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Lies, damn lies, and programmes for government February 14, 2018

Posted by Citizen of Nowhere in Uncategorized.

The details of the programme for government agreed between the CDU/CSU and the SPD in Germany are too depressing and trivial to go into. Essentially it’s more of the same, with the SPD getting more ministerial posts. This is the result – reportedly – of the SPD negotiating hard for bums in ministerial Mercedes at the expense of any content in the agreement going their way.

More interesting is the manner in which the Union parties have played the soi-disant Social Democrats like a violin; cultivating the SPD’s space for self-deception while retaining policy control for themselves and the lobby interests that they serve.

One pattern in the coalition agreement is familiar to Irish audiences – the promise of setting up a working group to investigate and prevaricate on any change that may be significant. You can be pretty sure the constitution and conclusion of such a group will last the term of the German parliament.

Which is related to a second pattern – laughably common in the coalition agreement – the projection of deadlines for action into the term of the next but one government. If the Groko comes about, it will be out of office in 2021 and all the promises to do something by 2025 (which litter the agreement) are for the birds of the uncertain future.

Equally admirable, from a Machiavellian standpoint, is the way in which mild concessions in the field of rent control, short term working contracts, digital infrastructure for the masses etc. come with carefully crafted loopholes (designed in collaboration with lobbyists) which effectively ameliorate any potential damage done to employer, monopoly, cartel and rentier profit-taking.

Apart from that all the real changes that extend beyond the usual facilitation of capital accummulation benefit the older generation and the upper middle class. Sound’s familiar?

I suspect that sufficient ground for self-deception exists in this agreement for the SPD membership to vote it through at the beginning of March. That and the bung of ministerial posts for the SPD. As so often with Merkel’s CDU – tactically finely judged.

That Frau Doktor Merkel felt able to give the SPD the finance ministry, is indicative of two things. Firstly, she feels confident the SPD ministers can will self-discipline and toe the line so as to be indistinguishable from CDU/CSU incumbents.

And the giving of the finance ministry to the SPD was, in her usual indirect manner, a way of drawing a line under the era of Schaubleism in Eurozone politics. The explicit, rhetorically-charged imposition of killing austerity from the centre of the Eurozone on the ‘periphery’ is out of fashion, for the time being. Whatever happens behind the scenes. This recognition of the need to ‘do something’ about the centripital forces within the Eurozone is shared by the SPD, and looms large in the rationale of the agreement.

Whether that something will amount to anything is and entirely different matter.


1. CL - February 14, 2018

‘The finance ministry will go to Olaf Scholz, SPD mayor of Hamburg, a fiscally conservative supply-sider…

The SPD referendum takes place from February 20 until March 2. Opponents of the grand coalition, led by Mr Kühnert, recruited 24,300 new members this year, most of whom are expected to vote against. New members make up about 5 per cent of the total and could tilt the vote.’-Munchau.


2. WorldbyStorm - February 15, 2018

Very helpful analysis, been wondering about the ins and outs of the whole thing.


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