Quantcast
Connect with us

In German political chaos, ‘rubble woman’ to the rescue

Published

on

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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).

ADVERTISEMENT

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’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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”.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Mick Mulvaney is Trump’s new fall guy on corruption — and Republicans just play along

Published

on

It's getting increasingly more difficult to keep track of all the new impeachable acts President Trump commits every day. And perhaps even more difficult to imagine the most outrageous thing he can do that the Republican Party would still defend.

This article first appeared in Salon.

It took almost two weeks, but the White House has finally admitting what everyone knew from day one: Trump demanded a quid pro quo from the Ukrainian government before releasing military aid authorized by Congress. Republicans have been denying the obvious, remaining willfully blind to a brazen scheme. That suddenly seems quaint, now that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has confessed on live television that there was a quid pro quo.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

The week Donald Trump’s presidency crashed and burned — and Republicans noticed

Published

on

It feels as though every week during the Trump administration is a year and every year a decade. Every day there is a crisis or an outrage or a revelation that takes your breath away. But the underlying dynamics always seem to be the same no matter what. The press reports the story, the Democrats get outraged, the pundits analyze it, the president rages and then Fox and the Republicans all line up like a bunch of robots and salute smartly. Then we reset until the next crisis, outrage or revelation. It's an exhausting cycle that never seems to get us anywhere and it's bred a fatalistic response in many of us: "Nothing matters."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Turkish president threatens US over Trump’s insulting letter: ‘When the time comes necessary steps will be taken’

Published

on

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an on Friday warned the United States that it would pay a price for the letter send by President Donald Trump that warned him that history "will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen" in northern Syria.

The letter, which also advised Erdo?an to not "be a tough guy" or "a fool," was widely ridiculed in the media for sounding childish. Erdo?an, however, said on Friday that he took the president's letter as a serious insult to his stature as a world leader.

As reported by the BBC's Jon Sopel, Erdo?an called out the president's letter for being out of line with standard diplomatic protocol, and he suggested his country would not forget how the president showed them such little respect.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image