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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A gay politician who defies gay political stereotypes

Guido Westerwelle (pictured on the right), the openly gay leader of Germany's Free Democratic Party and the junior partner in a coalition with Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, is rumoured to be Germany's next Foreign Minister.

Gay politicians are not that unusual anymore, but what is unusual about Westerwelle is that he defies gay political stereotypes. Westerwelle is described by the Telegraph as (gasp) an "arch-Thatcherite" who

led his pro-business Free Democrats to their best result ever with acerbic attacks on the welfare state and trade unions – which he called a "plague on our country".

As a partner in the ruling coalition, his party will have considerable influence in the new German government:

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and Bavarian allies survived the vote with a clipped mandate. She will have to give ground to Mr Westerwelle in the Centre-Right coalition as he presses for his great shrinkage of Germany's Leviathan state – tax cuts, spending cuts, subsidy cuts, labour reform, and emasculation of the state Landesbanken – whatever her own preference for playing the consensual role of national "Mutti" (Mum).

"German policies will likely shift towards a pro-growth agenda: this is a significant positive for German equities," said Holger Schmieding from Bank of America.

Westerwelle is openly gay and campaigned with his partner, Michael Mronz, and yet he does not view politics exclusively through a gay lens. This story from AP notes:

Guido Westerwelle and his gay partner are Germany's new "power couple" — at least according to the nation's leading daily, which splashed a photo of the pair hugging on election night on the front-page above the fold in Tuesday's paper.

The ringing endorsement for the 47-year-old Westerwelle, who is widely expected to be tapped for the high-profile post of foreign minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's new government, in the Bild daily also highlighted his personal life in a way he rarely has.

"His man makes him so strong," Bild wrote about Westerwelle, declaring that his 42-year-old partner Michael Mronz was not only his most important adviser during the campaign, but also "gives him security and ... supports him when he suffers a setback."

Despite eight years as leader of the pro-business Free Democrats, Westerwelle's homosexuality has generated relatively little discussion. But with his party set to become kingmaker to Chancellor Merkel's conservatives and him foreign minister, it has been thrust into the spotlight


While Westerwelle's certainly no gay activist, he has said before that his lifestyle may be "encouraging for some young gays."

"I can only tell all young gays and lesbians to not be disheartened, if not everything goes their way," Westerwelle told the Berlin's gay magazine Siegessaeule this month. "This society is changing for the good in the direction of tolerance and respect ... though slower than I would wish."

Westerwelle has been known to be gay since 2004, when he brought his partner to Merkel's 50th birthday party.

"I've never been hiding my life," Westerwelle said back then. "I just lived it."

Wow. An openly gay foreign minister of a G8 country who's a small-government tax-cutting labour-reforming Thatcherite. This is going to be interesting.

1 comment:

Jan Merkel (not related to A. Merkel) said...

What is interesting about it? I'm also openly gay, pro-business and German. His and my sexuality has nothing to do with economic believes. Your position, i think, is t much focused on UK or US politics, with a liberal and likely socialist left and a fiscal ans social conservative right. Germanys political culture is different: We have a pro business, social conservative party (CDU/CSU) a socialist and social-liberal block (SPD/Greens/Leftparty) and a pro business, social-liberal party: Westerwelles FDP.
It workes out perfectly, for years now ;)