Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Two years ago Sigmar Gabriel came into the Reuters office in Berlin for an interview about climate change, the environment, renewable energy policies and the state of his Social Democrats.
The burly minister, who was elected leader of Germany’s struggling centre-left SPD party on Friday, had clearly lost weight on his summer holiday that had just ended so, while my colleagues were still streaming into the conference room, I asked: “You’ve lost some weight, haven’t you?”
Gabriel smiled briefly. Colleagues later told me they were horrified that I had asked him about his weight. It was merely an attempt to break the ice. There was, after all, another German political leader a few years ago who was once even heavier and lost more than 50 kg with an intensive jogging and diet programme that began one summer: Joschka Fischer of the Greens.
“Yeah, I did,” Gabriel said. “I got some exercise on my holiday. But I won’t be able to keep it off if people keep putting things like this in front of me like you’ve done here,” he added with a laugh as he munched on some cookies.
Germans have voted for change. A centre-right government with a clear parliamentary majority will replace the ungainly grand coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats that ran Europe's biggest economy for the last four years.
This should mean an end to "steady as she goes" lowest common denominator policies, and at least some reform of the country's tax and welfare system. The liberal Free Democrats, who recorded their best ever result with around 14.7 percent, will try to pull the new government towards tax cuts, health care reform, a reduction in welfare spending and a loosening of job protection in small business.
Welcome to the live blog of the German election, a showdown between Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (right). More than 50 Reuters correspondents, photographers and television crews in Berlin and across Germany will be tracking the story throughout the weekend.
And in this box you will be able to follow the latest twists and turns throughout the weekend. We’re using #germanelection as the hashtag if you want to follow us on Twitter.
from The Great Debate UK:
Has this been dullest German election campaign in decades or the most exciting? Has the battle for power in Berlin between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that concludes with Sunday's election been a memorable showdown or a forgettably boring contest?
Many journalists, pundits and voters have complained it's all been a merciless bore compared to the high-octane battles of the past with little action and precious few highlights.