Entirely unrelated – the desk-cleaning action did take longer than expected, so I won’t be able to comment in lenght on this weekend’s exciting developments in German politics. The proposed accelrated tax break is quite remarkable in itself, as is the CDU’s refusal to do some serious subsidy removal business. Sure, the government will primarily target the oppposition’s target groups when proposing cuts – but why wouldn’t the CDU use this as a starting point to talk about cutting SPD-treasured subsidies as well, so that a substancial cut in subsidies would be the all-party compromise, instead of blocking change at all? This is clearly not going to help them electorally, but they may need some more time to figure this out.
When I was in Prague two weeks ago, I had un coup de rouge in a rather hidden little garden restaurant close to the Charles bridge where – at the table behind me – a group of German trade unionists was having a ball – drinking Moravian red and smoking cigars while discussing how to handle the strike and the press. At some point, one of the men at the table laughingly told the group that BMW had allegedly complained to the chancellor about the economic sideeffects of IG Metall’s strike…
When I shyly turned my head to look at the table behind me, I am almost certain I saw the profile of Juegen Peters, chairman to be of IG Metall, and now held responsible for the disaster by most commentators, laughing and zipping on his cigar – a scene slightlyreminiscent of those caricatures of cigar smoking capitalists.
Pulling off an unreasonable strike in the worst possible economic climate was probably intended to boost his – already agreed on – election as chairman in November this year. I suppose he wanted to demonstrate that the union does still have the power to go all the way.
Well, it looks like he might have smoked that cigar a little too early, like he was a little too cocky. But let’s face it – his mistake does have positive side effects – now everybody has understood that this time, change is for real – that is, maybe apart from the CDU. But they will get there eventually.