We have good news for those of you who do business with/in the Bundesrepublik: Angela Merkel is going to be re-elected.
We know that she's no Paul Ryan, but compared to her opponent in September's German parliamentary elections, she's the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Happily for those who care, the German Socialists (can you believe they actually have a party that puts that word in their name?) have nominated for the Chancellery Peer Steinbrück, a man whose never run in an election he didn't lose and whose suave handling of matters during his time as Merkel's finance minister ensured that Europe's approach to financial matters did not quite merit the lofty title of final solution.
For while Steinbrück did not coin the loving term "locusts" for hedge funds and private equity firms—the last man to lead the SPD to defeat at Merkel's hands, Franz Müntefering, did—he certainly did his level best to extirpate the capitalist demon during his four years at Berlin's FinMin. But fear not, the media assures. Not only is he 10 points back in the polls, but:
His campaign got off to a dreadful start in October and he initially lost poll support with his abrasive style and the row over his speaking engagements. Especially disliked by women voters, he spent months defending himself for high earnings.
A November ARD TV poll showed only 30 percent of Germans find Steinbrueck likeable, down 7 points since September, while Merkel's rating rose 9 points to 51. He fell three pegs to be ranked the country's sixth most popular politician.
So get ready for another three-to-five years of Silvio Berlusconi's former lover. And, with any luck, Silvio himself.
Germany's SPD names former finance minister as Merkel challenger [Reuters]
Merkel's Rival Steinbrück Leaves Female Voters Cool [WSJ]
Disgraced Silvio Berlusconi confirms he will stand for Italian Prime Minister again [DM]