On Sunday the biggest of the German states, North Rhine-Westphalia – the traditionally strongest of Social Democratic states in the country – goes to elect a new state government. And Peer Steinbrück, the Social Democratic premier, looks poised to loose the state, which would mean the first Christian Democratic government in North Rhine-Westphalia for some forty years.
If this happens it’ll be another setback for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and many believe that such a result will force him towards the left and away from his much needed reform plans. This would be a pity. While I don’t expect that Mr Steinbrück will be able to do anything about the failing economy and huge unemployment in his state – for that he is too much of an interventionist – for these reasons I still think it would be better if he where to retain his seat. The CDU candidate, Jürgen Rüttgers, does not seem all that much better – nor does his party look much better on the federal arena, and largely for the same reasons. Mr Schröder’s reforms goes not too far – in fact even with all of them implemented there would still be a lot to do. And there’s no deregulation, market friendly party to do that, as far as I can see. That is very unfortunate for a strong German economy is vital to European growth – a Germany looking dreamily to past days of economic success is not.