The Dark Monk13 Oct 2004
It will go unnoticed outside of Germany, but yesterday Friedrich Merz resigned all of his party leadership positions in the CDU. Merz was the CDU fiscal and economic policy expert, and developed the CDU 3-rate tax reform plan. He was shoved aside as party faction leader by Merkel after the 2002 election.
His departure is a sign of the increasing Stoiberization of the CDU, away from concrete policy and towards coddling client voters (commuter subsidy, home-owner subsidy) and emotional polarization (Bundeswehr as domestic police, petition on Turkey). If the Union fails to gain power in 2006, it will be symbolic of the Union's failure to take advantage of Schröder's mid-term weakness.
Merz had a unique media presence. He's short and slightly balding, and had a habit of slightly bowing his head and looking up at the camera. It made him look like an evil monk, something out of The Name of the Rose. It distracted from his usually clear and consistent positions. German politics will be less interesting, and the Union worse off, without him.