And now for a post I hadn’t planned to write this week. In a shocking turn of events that no one saw coming (ahem) German President, Christian Wulff (CDU), resigned at 11:00 this morning.
A quick explanation for my non-German readers: In the US, our president is both head of government and head of state. (He also has 4 other roles, but I forget what they all are. Check your 9th-grade Civics notes.) In Germany, the Chancellor (Angela Merkel) is the head of government, and therefore has all the power. The German president is head of state, and has more of a symbolic, quasi-fatherly role. That’s why you’ve never heard of him. Apparently, he or she is supposed to serve as a kind of moral compass for the country.
Wulff was the former Ministerpräsident (governor) of Niedersachsen, and had been president for just about two years. Over the last few months, there have been investigations into loans and various gifts he’d received and not disclosed during his political career. Some say he’s the victim of a media-driven witch hunt, while others are saying he should have resigned months ago. Honestly, as an outsider, I don’t have much of an opinion, but I am shocked at the number of people who seem surprised and disappointed that a politician had done something corrupt/illegal/unethical/immoral. Maybe cynicism is less German than I had thought.
What does this have to do with Carneval? I would estimate that about half of the parade floats were politically-themed, which meant that Herr Wulff made an appearance in this year’s parade:
Miraculously, the Wikipedia page that explains the German presidency has already been updated to reflect the current state of things. It should be interesting to watch Merkel and the Bundestag scramble to get things back in order in the coming weeks. Luckily there’s nothing else going on for them to worry about.
Other potentially useful links:
- Spiegel-Online (lots of videos)
- Die Tageszeitung discusses 5 potential replacements
- Deutsche Welle
- ARD Tagesschau
And for those of you who don’t “sprechen ze Deutscch”