Merkel's Mac plays key role in coalition's survival bid
Chancellor looks to David McAllister for State election boost in Lower Saxony polL
German chancellor Angela Merkel is strictly a Microsoft Windows woman, but, tomorrow she’s praying her Mac won’t crash.
Germany’s bumper election year kicks off with a state poll in Lower Saxony and the man to watch is the half-Scottish Christian Democratic Union (CDU) premier David McAllister.
His soldier father served with the British military forces in west Berlin and the 42-year-old has been happy to exploit the Scottish spendthrift reputation to present himself to voters as the man for stable state finances.
Adding to his exotic status in German politics is his informal, irreverent air – typified by thousands of CDU campaign placards proclaiming “I’m a Mac”.
Borrowing computer giant Apple’s familiar – but uncopyrighted – advertising slogan has, overnight, made David McAllister a household name on the federal political stage.
After just two years as state premier in the state capital, Hanover, McAllister is now first among equals in the CDU’s next generation of leaders.
His next move will depend on tomorrow’s election in Germany’s second largest state, stretching from the North Sea coast to Göttingen in the south. That in turn hangs on the fate of McAllister’s struggling coalition partner.
The Free Democrats (FDP) are flatlining in polls and could easily could drop off the political map, leaving McAllister with a problem.
“We really have no votes to spare, I have to get well over 40 per cent so that we can manage with an FDP on just five, six per cent,” McAllister said, aware the FDP will be lucky to get even that.
Winning the election but watching his CDU-FDP coalition depart office would be a bad omen for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s identical alliance at federal level before the general election in September.
Worse for Merkel: losing Hanover would shift the law-making balance of power in Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, to the Social Democrats (SPD).
The SPD has promised to exploit this ruthlessly to block any and all of Dr Merkel’s final projects to try and make her appear a lame duck leader.
A good result tomorrow would spare Merkel many headaches and boost McAllister’s stock in Berlin. Even a defeat might provide a useful springboard to Berlin sooner rather than later. When Merkel departs the stage, McAllister is in with a shout of becoming CDU leader and the first chancellor to occasionally wear a kilt.
A bad result tomorrow will be a career-killer for FDP leader Philip Rösler. Two years in office, the 39-year-old federal politician has failed to reverse a decline in party support from a record near 15 per cent in 2009 as voters desert the party for not delivering on its tax cut pledges.
Rösler will know his fate tomorrow evening, but his party has just eight months to claw back credibility and rescue the Berlin coalition. A final poll yesterday showed the Lower Saxony election was too close to call, with both coalitions on 46 per cent.