THE POLITICAL PAGE

December 2005

The New Federal Government (1. Part)

1. Angela Merkel's first government declaration

Actually, nobody would have welcomed the option of a „Grand Coalition“ before the election took place; there weren't many people who would put it past Angela Merkel as the Federal Chancelloress to do this – not so much because of her being a woman but because of her as a person. The Grand Coalition was forcasted to be a ‘government of lazy compromises' which could only operate on the tiniest of common denominators, whereas the country needs large and more radical reforms.

In her first major address to the Parliament, Angela Merkel took these thoughts on, in her government declaration on 30th November. “Who would have thought that today a grand coalition would assemble to jointly lead our country into the future? Who would have thought that Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) would discover they had so much in common that they could present an in-depth programme for the next four years? (Short laughter) Who would have thought that my coalition partner would be led by a party chairman from Brandenburg? Who would have thought that a woman would be appointed to the highest government office this year, ladies and gentlemen?

Answer: nobody, virtually hardly anybody.

Then she continues: “All this has taken us by surprise, and some of it has even taken me by surprise, of course. Having said that, it is not the most surprising thing that has ever happened to me. There were many things I expected would happen, but I did not expect to be granted the gift of freedom before I reached retirement. All roads led to a Wall only a few yards from this place which looked as if it would divide our country forever. When you have already experienced one such pleasant surprise, you believe many things are possible. I intend to remain firm in that belief.“

Whoever hears and reads these words will feel that something bright, positive was said here, something which opened a new perspective.

She stroke a very personal note in her first government declaration, and disarmed the enemies who already were prepared to disapprove. Actually, nobody can disapprove of what she said, not even the PDS;

because here we heard a voice from the East speaking. On the one hand all East Germans feel understood and represented as if somebody was talking with their own words, and on the other hand she also reminds her fellow sufferers of how things really were in the past in East Germany; and thus she talks against oblivion and against all the ‘nostalgic gilding' of the past today.

Above all in her first and programmatic speech, the Chancelloress reminded us of the fall of the wall on 9th November 1989. Without really expressing it this way, she brought the successful manifastation of God in the history of our people, Europe and thus, of the whole world to mind. Regarding the future of our country and the Chancellor's work, for a Christian such as Angela Merkel is, to count on this means to bargain on God's supernatural intervention for today. When you have already experienced one such pleasant surprise, you believe many things are possible. I intend to remain firm in that belief.“ This is the secular translation of her much accentuated words at her adjuration. „So help me God!“ He will save us again today, just as he intervened and saved us in the past. I intend to remain firm in that belief.

Lord we pray for our Chancelloress to maintain her trust in Your intervention, and to let her see what she has believed and prayed for.

2. The Cabinet

Rarely can we see God's work so clearly in policy as we saw it at the establishment of the cabinet few weeks ago. Today, God still acts according to the same principles which date back 2000 years. „God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble“ (1. Peter 5vs5). „He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are pround in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down the rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” (Lk. 1, 51-52)

Gerhard Schröder was the first one to experience this when he proudly overstrained himself so much in the election evening that even he himself felt embarrassed finally. God deleted his name from the government list. He was God's tool in order to change the course of the country, finally. God gave him the Agenda 2010 and he took it and used it against his own party for the sake of the country. This was a mission from God. However, he overstrained himself and had to go.

The same with Joschka Fischer . He ‘´blew his own trumpet' so much, that even his own party thought his behaviour was unnatural; He disappeared in political obscurity after he had been brought down by his visa-affair.

However, God taught us a lesson, which started slowly without attracting any attention; and nobody would have even thought that, from God's point of view this was the beginning of the establishment of Merkel's cabinet.

The board of management of the SPD (the Social Democrats) were concerned about the election of the Secretary General for Müntefering; the Chairman of the Party wanted Wasserhövel, his candidate to be elected by the board of management. However, the chairmen of the board considered that he was not the right person and they were angry because of the chairman's egomaniacal attitude, through which - already for quite a time - he had tried to carry his point. On the other hand there was Andrea Nahles the ex-chairman of Juso, a gifted and very ambitious young politician, who did not want to give in. Thus, they arranged for a crucial vote in which Müntefering, the candidate was the loser (45 members of the board, 23 votes for Nahles, 14 votes for Wasserhövel).

This caused Franz Müntefering the chairman of the SPD to resign from office, because he lost the confidence of the chairmen of the board. The members of the board were consternated, they only wanted to point to the chairman's style, and all of a sudden the whole party was shaking, and the negotiations for the Coalition were affected by this. Andrea Nahles was completely confused and did not even dare to run for the first deputy chairman office.

Luckily „Münte“ was willing to continue the negotiations for the Coalition and to accept the office of the Vice-Chancellor, and the Secretary of State for Employment. After this negative periode, negotiations went on easier and were finished in time; the relationship between Merkel and Münterfering improved noticeably.

And who was the Person God has put in the chairman's place? Matthias Platzeck (51), the Prime Minister of Brandenburg. For a long time already, this change had provided rejuvenation for the praty. But later! Now it was a matter of just a few hours. However, after 2 days everything was clear. What grace!

But who is this unknown person Platzeck? He is known to be completely unambitious, a factual man with authority and the gift of compansation. In Potsdam he has been leading a large Coalition,for a few years and he is very popular because of his humility. As well as Angela Merkel he is a natural scientist and was born in the former GDR, where they came to know each other. He is a pragmatist and no SPD-ideologue, especially so because he only joined the party 10 years ago. By all accounts, Platzeck seems to have resigned from the church 15 years ago, but after yearlong discussions with a priest some three years ago, he took up his church membership again.

Thus, God exalts the humble and scatters thoses who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

This was finally obvious at the fall of Edmund Stoiber . He had already wanted to return to Munich for a long time, but had made a lot of pressure in order to acquire the Ministry of economics, plus the departments of other ministries (technology, Europe); he had spread himself out. The worst thing was that he harmed Angela Merkel where ever he could. Now, and even during the election campaign fromt the very beginning of the negotiaitions for the Coalition, he and Müntefering clamoured together against Merkel, that she was not allowed to exert her enforcement of guidelines with such a configuration, even though she - as Chancelloress - had the right to do so.

At the same time, however, Stoiber noticed that he was possibly charged with an office which could shipwreck him, and that he might simultaneuously lose support in Bavaria. Thus, he tried to get out of Merkel's team without a loss of face. Müntefering's retirement seemed to have promted him to do so, and because of this, only two hours later he rennounced the economic resort position and announced that he would return to Bavaria. Mrs. Merkel took note of it with respect; but the Media scoffed at him and pointed to Lafountaines flight in 1998.

Nobody bemoaned his loss, but many people were upset in Bavaria. A few days later at the party convention Stoiber had to apologise to his party officially – a humiliation, which nobody could have imagined few months ago.

Horst Seehofer was only called into the cabinett due to the pressure Stoiber had made – against Merkel's enunciated will. Stoiber brought Seehofer—Angela Merkel's strongest ennemy – as the “thorn in the flesh” of Angela Merkel. And what did God do? As soon as Stoiber disappeared, he changed Seehofer's heart (the heart of a good politician!) so much that he turned and spoke good things about the Chancelloress. Immediately, the Chanelloress did the same thing in public with him. Thus, this capable man was freed from heatred and released to unfold his potential – a thing that became obviuos in the current ‘rotten meat' affair. Due to Stoiber's disappearance, Seehofer changed to be a co-operative member of the cabinet, which Merkel wants to lead in a friendly and co-operative style.

Michael Glos , the chairman of the CSU faction in the Bundestag, will be Stoiber's successor in the economic resort, which will be taken over by the CSU. Because he is the owner of a flour mill company, he is very close to the economy especially to the medium-sized companies, and thus by all accounts more adequate than Stoiber for the economic position. At the same time, he has been a member of the Bundestag since 1976(!) and therefore he has gained a lot of experience in federal policy. Due to his humorous and faire nature, he has gained a lot of friends and much respect even among his own political adverairs; he is one of those few politicians that Angela Merkel addresses informally.

Thus God has brought in a capable man who is really supporting the Chancelloress. He is a man whom you can trust – a thing which is far more important than anything else in the economy right now. God is good!

Also the other Ministers are the most qualified Ministers of their parties:

Thomas de Maizière (CDU), the Chief of the Chancellorship, is a “Wossi” – a punning combination of the word “east" and “west” - was already active as the Minister of finances, justice, and home secretary in Dresden. He also helped to manage the large Coalition in Saxony. He has the ability to overview things that are in a muddle – difficult situations. Moreover, he is actively involved as a member of the Synode of the Lutheran Church in Saxony.

Franz Müntefering , (SPD) is a skilled industrial clerk who has already run several minister offices and other offices. He is a loyal staff member. He is Catholic and, as far as I know, he maintains a lively contact with his church out of conviction.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), Foreign Secretary. As Minister of the chancellery he was one of Schröder's close staff members and contributed significantly in the political development of the Schröder government. He is a rather reserved man and strongly appreciated by Angela Merkel.

Peer Steinbrück (SPD), Minister of Financies. Different from Hans Eichel who was a teacher, Steinbrück is a skilled economist. First and foremost, he is an experienced Minister of Finaces and he was the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia for many years. He is extremely clear in his words and deeds.

Ulla Schmidt (SPD), the Federal Minister of Health and Social Security is in charge of one of the most embattled departments. Since 2001, in the course of some years she compelled respect for her views regarding medical professions, insurance and pharmaceutical industry. In the "Polticians Bible" she says that her favoured Bibel vers is Ecclesiastes 3,1: „There is a time for everything, and a reason for every activity under heaven.” Why? „These Words offer stability for here and now. They make it possible to look backwards. They give you the serenity possible to question your own deeds and to find new answers . They make it possible… to gain strength.“

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (SPD), since 1998 Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. She was the one who officially appologised at the ‘100st reccurence of the Herero revolt' in the former German colonies of “S.W.Africa” – today Namibia - and asked for forgiveness in the “spirit of our God in Heaven” for the massacre of the German troops among the so-called “niggers” at that time.

Brigitte Zypries (SPD), the Minister of Justice since 2002. She is Herta Däubler-Gmelin's successor. She was the one who organised the help for the flood in summer 2002 for Schröder. This was a major contribution to his election victory at that time.

Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), the Minister for the Environment in Lower Saxony from 1998-2003. A polemicist, one who always sharpens issues and gets his points succesfully across in the media, one who rather prefers to be the head than to submit.

Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD) Minister of Transport and Minister for the Development in the East. He was the lord mayor of Leipzig and is considered to be the hope for the future of the SPD in the East. He only joined the party in 1995. His contribution promoted Leipzig in industrial settlement as well as in the Olympics application. An upright and authentic man.

Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), Home Secretary. With his 33(!) years of service in the Bundestag he seems to be the most experienced politician on Merkel's side. Eventhough he went through deep valleys politically but also personally, he is very capable in all areas and today, he remains a very mature voice. We can only thank God that this man is in the cabinet and that he is in charge for the interior of our country.

Annette Schavan (CDU), Secretary of Education. For 10 years she has been the Minister of Education in Teufel's cabinet in Stuttgart. She became famous because of the debate on the head-scarf ban for muslim teachers in state-run schools. She is a convicted Catholich Christian and for many years she was the vice-president of the central committee of German Catholics. She is a close friend of Angela Merkel.

Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), Minister for Family and Community Services. Medical doctor, mother of 7 children, doughter of the former Prime-Minister Ernst Albrecht, Hannover. She is a career changer. Her political career started only in 2001. MP Christian Wulff is her strongest supporter. Her charm, her eloquence and her way of winning people made her famous.

Franz Josef Jung (CDU), the Minister of Defence. A lawyer from Hesse is skilled in many political areas, he is MP's Roland Koch "multi-purpose weapon" and was the leader of his State Chancellery in the end. Different form Peter Struck, he also „served“ in the army.

We already mentioned the other CDU/CSU ministers Michael Glos and Horst Seehofer.

3. The Federal Chancelloress

As far as Angela Merkel is concerned we can only say that God also worked on her. At first HE humbeled her deeply on the election evening when she and her party, the CDU, were parctically 20% ahead of Schröder; by letting her lose everything and slip down to a mere 0,9% lead head of Schröder and his party, the SPD. She seemed to be shaken by this.

But she did not give up, she gained courage and insisted on her rights and being corrected by God, she changed her note completely. Whithin a few days the full-bodied opposition leader changed to be a pleasant moderator who showed both respect and fairness, smoothing the way up to her governmental declaration and brought a friendly and fearless style into debates and the cabinet. This should be a cabinet of „new possibilities” in which new possibilities are to be found beyond party constraints.

God has made room for her and given her the necessar respect. Although she was trapped between Müntefering and Stoiber, the two chairmen of the parties, who wanted to undo her ability to enforce guidlines, were removed by God within two hours on one single day (31.10). God first removed the one of them and then the other. She stood there, completely eliberated without having to do anything – with the appearenace of being as solid as a rock. Therefore, everybody was happy for her, in that she was at least able to stand. The Lord exalts the humble in a bat of an eyelid: this is how things are.

It is refreshing to see that the two best heads of the parties are no longer fighting but are co-operating wisely with each other and to hear them speaking positve words to each other. It seems that they are reconciled with each other regarding the wounds of the past election campaign and the time before. Because the CDU and the SPD have been strong advarsaires for 36 years. This is God's blessing over the country. „How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! For there the Lord bestows his blessing.” (Psalm 133 vs. 1+3) Spiritually and economically our country urgently needs this blessing. Because this blessing means peace and peace brings forth trust; trust brings forth courage and courage discloses the future.

And isn't this also a blessing that those two people from East Germany have been allowed to promote the gradual renewal of our country? God again props up our East German fellow citizens who often suffered under the complex of inferiority on which the PDS used to play the melodie an East-German nostalgic melody. But now it becomes obvious that in 1989, in Leipzig, the Monday demonstrations and the prayers, brought forth the political reversal in East Germany at an early stage. And now in 2005 there are again two East Germans who are heralding a change. God listens to our prayers and brings together what belongs together. This was his intention, his gift for us.

There is also an other new thing God is working through Angela Merkel: For the first time, Germany is ruled by a woman. She has never capitalised on the advantage of being a female and even during election this was no point of discussion. Nevertheless, her female advantage is wanted by God and an important factor for him in order to bless our country. Because women are able to think „stereo“ compared to men who can only think “mono”. This has something to do with the activity of the two halves of the brain of both men and women. In difficult situations, a man easily shifts gears to implementation and power, whereas a woman like Angela Merkel is capable to wait until she's got the right answer – a thing men love to call the “lack of assertiveness” until they find out that all of a sudden they are on the losing side. - The fact that God gives our country a woman as Chancellor is not a minor point, it isn't either a re-enaction of the feminist debate, but a first step towards peace for women in our country, a contribution to the reconcilliation of gender and to a happy co-operation with the diversity of their abilities. In this intricate situation men are to experience how good it is to be led by an able woman. It might be possible for her first name to be a programme for God to use her as an “angel” for our country.

Personally, I had problems with Angela Merkel's aptitude during the election campaign. However, since the disaster in the election evening I can see God giving her grace upon and using her. May she abide in this humility in order to let the blessing flow through her and this country. In diverse speeches and interviews as a Christian she has clearly confessed her faith and this faith will accompany her deeds and will protect her from pride on the inside and against the poisonous arrows from the outside. The fact that she is the doughter of a priest is not so important, but that she both has and that she confesses her own belief in God.

How good is God!

Years ago we heard that the Norwegians prepared the forthcoming elections in prayer and fasting and that the result of their prayers was a Cabinet where half of the ministers (or even more?) were confessing Christians.

In the long run the level of prayer for the society of our country has increased significantly in the last few years. More and more Christians understand that God listens even to continuous and earnest prayers in the political area – even though it takes time sometimes.

The spiritual climat of our country has changed. We have prayed against the dark clouds over our country

Through the change of government the political climate has changed also. This is in close connection with spiritual changes in the country and opens new doors for spiritual blessings.

In this context I refer to two factors in particular:

(a) We prayed for a cabinet in which all minsters will publically say in their official oath in front of the parlaiment and national TV: „So help me God“. Since Schröder's 1st and 2nd Cabinet this prayer has resulted into a confession of their faith in God. How many ministers will say this now? Especially in the Ministerial team of the SPD? This happened on Tuesday, 22nd November and all male and female Ministers confessed at the end of their oath: „So help me God“. Thus, they confessed their personal belief in God who controls the world's history, who helped them in the past and who will help them in the future.

There was only one exception: Brigitte Zypries, the Minister of justice did not speake these words because she hadn't spoken them in 2002. These words would have brought her – even if she wanted to speak them – the accusation of adaptation to current trends.

There is now a Cabinet in Germany, a government which is united - beyond the borders of parties and denominations - through the faith in a living God and his works in every day political life. Wouldn't it be nice for the Cabinet to start their plenary sessions with at least a liturgical prayer? This would effect the whole atmosphere during discussions. And it would surely increase the efficiency. Is it not possible for the Cabinet to invite Dr. Stefan Reimers, the representative of the Lutheran Church, Dr. Karls Jüsten, the representative of the Catholic Church, or in turn the representative of the non-denominational churches respectively of the Evangelical Alliance? the representative of the Catholic Church, Dr. Karls Jüsten or the representativ of the non-denominational churches respectively of the Evangelical in turn?

(b) Apart from the Cabinet Germany has three aware Christians in the three top positions of the state – what a fortune for a country! Very often the Bible shows us from the Old Testament the connection between the King's relationship with God and the well-being of a people. The leadership of a political system is the bottle neck through which both blessing or coursing comes upon a country.

The first person is, Federal President Horst Köhler. He has confessed his belief in God and in God's love for Germany in his first speech which he concluded with the following words: “God bless our country!” He lives and works in the Federal President's Office where there are only a few believers to support him. Thus, he need to have good councellors around him.

The second person is, the President of the Bundestag. Since October this is Dr. Norbert Lammert (CDU). He is 57 years old and since 1980 a member of the Bundestag. In the period prior he was already the Vice-president of the Bundestag. He is Catholic and reads his Bible, which he knows very well. In the „Politicians Bible“ he writes that his favourite Bible vers is Mt 26 vs. 75: „And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Peter's obvious inadequate relation between pretence and reality was – he said – “for me as a politically-involved Christian both a warning and an encouragement at the same time.” However, the most beautiful sentence of the Bible describing the relationship between God and man is in John 21, 17: “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” This is a personal testamony.

Angela Merkel as the Chancelloress is ranked 3rd in the state. God has used her to put the first two quality people in office. She is very gifted in finding the right people. And God is helping her and remove the wrong people around her.

PRAYER

•  Adoration to the God who makes history sovereignly.

•  Thanks to God because he obviously loves our country, because he cares so much for us. Thanks for everything that we see and also for the things we don't see.

•  Prayer for the a deeper unity between East and West Germany.

•  Thanks, for the Grand Coalition, for the peace and the reassurance that emanates from it.

•  Thanks for the three Christians at the top of the state: Federal President, Köhler, President of the Bundestag, Lammert, Federal Chancellor Merkel.

•  Prayer for the right adviser, helper, speech-writers, secretaries etc. and for many praying and capable Christians among them.

•  Thanks for the cabinet.

•  Prayer for:

•  individual ministers, for wisdom, right decissions and protection

•  good relations among them,

•  increase in trust with each other,

•  good coperation among Ministers,

•  effective authority for the Chancelloress among the Cabinet, in the nation and in the world,

•  Prayer at the beginning of a plenary session.

•  for the married couples and the families of our top politicians.

Ortwin Schweitzer

Sources : Deutschlandfunk; Stuttgarter Zeitung 14.10.; 18.10.; 2.11.; 1.12.05; - FAZ –Sonntag 6.11.05;- DIE ZEIT 17.11.05; - EINS! The Ev. Alliance no. 4/2005 - Kürschners Volkshandbuch, Deutscher Bundestag, 15. Wahlperiode (2002-2005); - K. Jüsten/St. Reimers: Suchet der Stadt Bestes – (Seek the good of the country). Politicians Bible, Friedrich Wittig Verlag, Kiel 2004.

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