US-Depeschen über Deutschland Im Netz der Denunzianten
Die USA wissen viel über die Geheimnisse deutscher Politik - sie bekommen von überall heikle Interna zugetragen. Die jetzt enthüllten Depeschen zeigen, wie kritisch die Elite der Bundesrepublik eingeschätzt wird. Außenminister Westerwelle gilt als inkompetent, die Kanzlerin als "Teflon-Merkel".
Hamburg - Was verraten die Geheimdepeschen, die WikiLeaks jetzt enthüllt hat, über deutsche Politiker? Die amerikanischen Diplomaten sehen die Bundesregierung kritisch, das belegen die Dokumente. Die Kabel enthalten auch deutliche Einschätzungen zum Berliner Spitzenpersonal - und auch in dieser Hinsicht sind die Amerikaner skeptisch.
Vor allem Außenminister Guido Westerwelle (FDP) wird von den Amerikanern negativ beurteilt. Die Geheimberichte beschreiben ihn als inkompetent, eitel und amerikakritisch. Die US-Diplomaten sehen sich vor die Herausforderung gestellt, wie sie mit einem Politiker umgehen sollen, der ein "Rätsel" sei, mit wenig außenpolitischer Erfahrung und einem "zwiespältigen Verhältnis zu den USA". Westerwelle habe eine "überschäumende Persönlichkeit", heißt es beispielsweise in einer Depesche der US-Botschaft Berlin vom 22. September 2009. Deshalb falle es ihm schwer, bei Streitfragen mit Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel in den Hintergrund zu treten.
Unter den Dokumenten sind allein 1719 Berichte der Botschaft Berlin. Die Amerikaner betrachten das Bundeskanzleramt in außenpolitischen Fragen als den besseren Ansprechpartner. Im Vergleich zu Westerwelle habe Kanzlerin Merkel "mehr Erfahrung in Regierungsarbeit und Außenpolitik".
Die Koalition betrachten die US-Diplomaten insgesamt skeptisch. Merkel habe das "Joch der Großen Koalition abgeschüttelt, nur um jetzt mit einem FDP-CSU-Doppel-Joch belastet zu sein", heißt es in einer Depesche vom Februar 2010.
<<225947>> 9/18/2009 16:02 09BERLIN1162 Embassy Berlin CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN 09BERLIN594 VZCZCXRO9293 PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR DE RUEHRL #1162/01 2611602 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 181602Z SEP 09 FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5243 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY TAGS: PGOV, PREL, GM SUBJECT: GERMANY'S NEXT FOREIGN MINISTER?: THE WORLD REF: BERLIN 594
C o n f i d e n t i a l section 01 of 04 berlin 001162
E.o. 12958: decl: 09/14/2019 Tags: pgov, prel, gm Subject: germany's next foreign minister?: the world according to fdp chairman guido westerwelle
Ref: berlin 594
Classified By: MINISTER-COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS GEORGE GLASS FO R REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D)
1. (C//NF) Free Democratic Party (FDP) Chairman Guido Westerwelle may be on the verge of becoming Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor in a Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU)-FDP government after the parliamentary elections on September 27. He has a strong craving for political power and recognition after spending eleven years in opposition. Westerwelle previewed his foreign and security policy objectives and views in a major speech at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) on May 4, a speech for which the media nicknamed him "Guido Genscher," playing on Westerwelle's ideological leanings and close relationship with former FDP Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.
2. (C//NF) Westerwelle's DGAP remarks provided us with a glimpse of Westerwellian thought. They were short on substance, suggesting that Westerwelle's command of complex foreign and security policy issues still requires deepening if he is to successfully represent German interests on the world stage (see REFTEL). While he is a Transatlanticist, Westerwelle questions the breadth of U.S. power and U.S. calls for stronger German engagement. He also harbors resentment that he has not been taken more seriously by the Washington political establishment. (NOTE: Embassy will report SEPTEL on more detailed foreign policy implications for the U.S. of a Westerwelle-led MFA). END SUMMARY.
Westerwelle's foreign policy priorities ---------------------------------------
3. (C) Westerwelle's most important foreign policy priorities will be focused on global disarmament and arms control. In remarks in Schwerin on September 17, Westerwelle called again for the removal of all U.S. tactical nuclear weapons -- within the context of negotiations with NATO -- from German soil. He was very critical of the Bush Administration's Missile Defense plans but was quick to praise President Obama's recent announcement on Missile Defense, saying "this move created additional international confidence." Westerwelle remains a committed Transatlanticist but he has been consistently cautious of committing German troops to out-of-area deployments. Afghanistan was the exception. Westerwelle continues to support Germany's ISAF mandate, but he has also indicated that the FDP wants to bring German troops home from Afghanistan as soon as possible provided the mission has been successfully completed. Westerwelle and the FDP support close engagement with Russia and see it as a "strategic partner. Westerwelle has pursued close ties with Russia's leadership during his eleven years in opposition. On Iran, Westerwelle has talked about the need for dialogue but his party's pro-business orientation makes him particularly skeptical of sanctions and resistant to unilateral efforts to cut back trade.
The unlikely foreign minister -----------------------------
4. (C//NF) By his own admission, Westerwelle has never seriously harbored a fascination for international affairs. FDP Bundestag member Marina Schuster told PolOff recently that foreign policy is not Westerwelle's "true love," but that he will take this position due to its high profile and as it is tied to the position of Vice-Chancellor. FDP contacts tell us that he plans to remain a foreign policy generalist, which suggests he will have plenty of time to wax lyrical on domestic politics - to the potential detriment of political harmony in a possible future CDU/CSU-FDP coalition. He also finds very appealing the prospect of being one of the only cabinet members besides the chancellor who can choose his media advisors, which suggests that Westerwelle will continue to place great emphasis on cultivating his public image.
5. (C//NF) There is a contrast between Westerwelle's increased public support and successful leadership of the FDP versus the continued skepticism, often bordering on contempt, shown by much of the German foreign policy elite toward him. Opinion polls show that Westerwelle's public image has improved substantially in the last year in particular. But, as one well known foreign policy analyst in Berlin told PolOff, he lacks the gravitas and is seen as too
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opportunistic to be trusted as foreign minister. At the conclusion of his DGAP speech, several MFA desk officers remarked to PolOff that they were not yet persuaded that Westerwelle had the "foreign and security policy expertise necessary" to become a successful Foreign Minister, although they had no doubts about his ability to get up to speed quickly. There was a consensus among desk officers -- driven, perhaps, by political bias -- that Westerwelle was arrogant and too fixated on maintaining his "cult of personality." Negative reaction to his DGAP speech reflects the foreign policy community's skepticism of Westerwelle.
He's no genscher ----------------
6. (C//NF) Like Dan Quayle in 1992, Westerwelle wants to compare himself to his mentor, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, but in the eyes of the foreign policy community, he is no Genscher. Nevertheless, Westerwelle's world-views have to a large extent been shaped by "Genscherism." British academic Timothy Garton Ash described "Genscherism" as an attempt "to maintain and improve Germany's ties with a wide range of states, which were themselves pursuing quite different and quite contrary objectives. This complex balancing act involved saying somewhat different things in different places." Genscherism also embraced a foreign policy "culture of restraint," while emphasizing the models of "cooperation" and "continuity" in German foreign policy, which Westerwelle discussed in his May 4 speech at the DGAP. Genscher's "culture of restraint" had a profound influence on Westerwelle's thinking, thus making him very skeptical about committing Germany's armed forces to overseas military operations (NOTE: Afghanistan was an exception, although with the caveat that Germany's area of responsibility there would remain limited to the north and would concentrate on police training and civil reconstruction efforts (SEPTEL). End note).
A transatlanticist with a twist -------------------------------
7. (C//NF) At the June 30 meeting, Westerwelle quickly confirmed his Transatlanticist credentials. Westerwelle's views on the United States' role in the world, however, also defines his brand of Transatlanticism. According to Westerwelle's political biographer Majid Sattar, Westerwelle has never been able to shake his skepticism about how the United States wields power in the world. Citing an exchange with former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt (1985-1989), Sattar recalls how Westerwelle forcefully intervened in a discussion the Ambassador was having on U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War to say: "But you are not the police of the world." Sattar comments further that Westerwelle was immune to any "transatlantic brainwashing." Although Westerwelle used his DGAP speech to criticize the United States under the Bush Administration for its excessive focus on the War on Terror and unilateralism, saying that the United States had lost its compass more than once, Westerwelle quickly changed his tune when he talked about the positive impact that President Obama has had on U.S. foreign policy since his election.
8. (C//NF) Westerwelle also made clear that he believes Germany needs to be more engaged in U.S. policy-making. He criticized Chancellor Merkel for not having been more engaged with Washington on issues of mutual interest, especially arms control, when Washington has been engaged in extensive policy reviews. He suggested that the FDP would quickly fill the vacuum should they enter government.
Westerwelle to washington: what about me? -----------------------------------------
9. (C//NF) Westerwelle has found it hard to conceal his resentment toward Washington based on his feeling that neither its top leadership nor the Embassy in Berlin had courted him during his time in opposition. At a June 30 meeting between the former CDA and Westerwelle, he criticized the Bush Administration for its failure to seek a political dialogue with him. Also revealing was Westerwelle's slight edge on his sense of humor, first charming us by inquiring about Secretary Clinton's health after her elbow injury and next joking that he would ask the Secretary if the Embassy had conveyed his best wishes.
10. (C//NF) Partially due to his insistence on only high-level meetings in Washington (and therefore limited contact), Westerwelle remains a relatively unknown political figure in the U.S., although he has traveled there many times. Unlike his future potential cabinet colleague,
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Christian Social Union (CSU) Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Westerwelle has little professional experience in the United States since he never made extensive efforts to introduce himself to the Washington policy community. Unfortunately, our attempts to reach out to Westerwelle were often rebuffed with the excuse that he would only meet the Ambassador. Only after extensive Embassy negotiations with Westerwelle's staff were former CDA and PolOff able to secure the June 30 meeting.
11. (C//NF) One week before the parliamentary elections, polls indicate that Westerwelle stands a good chance of becoming Germany's next foreign minister, a position he has been preparing for since 2002. If Westerwelle becomes Foreign Minister, we can expect tough love diplomacy from someone who prides himself in being our "close" friend, but who in reality remains skeptical about the U.S. and its foreign policy objectives. Westerwelle will be a friend, but he will not hesitate to criticize us if vital German interests are at stake or being challenged. Westerwelle's prickliness toward the United States would likely be neutralized by the long-sought attention from Washington he would receive if he becomes foreign minister. Germany's foreign policy elite will continue to view him with skepticism. The factor that assuages some of this concern, however, is that no one expects him to be able to match Chancellor Merkel if he does become Foreign Minister, and policy experts tell us that foreign policy influence is likely to shift even further to the Chancellery. END COMMENT.
Bio notes ---------
12. (U) Dr. Guido Westerwelle was born on December 27, 1961 in Bad Honnef (near Bonn) to Dr. Heinrich and Erika Westerwelle. Family members note that Westerwelle inherited the unbridled, aggressive temperament of his father and the calculated, deliberate, and hesitant cleverness of his mother. His parents divorced when he was 8 years old, which according to Westerwelle himself, left a scar on his educational and physical development. After the divorce, Westerwelle was raised by his father -- a lawyer -- and he maintained a close relationship with his mother, also a career lawyer, who lived nearby. Stefan and Henrik, Guido's half brothers, one from each of his parents' previous relationships, were older and soon left the house to live on their own. Westerwelle grew up with his younger brother Kai; they were very similar and both were considered active extroverts who enjoyed debates. Westerwelle enjoys horses and to this day he is an avid equestrian.
13. (SBU) Westerwelle is openly gay. He has said that this was not a problem at home since he was raised to be self-confident and his family was very liberal. In addition, Bonn, where Westerwelle went to university was a liberal town. Westerwelle officially came out rather quietly in the political world in 2005 at Merkel's 50th birthday party when he brought his partner, Michael Mronz, a sports manager, to the party. Mronz is currently a steering board member of the 2009 Berlin World Track and Field World Championships. Ironically, Westerwelle is conservative on gay rights. He is keen to protect the special status of marriages and families under German law. He opposes adoption by same sex couples but says that he wishes he could have children.
14. (U) Westerwelle developed an early taste for politics, being the editor of his high school newspaper. He caused a school controversy when he named teachers who he felt did not respect students who had transferred into the secondary high school system from the grammar school system. As a result of his story, many teachers developed a dislike for Westerwelle. He further developed his political thinking when he attended an event with Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Otto Graf Lambsdorff during the 1980 parliamentary elections. It was at that time that he decided to join the FDP and form an FDP youth group in Bonn. Westerwelle eventually became a lawyer but his younger brother Kai once said he had the impression that being a lawyer was never his brother's real goal. His understanding of the media and their use for his own political purposes is envied by many politicians. He takes a pro-active approach to overseeing his party's media operations. In front of the camera, Westerwelle comes across as serious, sharp, and calculating, and almost comical at times with what is perceived as a very exaggerated presence. In person, people say Westerwelle is very gallant, funny, and sarcastic.
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15. (U) In his free time, Westerwelle enjoys attending concerts and reading. He enjoys running, beach volleyball, sailing, horseback riding, and mountain biking. He collects paintings from New Leipzig School artists such as Neo Rauch and Tim Eitel and is a fond collector of works by Norbert Bisky and Joerg Immendorff. He enjoys vacationing in Italy and Spain. Murphy
<<229153>> 10/9/2009 12:48 09BERLIN1271 Embassy Berlin CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN 09BERLIN1162|09BERLIN1241 VZCZCXYZ0001 PP RUEHWEB
DE RUEHRL #1271/01 2821248 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 091248Z OCT 09 FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5455 INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MNUC, MARR, GM SUBJECT: WESTERWELLE FIRM ON REMOVAL OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS REF: A. BERLIN 1162
C o n f i d e n t i a l berlin 001271
E.o. 12958: decl: 10/09/2019
Tags: prel, pgov, mnuc, marr, gm
Subject: westerwelle firm on removal of nuclear weapons from germany in coalition negotiations
Ref: a. Berlin 1162 b. Berlin 1241
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor George Glass for reasons 1. 4 (b,d).
1. (C//NF) Summary: A well-placed FDP source said that on the first day of coalition negotiations (October 5) between the CDU, CSU and the FDP, FDP leader Westerwelle argued for the removal of the remaining non-strategic nuclear weapons from German soil. Interior Minister Schaeuble (CDU) asserted that the weapons serve as a deterrent. Other foreign policy issues discussed included support for Afghanistan and Turkey's accession to the EU. Source said that Chancellor Merkel (CDU) may push to complete the negotiations by October 18, but noted that the FDP is in no hurry. He provided Emboffs with a list of the membership of the negotiations plenary and working groups as well as timetable. Cabinet composition will only be decided at the end of coalition negotiations. End summary.
Westerwelle Firm on Removal of Nuclear Weapons --------------------------------------------- -
2. (C//NF) Formal coalition negotiations between Guido Westerwelle's Free Democratic Party (FDP), Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) on a coalition agreement began on October 5. FDP strategist shared with Emboffs and visiting Senior Germany Desk Officer October 7 information on issues discussed during the first two days of these negotiations as well as the negotiations schedule and working group make-up. Source serves as his party's notetaker for the negotiations and has been a long-standing close Embassy contact.
3. (C//NF) Source said that on October 5 negotiations included discussion on arms control in general and removal of the remaining non-strategic nuclear weapons from German soil. He said that Federal Interior Minister Schaeuble argued that the weapons serve as a deterrent to Iran. (Note: Regarding Schaeuble, source commented that he is "neurotic" in that he sees threats everywhere. He questioned whether Schaeuble's influence is as great as it once was and whether he will stay in his position. End note.) According to source, Westerwelle asserted that nuclear weapons on German soil do not serve as a deterrent against Iran since they could not reach Iran. He said that Westerwelle underlined that President Obama is moving forward toward a "nuclear-free world" and that he wants Germany to be in the lead. Source said that Chancellor Merkel quipped in response that Germany is not that important in this regard -- the world would hardly take notice if there were action on this matter. According to source, Merkel wanted to avoid discussion of this topic. Source also said that there was criticism of Social Democratic Party Foreign Minister Steinmeier that he did not respond adequately to President Obama's Prague speech in which he discussed arms control. In response to Poloff query, source said that the issue of removal of nuclear weapons is very important to Westerwelle and that he could well seek to include something specific in the coalition agreement.
Turkey's EU Membership; Afghanistan; Transatlantic Relations --------------------------------------------- ---------------
4. (C//NF) Source said that Turkey's accession to the EU was also discussed, with general agreement that Turkey is not ready for membership and could not fulfill membership criteria. Source said that there was agreement that no decision would have to be reached on this issue within the next four years in any case. Westerwelle also spoke against any type of automatic decision in favor of membership for Turkey. There was also general agreement that the EU is not ready for new members at this time beyond Croatia.
5. (C//NF) Afghanistan was also an issue, but source only noted that there was general agreement on the need to continue efforts in Afghanistan. Source also stressed that the three parties support strong transatlantic relations and continuity in foreign policy.
The Devil's in the Details; What's the Rush? --------------------------------------------
6. (C//NF) Source assessed some differences in Merkel's and Westerwelle's approach to the negotiations, although he also noted that the atmosphere was "very friendly and relaxed." He observed that Merkel preferred less detail and more general provisions, whereas Westerwelle was interested in a
detailed agreement that would guide the coalition over the next four years. In addition, source noted that Merkel is trying to push the negotiations along since she would like to have the new government in place before she travels to Washington in early November and before the EU summit at the end of October. Source indicated that Westerwelle might try to use Merkel's desire for speed to his advantage in the negotiations. While he did not indicate that the FDP would prolong negotiations intentionally, he noted that the FDP was in no hurry to complete them.
Ministries Divided Among Parties Last -------------------------------------
7. (C//NF) Regarding the possible make-up of the cabinet, source said that no decisions will be made until the end of coalition negotiations and that the current membership of working groups should not be seen as an indication of who will end up in which ministry (see ref B). Source also said that the coalition agreement may only say which ministerial posts go to which coalition parties, without any names being given. The names would only be provided later, perhaps after the Chancellor is voted in by the Bundestag. Source noted that only two positions are certain: Angela Merkel will be Chancellor and Guido Westerwelle will be Vice Chancellor. He added that Westerwelle will most likely also become the next foreign minister. He then commented that during October 5 negotiations, Economics Minister zu Guttenberg demonstrated his interest in foreign policy and Hermann Otto Solms (FDP) showed he could play an increasingly important role in the financial area. Source provided Emboffs with the names of those serving in the plenary rounds of the negotiations and a schedule of when those rounds will take place.
--Plenary Members from the CDU: Chancellor Merkel, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Chancellery Chief Thomas de Maziere, Education Minister Annette Shavan, CDU/CSU Caucus Chief Volker Kauder, CDU General Secretary Ronald Pofalla, Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Juergen Ruettgers, Minister President of Hesse Roland Koch, Minister President of Lower Saxony Christian Wulff.
--Plenary Members from the CSU: Minister President of Bavaria and CSU Chair Horst Seehofer, Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Head of CSU Bundestag group Peter Ramsauer, CSU Secretary General Alexander Dobrindt, Bavaria State Parliament President Barbara Stamm, Bavaria Plenipotentiary Markus Soeder, Bavaria Finance Minister Georg Fahrenschon, Bavaria Justice Minister Beate Merk.
--Plenary Members from the FDP: Party Chair Guido Westerwelle, FDP Secretary General Dirk Niebel, Bundestag Vice President Hermann Otto Solms, FDP Deputy Caucus Chairperson Birgit Homburger, Lower Saxony Minister for Economics Philipp Roesler, FDP deputy chair Rainer Bruederle, Deputy Minister President for NRW Andreas Pinkwart, Deputy Chairperson Bundestag Education Committee Cornelia Pieper, Bavaria State Chairperson Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.
8. (C//NF) Westerwelle has made the removal of nuclear weapons from Germany one of his flagship issues in the foreign policy arena and has raised this in various fora in the past. It is not clear how hard he will push to have a specific provision on this included in the coalition agreement. Judging by source's description of the discussion, Merkel would rather have a more general provision regarding disarmament included and preferred to avoid prolonged discussion on this issue.
9. (C//NF) The CDU/CSU is the only party that still supports German participation in the NATO nuclear share and the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany. While the CDU/CSU leadership is willing to fight for the current policy, it is concerned that the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review could significantly change U.S. policy on the deployment of non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, putting it at a significant political disadvantage vis-a-vis the rest of the German political establishment. In fact, senior Chancellery officials have already requested that they be pre-notified about any possible change in U.S. policy (ref C). We expect that in these coalition negotiations, the CDU/CSU may hedge their bets against a possible U.S. policy change by agreeing to language that commits the next government to seek consultations on this issue at NATO, with the caveat that any decision must be made by the Alliance as
a whole and must take account of the large number of Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons oriented against NATO member states. Post will seek meetings with source after the plenary negotiation rounds to see if additional readouts are possible.
10. (C//NF) FDP source is a young, up-and-coming party loyalist, who has offered Emboffs internal party documents in the past. Excited with his role as FDP negotiations notetaker, he seemed happy to share his observations and insights and read to us directly from his notes. He also provided copies of documents from his "negotiations" binder. Murphy
<<247061>> 2/3/2010 16:56
10BERLIN153 Embassy Berlin CONFIDENTIAL 09BERLIN1528 VZCZCXYZ0001 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHRL #0153/01 0341656 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 031656Z FEB 10 FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6467 INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY TAGS: PGOV, PREL, EFIN, ECON, GM SUBJECT: DEFLATED EXPECTATIONS FOR MERKEL'S DREAM COALITION REF: 2009 BERLIN 1528
C o n f i d e n t i a l berlin 000153
E.o. 12958: decl: 02/03/2020 Tags: pgov, prel, efin, econ, gm Subject: deflated expectations for merkel's dream coalition after first 100 days
Ref: 2009 berlin 1528
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Delawie for reasons 1.4 (b, d).
1. (C) Summary: One hundred days after Germany's black-yellow coalition took office, a strong, unified government led by Chancellor Merkel has yet to materialize. The much anticipated "dream coalition" comprised of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister the Christian Social Union (CSU), and Free Democratic Party (FDP) which promised a unified conservative approach to the economy and "like minded" thinking on social welfare, the environment, and foreign policy has become bogged down in party politics with no end in sight. Recent polls show that the bickering may be at least partly to blame for the FDP's 5.6 percent fall in the polls, with it now down to 9 percent from its historic 14.6 percent election results (see septel) and the CSU plummet to an historic low of 41 percent. Indeed one minister is now threatening resignation. Sources from the three coalition parties have admitted to problems, blaming the other coalition parties, and downplaying their significance. Merkel has come under criticism within her own party for not taking strong public stands and reining in her coalition partners, instead staying above the political fray. The opposition, particularly the Social Democratic Party (SPD), is trying to capitalize on this "divided we rule" coalition with an eye toward unseating a teetering CDU-FDP coalition in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) in May elections, thereby tipping the CDU-FDP Bundesrat majority in its favor. Merkel is counting on better economic and political indicators after the NRW election followed by the release of the annual tax forecasts to congeal the coalition. If the CDU/FDP coalition fails in NRW, coalition divisions are likely to become more pronounced. End Summary.
Off to a Rocky Start --------------------
2. (C) Concluding a coalition agreement in only three weeks, prior to her November 2 departure for Washington to address Congress and in time for the 9 November 20 year anniversary of German unity may have been Chancellor Merkel's first and only major success to date in marshaling coalition unity. But the feat may have had consequences. The haste to sign has left half-resolved differences on tax cuts, economic policy, Afghanistan, Turkey, health care, data protection (see reftel) and other issues that continue to gurgle to the surface. Important to recognize is that each party is operating under its own political pressures from different voting constituencies. The FDP's main goal is to deliver on campaign promises -- particularly tax relief -- and shore up its base, the CSU is desperate to regain its dominance in Bavaria, and the CDU is seeking to rebuild its eroded voter base. All three parties and the opposition are now gearing up for May 9 elections in NRW. This election in Germany's most populous state, referred to as a "small national election," is regarded as a partial vote of confidence on the national coalition, and will determine the Bundesrat majority. If the NRW CDU-FDP coalition fails to return to government, the national CDU-FDP coalition will fall by six seats in the Bundesrat -- from 37 to 31 seats -- it will lose its majority. Such a loss could well hamper the government's ability to pass major financial or economic legislation.
3. (C) Each of the three coalition parties have pointed to the others for instigating tension. CDU party contact XXXXX accused the FDP of functioning as if it were still in the opposition. Senior SPD parliamentarian Hans-Ulrich Klose attributed the coalition strains to the FDP adjusting to being in government after 11 years in the opposition. FDP contact XXXXX accused the CDU/CSU of reacting to their own internal problems: for the CDU, its controversy over the Kunduz airstrike, and for the CSU, its involvement in a major bank scandal. The FDP also points to the CSU's strong rivalry with the FDP, with which it now governs in Bavaria. The CSU is still trying to recover from its historic low voting results in the September 2008 state elections, which forced it for the first time in 46 years to govern within a coalition. All parties, however, have downplayed the significance of the feuds, with senior CDU party operative XXXXX explaining in January that the party leaderships are just now settling in after an exhausting election campaign and intense coalition negotiations. He hoped (more than predicted) that the parties would soon settle into a more cooperative relationship. In January, Merkel called a small summit for coalition leadership with Westerwelle and Seehofer to smooth things over and commit to a new beginning. While the coalition's political edginess receded for a time, policy divisions continue to surface.
CDU/CSU vs FDP -- the Economy -----------------------------
4. (C) While CDU/CSU and FDP voters may be the most likely to cross over to the other party, their mainstay voter bases are different, with the CDU/CSU appealing to economically conservative voters who also support the social market economy, but are socially conservative. The FDP base is composed of free-market advocates, who are socially liberal and strong advocates of civil liberties. The FDP's campaign and continuing mantra has been for much larger tax cuts in 2011, worth 20-24 billion euros, apparently at the expense of both coalition unity and the better judgment of economic experts. The cuts would make getting the deficit back under the EU ceiling of 3 percent of GDP by 2013 nearly impossible. National debt will rise from 66 percent of GDP to 80 percent. There are growing public concerns over rising debt, but also about perceived disarray in the coalition's tax and budget policies. Merkel insists that a decision regarding the tax reduction plans will not be taken before May, when the overall tax revenue forecast is due. Waiting until May also means the coalition will not have to go public with unpopular consolidation measures until after the NRW elections. Finance Minister Schaeuble (CDU) appears unenthusiastic at best about further tax cuts. He has already said deficit reduction measures would have to start in 2011. The CSU has also called the FDP's call for speedy tax relief measures "unrealistic" despite the fact that it had included such a demand during its election campaign. The most recent squabble between the FDP and CSU is over FDP Health Minister Roesler's plans for health care reform which foresees more care options and the introduction of competition. Seehofer has rejected the proposal, holding fast against radical changes to the system. Roesler has indicated he might resign over this issue.
Foreign Policy --------------
5. (C) Coalition feuding over economic and tax policy has trumped coalition divisions over foreign policy, although FM Westerwelle has managed a few disruptions in the latter. As a harbinger of hard times to come, as one of his first actions, Westerwelle opposed the naming of CDU Bundestag member Erika Steinbach to the foundation "Flight Expulsion and Reconciliation" citing possible damage to relations with Poland. As President of Germany's Federation of Expellees, Steinbach is disliked in Poland. While the numbers are disputed, the expellee community, which mainly votes CSU or CDU, has exerted influence on the issue. National and State CDU and CSU politicians came out in support of Steinbach with only Merkel keeping mum. The controversy continues, despite ongoing attempts to reach a compromise, threatening to drain coalition attention and good-will.
6. (C) Coalition strains have also surfaced on the issue of overseas deployments. Regarding a troop increase in Afghanistan, Westerwelle's position was at first muddled, as he tried to reflect his party's general negativity toward overseas military deployments while at the same time tending to his role as Germany's chief diplomat in the run-up to the London Conference. In the end, he (together with the opposition) likely played a role in achieving a lower-than-expected troop increase. Westerwelle also convinced the CDU to agree on gradually reducing German participation in UNIFIL. The CSU also rocked the coalition boat on Afghanistan, with Seehofer expressing general skepticism on a troop increase, although he later came around. In addition, CSU Secretary General Dobrindt has ridiculed the federal government's reconciliation concept in Afghanistan as a "cash for clunkers version for the Taliban."
7. (C) Chancellor Merkel may have ironically cast off the yoke of the Grand Coalition only now to be encumbered with a new FDP-CSU double yoke, restrained by an FDP bent on delivering on campaign promises and a CSU distracted over its rivalry with the FDP and internal problems. High expectations for the "dream coalition" are certainly in part to blame for the current polls, with popularity numbers for Merkel and Westerwelle both having suffered. Worried most, however, are the CDU and FDP politicians in NRW, who fear that the national coalition's squabbling could negatively impact their own chances in the May 9 elections. The leadership threesome -- Merkel, Westerwelle, and Seehofer -- may make an extra effort to get along, or at least appear to get along, as the NRW elections near. It is not clear that Westerwelle and the FDP, however, believe that it is the squabbling that is unhelpful, or rather its own inability to
deliver as yet on certain campaign promises. If it is the latter, more coalition tensions could ensue as Westerwelle begins to expend more energy as FDP Chairman and less as Foreign Minister, gearing up his party for its NRW campaign. Berlin is once again becoming bogged down in political squabbles as the NRW elections near.
8. (U) Consulate Munich contributed to this cable.
Murphy rechtfertigt im Interview mit dem SPIEGEL die Berichte als normale diplomatische Arbeit: "Wir reden mit Leuten, man lernt sich kennen, man vertraut sich, man teilt Einschätzungen". Er sei "unglaublich wütend" auf denjenigen, der das Material heruntergeladen habe. Seine Leute hätten "nichts falsch gemacht", so Murphy, "und ich werde mich für nichts entschuldigen, das sie gemacht haben".
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