I enjoyed also watching the Kanzlerin cheering in the stands too.James Forsyth over at Passport brings on the real point, by asking
why on earth did the Argentine coach take out his most dangerous player, Riquelme?and taking a look behind the curtain of the boozed, flag-waving, car horn nation, which happens to be "my country":
But the more FP point I want to make is that Angela Merkel is as much a winner as the German team. Not only is Merkel getting great publicity with every Germany game (the TV cuts to her even more than it does to Posh Spice aka Mrs Beckham during England games), but she is also using the tournament to push through a series of controversial measures. The Times of London had a great article a few days ago about all the bills that Merkel is sneaking through while the public is captivated by the heroics of Ballack, Lehman[n] et al.A quote from the above mentioned Times article (Merkel makes hay while Germans watch the play):
Political conflicts have barely flickered on to German television screens. The Upper House of parliament reluctantly gave the go-ahead to a 3 per cent increase in VAT last Friday — with some heavy-hitting regional barons voting against or abstaining. Normally there would have been a nationwide howl of protest — indeed, the mass circulation Bild called it the “biggest single tax rise in German history” — but the critical article, as Frau Merkel, the Chancellor, had calculated, was buried under a mountain of stories on the German football team. The big tabloid revolt fizzled out.
Little wonder, then, that ministers are now required to meet in the Chancellery every Sunday until the end of the World Cup to fine-tune other unpopular Bills that will quickly canter through parliament. Three key pieces of legislation are supposed to be wrapped up before the World Cup final on July 9.
Let's have a look at those key pieces:
First, a reform of the system redistributing power between central government and the regions.
The German parliament voted Friday to overhaul the federal system of government, marking the broadest change to the constitution since 1949 with what has been billed "the mother of all reforms".
Next key piece, please:
Second, the essentials of the health reform, a source of deep conflict between the governing partners, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, must be agreed before July.Not settled yet (my emphasis):
The rest of the article is insightful as well! For more information about the German health care system, see:
Merkel changing her tune on taxes
Eight months into her term as chancellor, Angela Merkel is on the verge of raising taxes for the second time, in this case for a vast and bureaucratic health care system.
The proposal by her coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats envisions an expansion of the system to cover children that could cost taxpayers from €16 billion to €25 billion, or $20 billion to $31 billion.
Merkel came to office promising to cut taxes, reduce bureaucracy, and encourage competition and transparency.
But after spending several Sunday nights closeted in the chancellery with health experts from her conservative union and the Social Democrats, a plan is in the works that seems likely to create more bureaucracy at a higher cost to the government.
The decision has the makings of "bureaucratic monster," and an expensive one at that, said Winfried Fuest, economics professor at the Institute for the German Economy in Cologne.
Germany is beset by spiraling costs for medication, a declining birth rate and an aging population. All that is adding pressure on the health care system that insures 90 percent of German adults through 250 health care insurance companies, a system that eats up money with little accountability.
"There is absolutely no transparency in the way doctors charge patients in the public health system," said Fuest, whose institute is one of five economic research centers that advise the government. Nor is there transparency in the ties between drug companies and the doctors, he added.
Patients in the public system do not receive bills. Instead, the doctor is reimbursed through the patient's public insurance company. Conversely, in the private health insurance system, patients receive a bill that meticulously records the cost of each treatment.
But under the plan being fashioned, analysts say it is unlikely that the public health system will become more transparent and subject to competition.
German University Clinic Doctors End Strike, New One Loomsand
After a three-month health care workers' strike, university clinics in North Rhine-Westfalia resumed normal business on Monday. However, doctors at municipal hospitals are threatening to walk out.
Lid Lifted on Corrupt German Health ServiceFinally, the third key piece as mentioned in the Times article:
In its annual corruption report, Transparency International estimates that corruption costs Germany's healthcare system between 8 and 24 billion euros ($10 and 30 billion) a year.
Third, the 2007 Budget has to be passed through parliament. At present it looks as if the extra VAT revenues will be largely swallowed up by the extra cost of labour reforms.Labor reforms? What labor reforms? Oooooh, maybe that one:
SPD admits naivety in German labour reformsI'm sorry but I can't enjoy cheering soccer babe Angie. Her "Iron Lady reloaded" reputation and her approval rates, skyrocketing like welfare costs, are as undeserved as Germany's victory against the best soccer team of this world cup. I cry for you, Argentina!
Germany's Social Democrats yesterday admitted their landmark reform of long-term unemployment payments was poorly designed and acknowledged their naivety when they introduced the scheme that has since sent welfare costs skyrocketing.