Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The rising star of German conservatives - the thoroughly mediocre Mr. Spahn

"The Germans have become sated"*, the title of an interview with Christian Democrat Jens Spahn encapsulates almost all you need to know about the much praised young conservative member of Angela Merkel's party.

Mr. Spahn has been pushed as the "up and coming" man of the Christian Democrats for some time now, with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) doing the cheerleading. He went into politics early and became the youngest member of Germany's federal parliament at age 22, one year after he finished an apprenticeship at a bank.

He became a parliamentary secretary in the finance ministry of feared budget austerity master Schaeuble, and it is safe to say that Mr. Spahn will become a household name beyond Germany soon.

Spahn just received a huge boost when the Davos World Ecomomics Forum made him a member of its coveted "Young Global Leaders" program.

Since the blogster will never enjoy membership in this exclusive club, or in a far less exclusive one, so feel free to assume envy - which is something conservatives and the wealthy (which are almost always conservatives) love to ascribe to others. The article on the Young Global Leaders program in FAZ is a wonderful description of life as a YPL'er and the perks that come with it.

Closer to home, in the interview in FAZ, his main policies once again show in statements calling for lower taxes, less regulation of the economy and - his signature policy - support for same sex couples.

His activities in the latter area, crucial to him because of his personal status, also indicate what his often praised "rebellious streak" is all about: at the end of the day, he toed the party line. For German lesbians and gays, this means they were granted "civil unions" but no marriage.

Spahn's positions on anything from the economy (neo-liberal) to dual citizenship (not a fan) have put him firmly in the conservative corner in German politics.

But, as this recent article in FAZ describes it, there is an upside to being Spahn: Being gay, perceived by Spahn initially as a handicap, absolves him from being labeled an outright reactionary. Of course, the article fails to mention that sexual orientation has nothing to do with your political views. After all, many members of a well known German party organization were both very gay and very genocidal.

This recent article does point out the relevance of being young in government today. Austria's foreign minister is in his mid thirties, and Mr. Macron famously won the French presidency just shy of 40 years old.

Barring a huge scandal, it might be a good idea to read up on Mr. Spahn's biography on Wikipedia (English).

You can then promptly forget all about him.

Because he will be back in the limelight.

[Update 5/30/2017] That was fast. Another interview with the starlet, this one in ZEIT.

[Update 8/24/2017] And 'ere we go again: Mr. S.  is lashing out at cafes in Berlin where the wait staff speaks only English.To the blogster, getting what it**: orders is more important than speaking German.

*„Die Deutschen sind satt geworden“ 
** Dass Spahn mit einem Mann im Berliner Szenebezirk Schöneberg zusammenlebt, erleichtert ihm die Sache ungemein, auch wenn er es zu Beginn seiner Karriere für ein Handicap hielt. Von dem Verdacht, in Wahrheit nur ein reaktionäres Gesellschaftsbild zu propagieren, spricht es ihn frei.

*** Gender neutral version. 

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