Power balance

December 16, 2013 - 6:51:16 am

Merkel will have to reconcile opposing forces in the new cabinet that has members from the SPD.



Germany’s Angela Merkel has unveiled a coalition cabinet with a number of important Social Democrats occupying key positions. The pragmatic leader, fondly called Mommy Merkel by her supporters, is in her third term as Chancellor of the central European economic powerhouse. The Conservative leader is credited with steering the German economy through buffeting headwinds of the debt crisis, often encountering tough conditions from fellow European nations like Greece. The Christian Democratic Union leader has struck a clever compromise with her bete noire Sigmar Gabriel — leader of the Social Democrats — who is going to head a ‘super ministry’ in the Grand Coalition stitched up after weeks of haggling with parties. 

Germany stands as an oasis amid a bloc of nations that have failed to live upto expectations in shoring up their flagging economies. Gabriel is to take over as vice-chancellor and would lead efforts in keeping the nation away from nuclear power. 

Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be given charge of the Foreign Ministry. He he faces an uphill battle of bringing together disparate opinions in policy on the domestic and international fronts. This comes amid President Joachim Gauck announcing that he would not attend the Winter Olympics in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. 

Germany’s relatively stable ties with Russia have recently come under the scanner with Moscow tightening the screws on rights groups and media outlets. 

SPD deputy leader Aydan Ozoguz has been given charge of immigration, refugees and integration as state minister. The woman minister from Germany’s three-million strong Turkish community has the unenviable job of handling one of the most sensitive subjects in modern Germany — integration of the Turkish community. Turks enjoy decades-old ties with the nation and contribute significantly to the economy. However, Turkish migration to Germany has been a controversial one. The issue is entwined with Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union, which has virtually firewalled Ankara’s much-vaunted bid. The new immigration minister’s job comes at a time when the German establishment is worried about an ageing population that would not be adequately skilled to meet the demands of a growing nation. The uncanny aversion to kids has been lately growing in German society — giving rise to phenomenon like ‘adults only’ hotels. 

The decreasing headcount has forced Berlin to liberalise its immigration policy. Due to its junior coalition partner coalition pressures may see Merkel’s government pulling different ways. The physicist will probably deal with the countervailing pressures like those in the parallelogram of forces in which the resultant is determined by a balance between forces pulling in different directions•
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