Leadership Crisis Brewing
German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced in February that he was stepping down as chairman of the Social Democratic Party (sdp) in March—giving the post to Franz Müntefering, the sdp parliament group leader. This is an “unprecedented” move for a German chancellor, according to London’s Financial Times.
Schröder reportedly handed over his post because of a desire to concentrate more heavily on his reform policies. He said he was confident in the maneuver, stating, “I don’t fear there will be any loss of authority” (Guardian, London, February 7).
However, German political observers think just the opposite. Speculation has already ensued that his chancellorship is “in grave doubt” and that he will be asked to step down before the next election, in 2006 (ibid.). His approval ratings have dropped to a mere 25 percent in recent weeks.
Angela Merkel, party opposition leader of the Christian Democrats, said, “This is the beginning of the end of the chancellor, and the beginning of the end of his government. It is a black day for Germany” (ibid.). Schröder’s decision to step down is only adding fuel to the fire of failing economic policies and a government increasingly in disarray.
Where will Germany look for help? While Schröder’s government and economic policies are in shambles, Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber’s star continues to rise as he leads the most table and progressive state economy in Germany. For seven years, this magazine has pointed to Stoiber as a prime candidate for the chancellor’s job (Trumpet, June 1996). As Schröder loses power, watch Germany ripen for revolutionary leadership to take over.