For an hour or so, even the international press was mildly excited – “resignation of one of Merkel’s senior Christian Democrats from government over Greek bailout” or something along those lines. They got it wrong. Gauweiler is a member of the CSU (not Merkel’s party), and he held no government office. He had a long political career centred around right-wing policies and controversy. He has voted time and again the bailouts, and has made various attempts to stop them via the Federal Constitutional Court. In other words, he rebelled, and he sued his own government.
In return, he was not only tolerated but was made (one of four) deputy chairs of the CSU in 2013 by Horst Seehofer. That maneuver was part of the CSU’s rather transparent “have it both ways” strategy: The party supported Merkel and her policies but nonetheless tried to cover the right and Eurosceptic flank that had come under attack from the AfD. With the federal and European elections firmly behind us, Gauweiler and his (few) fellow rebels have served their purposed. His resignation signifies exactly that: there is no major uprising under way.
Predictably, the AfD have asked Gauweiler to jump ship, but he has already declined. At 65, he will probably focus on his (very lucrative) law practice. Without doubt, his resignation will contribute to the growing disaffection with Seehofer’s erratic style of leadership. But even that will matter only in the medium run, if at all.
Want to read more about this? Here is my interview with Handelsblatt Global on the Gauweiler resignation.
Photo by blu-news.org