June 02, 2005

Red-Greens Pull Plug on Visa Inquiry

The German Visa Inquiry Committee (Visa-Untersuchungsausschuss) has been dissolved by the Social Democrats and Greens over the objections of the Unions and Free Democrats. The Red-Greens had been embarrassed in general, and Green Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in particular, when it was discovered that a lax visa policy through German consulates had allowed hundred of thousands of people to enter germany illegally - including foreign workers, captive prostitutes and two alleged terrorists.

With the election coming up in autumn, the Red-Greens said that they needed to wrap up the committee and proceed to reporting phases so that a law could come of it. The Black-Yellow opposition wanted to continue going through the witnesses list, including an anticipated hearing from Interior Minister Otto Schily.

Obviously the ruling coalition benefits from a speedy end to airing of its mistakes and the opposition coalition benefits from a thorough and lengthy airing of the mistakes. This scandal has been something of a problem for Fischer, formerly one of Germany's most popular politicians.

The wider question of the German elections is who's going to win. The red-green alliance was on borrowed time by the 2002 electionr esults, which were won largely by running a bash-American campaign. The turnout of Nordrhein-Westfalen and a stunning defeat for the last provinical red-green coalition forced these early elections. Of course, the election is going to ask Germans, including the Conservative Bavarian base, to vote for a female East European for Chancellor (Angela Merkl, CDU) and a gay Protestant for Foreign Minister (Guido Westerwelle, FDP). That might be too much for conservative Catholics in Bavaria.

Either way, I think it's an interesting election coming up, one in which the SDP and Greens are likely to lose both seats and government.

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