Germany’s chaos-wracked Social Democrats have named Andrea Nahles as their designated next leader, meaning women will soon be in the driver’s seats of the two biggest parties and shifting a long-skewed gender balance in politics.
Alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel, Nahles is set to join a growing band of women heading, or co-leading, German political parties despite the fact that female lawmakers still account for fewer than one third of seats in parliament.
Merkel has also pledged for the first time, following the lead of France and Canada, to place women in half of the cabinet posts in her fourth-term government, which is expected to be launched in late March.
When Martin Schulz, the luckless former head of the Social Democrats (SPD), said last week he wanted to hand over the post to Nahles, he declared that it was time, at last, “for a woman to lead the 153-year-old party”.
The election loser also said he wanted to become foreign minister, sparking an SPD outcry about his perceived opportunism that forced him to back off and has now ended his short career near the top of German politics.
With the SPD in open turmoil, said the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, a major party has once again asked a “rubble woman” to clean up the mess — a reference to the mythologised women who after World War II helped clear Germany’s bombed cities.
The move evoked the start of Merkel’s rise within the Christian Democrats, it said, when the east German outsider took the helm of the male-dominated conservatives as they were reeling from a campaign finance scandal around former chancellor Helmut Kohl.
“When everything is in ruins,” the newspaper said, “women are asked to step in.”
– ‘Only real guy’ –
Nahles, 47, a former labour minister who once headed the SPD youth wing, has earned a reputation as hard-working, pragmatic and combative.
She invigorated her demoralised party with a lectern-thumping speech in January, when the tabloid-style Bild daily paid her the questionable compliment of being “the only real guy” in her party.
Nahles herself made headlines with unconventional language when she used a street brawler’s phrase akin to “knocking someone’s teeth in” after the election loss for what she then saw as the party’s future role in opposition.
She recently told news weekly Der Spiegel that female politicians tend to be criticised for ambition “while the boys are judged differently”.
Nahles was Tuesday unanimously approved by the party leadership, but will have to wait to take the top job until an April 22 party congress, with Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz in charge until then.
Besides Merkel and Nahles, other women increasingly dominate the political scene, from Sahra Wagenknecht of the far-left Die Linke to Alice Weidel of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Merkel’s mooted one-time successors are women, with regional leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer having recently bumped Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen as the rumoured favourite.
The rise of women in politics comes despite the fact Germany is still a long way from granting gender equality in corporate boardrooms and other sectors of society.
In the new parliament, women hold just 30.7 percent of seats, the lowest ratio in years.
– ‘Neurotic relationship’ –
When it comes to gender equality, the Greens and Die Linke have long been pioneers, with 50-50 splits for their party lists, while the worst performer is the AfD, with 10 percent female lawmakers, according to a count by Die Welt daily.
Merkel’s conservatives — including her Bavarian allies the CSU, who like to give speeches in beer halls — have a 20 percent female share, less than half of the SPD’s 42 percent.
And the pro-business Free Democrats — whose former lawmaker Rainer Bruederle sparked an early German version of the #MeToo debate in 2013 with alleged inappropriate comments to a female journalist — has women in 22 percent of seats.
Merkel has avoided calling herself a feminist and long rejected quotas to promote women in politics or business.
In an awkward panel discussion a year ago with Ivanka Trump, Merkel gave an evasive answer when asked whether she was a feminist.
Only after Queen Maxima of the Netherlands defined being a feminist as wishing “freedom of choice and opportunities” to all women, Merkel chimed in that “then I am one, too”.
Merkel’s public persona, rather than that of women’s champion, has been that of “Mutti” or “Mummy”, arguably a step up from the days when Kohl dubbed her his “little girl”.
Der Spiegel argued recently that many German men “have a neurotic relationship with Merkel” and that even her nickname “contains a strange mixture of derision and subservience”.
George Floyd’s brother tears up discussing condolence phone call from Trump: ‘It hurt me’
The brother of George Floyd described the condolence phone call he received from President Donald Trump during a Saturday interview on MSNBC.
Philonise Floyd was interviewed by the Rev. Al Sharpton on "Politics Nation."
While Derek Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third degree murder, the other three officers involved in the killing remain free.
"They all need to be convicted of first degree murder and given the death penalty," Floyd said.
"What was the conversation with President Trump like?" Sharpton asked.
"It was so fast," Floyd replied.
"He didn't give me an opportunity to even speak. It was hard, I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept like pushing me off, like 'I don't want to hear what you're talking about.' And I just told him I want justice. I said that I couldn't believe they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight."
Bill Barr slammed by ex-FBI official for ignoring the right-wing ‘Boogaloo Bois’ infiltrating protests
Attorney General Bill Barr was slammed by the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday for misleading Americans about the source of violence at the protests over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.
"There's evidence developing, Brian, that the organization we're seeing of the most violent protesters is coming from a couple of disturbing places," both, by the way, there's disparate in terms in being from the right or the left. here's what those who monitor these groups and sites are seeing.
"We're seeing a far-right group, one group for example known as the Boogaloo Bois, who on their private Facebook page and social media outlets are calling for violence, calling for people to show up," Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC's Brian Williams.
Trump is the ‘greatest troll in the history of the internet’ and Twitter needs to ‘pull the plug’: NYT columnist
President Donald Trump would face an existential crisis if Twitter were to enforce it's own rules and hold him accountable -- and one New York Times columnist wants to see it happen.
"C’mon, @Jack. You can do it," Maureen Dowd wrote, referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with his username on the platform.
She urged Dorsey to "just pull the plug on him."
"You could answer the existential question of whether @realDonaldTrump even exists if he doesn’t exist on Twitter. I tweet, therefore I am. Dorsey meets Descartes," she explained. "All it would take is one sweet click to force the greatest troll in the history of the internet to meet his maker."