Sunday, July 1, 2018

Götterdämmerung

Soccer, politics, and economy. Once upon a time, there was a strong country
(©Der Spiegel upside down Nr. 27, 2018)
Germany is badly shaken in its self-confidence. Two of our Lichtgestalten (guiding lights) are experiencing their twilight of the gods: Chancellor Angela Merkel and National Soccer Coach Jogi (Joachim) Löw.

Two buddies. Angi and Jogi saw better days (©Getty Images)
It is the first time in German soccer history that the team dropped out of a World Championship tournament in the preliminary round. The fall is abysmally deep regarding the fact that Germany is the defending champion, a title it had gained four years ago.

Germany’s rankings in previous Soccer World Championships (©Der Spiegel)
Gary Linecker, a former English soccer star who once said, "Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win" updated his statement, "... the Germans no longer win. The previous version is confined to history."

Following the defeat against South Korea, a shattered coach Jogi Löw made his first statement, “It's a huge disappointment. We have to see to it that we accept this debacle. Congratulations to our opponents who defeated us, we did not deserve to move forward. We didn’t manage to score a goal, to take a lead throughout the whole tournament. The team lacked the lightness, the flow in its combinations, we were not self-assured. We didn't play with any dynamic on the field. The plan was definitely there. What happened here I can't say at this moment. I surely take the responsibility. The German soccer, we all lost. Not just a game, but much of what we have built up over the past few years. Of course, I'm the first person who has to question himself and has to think about what went wrong. Now I have to sleep at least one night, just after the game I am totally frustrated and disappointed. I am in charge. It's too early for me to answer the question, now we need a few hours to see clearly. I too am deeply disappointed. I wouldn't have imagined that."

Defeated and half-naked; midfielder Mats Hummels,
“It’s quite a bitter day for all German soccer fans.” (©dpa)
Those bitterly disappointed fans on Berlin’s “fan mile” (©dpa)
On the political front Christian Democrat Chancellor Angela Merkel - once being hailed as the leader of western democracy following the election of POTUS - is fighting for her political survival. Her generous attitude towards the wave of refugees coming into Germany in 2015 is catching up with her. Not the opposition but of all parties CDU’s Bavarian sister the Christian Socials (CSU) are demanding a tightening of Germany’s refugee policy. The CSU is afraid of not getting the absolute majority in Bavaria’s upcoming state election in October and is moving to the right.

Although the chancellor strives for a European solution to the refugee crisis the CSU sent Merkel an ultimatum. If the European deal in Brussels does not satisfy Horst Seehofer, Angela’s Minister of the Interior threatens to harden the Bavarian borders against immigrants, an act that will not only affect our Austrian neighbors in the south. If Horst follows through his plan Angela has no other choice than firing her CSU Minister. This will be her Waterloo and the end of the ruling grand coalition.

To a great extent, the present political crisis in Germany is Merkel’s own fault. Over the past 12 years, Angela has inched her conservative Christian Democrats more and more to the left starting with Germany’s nuclear phase-out and continuing with the decriminalization of gay people, same-sex marriages, and a time-phase solution for abortion. These moves to the left downsized the center-left Social Democrats while they in parallel strengthened the right-wing anti-immigration party AfD (Alternative for Germany) to the dislike of the conservative Bavarian CSU.

The cleanest solution to the present governmental crisis would be to hold new federal elections but the ruling parties avoid those like the plague. The present quarrels within the government camp will only weaken the Christian Democrats and in particular the Social Democrats but strengthen the populist Alternative for Germany tooting their Germany first.

After a marathon meeting the president of the European Council Donald (!) Tusk tweeted at 4:34 a.m. on Friday morning:


At the same time in Brussels red-eyed but visibly relieved and smiling Angela went before the press announcing her (?) European compromise: The control at EU’s external borders will be reinforced, i.e., people (mostly from Africa) on boats or rafts and seized on high see will be brought back and detained in refugee camps in North Africa.

Europe hates walls but erects fences.
A refugee at the border between Greece and Macedonia (©Getty Images)
Refugees apprehended at the border or inside the EU will be brought to screening centers within the European Community where their demands for political asylum will be examined. Only those granted asylum will be distributed among EU member states, the others will be transported back into their home countries. But Angela cautioned, “We still have a lot of work to do to bridge the different views,”

The salient question, however, is, “Will the Brussels compromise satisfy Host Seehofer and his CSU?”

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