscience due to the CDU's poor performance on election day, losing 22 seats even though it became the largest parliamentary faction. I then thought that it might be appropriate to give the award to Gerhard Schroeder for staging a most improbable comeback, but that would be most inappropriate considering that he still lost the election to Merkel and the CDU/CSU. So, I settled on this man.
Oskar Lafontaine had been a prominent member of Schroeder's Social Democratic Party (SPD) for many years, running as the party's candidate for Chancellor in 1990 (he lost) and briefly serving as Schroeder's Minister of Finance from 1998-1999. In 1999, he resigned from all official and party positions that he had held due to "lack of cooperation" and became a rather fierce critic of Schroeder's government, although he remained a high-profile member of the SPD.
In May of 2004, Lafontaine dropped a bombshell on the German political situation by leaving the SPD for the newly formed Linkspartei (Left Party), and alliance of the remnant of the East German communist party and the West German Labor and Social Justice Party. The Linkspartei had only two legislators in the previous session of the Bundestag (parliament); but it gained an amazing amount of support with the addition of a high powered candidate like Lafontaine, who had now been placed at the top of the Linkspartei ticket. With Lafontaine at the helm, The Linkspartei went on to win an astounding 52 seats in the Bundestag in Sunday's election.
With the rest of the Bundestag almost evenly divided between Merkel's CDU/CSU-Free Democratic Party coalition and Schroeder's SPD-Green Party coalition, the Linkspartei now holds the balance of power between the two. Both Schroeder and Merkel have vowed not to work with the Linkspartei, meaning that the two archrivials will now have to form a "grand coalition" together to govern Germany. Negotiations to form such a coalition could take weeks, as both Schroeder and Merkel claim the office of Chancellor, and a new election will have to be called if an agreement cannot be reached.
Say what you will about Merkel and Schroeder, but the mess that has been made of the German Bundestag is really the responsibility of the Linkspartei. So, for leading the party that turned the Bundestag into a three-ring circus, the Linkspartei's Oskar Lafontaine is ConservaGlobe's Person of the Week.
Honorable/Dishonorable Mentions: Angela Merkel, Gerhard Schroeder, Don Brash, Hurricane Rita, Shaul Mofaz
Technorati Tags: Bundestag, Germany, German Elections, Person of the Week, Lafontaine, Oskar Lafontaine, News, Politics, Current Affairs, Current Events, current-events, Elections