24 NOVEMBER 1961, Page 5

The Intriguers



AN unspoken question was in almost every A mind in the Bundestag as the new govern- ment was sworn in what had the long, bitter and humiliating intrigue over the new West German Cabinet brought in solid results? The answer: almost nothing. The junior partner in the new coalition has five Ministers for its sixty-seven MPs, not one of whom was elected in his ,own right but all on the 'Second List'; that is, on pro- portional representation. But the Cabinet has also been increased by two further members to keep the balance; a woman for the first time, Frau Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt (National Health), and a Minister without Portfolio, Adenauer's loyal old friend and party manager, Heinrich Krone. And the new FDP post of Minister of Economic Cooperation, which was to have been a rival shop to Erhard's Economic Ministry, is occupied by Walter Scheel, who has already shown distinct signs of coming under the influence of the eco- nomic genius Erhard. Erhard is not such a poor politician as his intimate enemy Adenauer would like the public to believe.

All the various groups, too, who were trying to oust the Chancellor are now marked men; their misdeeds known to the old autocrat and stored away in his capacious and unforgiving memory. Defence Minister Strauss made a 'Secret' pact with the leader of the Free Democrats before the election to carve the cake anew; and though he failed to oust Adenauer, he succeeded in his other favourite scheme to get rid of the Chancel- lor's loyal aide at the Foreign Office. But when von Brentano did go, Strauss was no nearer his real goal (always visible through his frequent assertions that he would not leave the Defence Ministry); for the Chancellor's young man, Ger- hard Schroeder, got the job; and though Schroeder is not unfriendly to the Free Demo- crats, he does not care too much for Strauss. A small gain there for the Free Democrats, perhaps, but a loss for their best friend Strauss and a source of future suspicions between the 'secret' allies.

Eugen Gerstenmaier, too, re-elected President (Speaker) of the Bundestag once again, is openly apposed to his own party leader Adenauer; he left the Parliamentary Party meeting with Economics Minister Erhard before the roll was called for agreement to the coalition. Erhard himself, the greatest single asset of the Christian Democratic Union, is now openly and implacably hostile to his old chief. When he threatened to resign over the new Ministry of Economic Cooperation (to be chiefly concerned with foreign aid). Adenauer persuaded him to think again by assuring 'him that 'he respected Erhard's views on the subject'; yet an hour or so later the Ministry was definitely promised to the Free Democrats. By then it was too late for Erhard to carry out his threat and upset the new government—he had waited too long. He stayed in the Cabinet, but it is not likely he will forgive this last piece of double-dealing from the Chancellor.

Then there is the Left wing of the Christian Democrats, formed by the Catholic trade unions under their teader, Katzer. Katzer has real power with the working-class conservative vote; he is also known to be on a footing of cautious com- radeship with the Socialist trade union leaders, with whom his group voted in the old parliament against his own party on several industrial bills; and he is both angry and worried by the big- industrialist and anti-trade-union policies of the Free Democrats. Katzer and his friends are also against the new trend in foreign aid policy; the Free Democrats want to make foreign aid to Africa and Asia a matter of commerce, rather than concentrate on long-term infra-structure and education which raise no dividends in the immediate future for heavy industry.

'Outside the tightly smiling bunch'of coalition partners, barely able to conceal their inner dis- likes and disagreements in public, there is trouble ahead for the new Cabinet on two counts. The Socialist opposition will certainly attack the coalition agreement on constitutional grounds, a:t attack in which they will have much secret sympathy and perhaps even help from inside the government ranks (it was CDU man Gersten- maier who leaked the secret document to the press). The President of the Federal Republic was known to favour an all-party coalition to face the coming crisis'of national confidence if and when there is a showdown over Berlin and East Germany; he is also known to have been disgusted and angered by the low standards of personal behaviour and public responsibility with which the long coalition wrangle was conducted, and his personal relationship with Chancellor Adenauer has been much changed by the experi- ence of the last two months. Though he was a member of the Chancellor's party before he be- came President, and though he owes the Presi- dency to Adenauer, his actions in future will be free from any old loyalty he may have felt in the past.

Finally, Erich Mende, the leader of the Free Democrats—who became a key figure when the general election took away the Christian Demo- crats' total majority—has since completely dis- credited himself by a combination of personal vanity, irresponsibility and lack of political skill which has thrown away every card he had in his hand in his dealings with the old Chancellor. The notorious coalition agreement is certainly going to collapse; Adenauer will not keep it, even if it is not declared unconstitutional. Mende has done his own career and his party's future a good deal of harm; nobody in Germany now thinks of him as future statesman material—probably not even himself. He has shut himself out of the new Cabinet, and the coalition committee which he hoped to use as his outside lever against Adenauer in the Cabinet is exactly the set-up that favours the Chancellor's political gifts; for committee manoeuvring has always been his outstanding talent.

and South 'The trouble, my dear Manley, is that we can't differentiate between North Irishmen, they all look alike to us.'