Guido Westerwelle at the “Dreikönigstreffen”. Photo: Daniel Kopatsch/ dapd.
Welcome to the new year. For Guido Westerwelle, the head of the FDP political party and vice chancellor in the center-right coalition government, it may be the worst year of his career. For those of you who aren’t familiar with his political style: he is an idiot. Put a rabid monkey in a suit and I imagine he (or she) would have at least the same effect on the German political landscape, but with half the corruption and broken promises.
Now, I’m not saying I could do much better, but that’s exactly why I’m not in politics! Not only has he been favouritist (by bringing his boyfriend on foreign trips to make business deals), corrupt (reducing tax for hotels – whilst receiving €1.1m from a hotel chain) but also insulting (basically accusing people on social welfare of ‘decadence’, on their €359 a month – forgetting that those receiving Harz IV are voters too) and despised (by a US ambassador, who called him “arrogant” and “vain”).
And his English is terrible – I mean, sure, you can’t be expected to speak every language fluently, but as the foreign minister for one of the most influential countries internationally, in a world where the key diplomatic language is English, you would expect him to come up with something better than
the Aufschwung is da.
My advice (which, admittedly, no-one asked for, but here it is anyway) would be: shut your mouth, step down as party chairman and let someone competent take over. Your political mistakes are ruining the careers of your fellow politicians who would love to get in power but won’t get the chance because you’re unable to fight the tide of unpopularity.
You had your chance, you made one mistake after another.
So, on this note, we come to see Guido’s fight for political survival – Thursday’s party conference speech, where he called for his party to measure their opinions not on polls but “by our ideals, our convictions, our values.” This was to me the ultimate confirmation of everything which people dislike about the man in charge of the FDP. He doesn’t know how to communicate. Waving your arms around and shouting does not equal passion, does not make people think ‘wow, he’s really fighting for our interests’. It makes him seem unprofessional and without control over his emotions. Sure he pressed the usual polemical rhetoric, he touched neatly upon the relevant subjects… but as the Spiegel reporter Roland Nelles put it, his speech basically consisted of the argument:
Everyone else is stupid, but not me!
I think the public are far less passive and easily influenced than he seems to take them for. After one political disappointment after another, according to recent survey results, people are starting to judge the vice chancellor by his deeds, not his words.