Ger­man elec­tions – The Dok­tor is out

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Ger­man elec­tions are over, and for a brief mo­ment, it looks like all is sta­ble. But make no mis­take, this is only the eye of the storm. I have full con­fi­dence that Ger­many has al­ready shifted away from the cur­rent lead­er­ship. In a sig­nif­i­cant rejection of per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity, Dr. An­gela Merkel, the Chan­cel­lor states that she has done noth­ing wrong. But many things haven’t gone right ei­ther. So­ci­ety and its prob­lem­at­ics around the world have moved on, cir­cum­vent­ing tra­di­tional pol­i­tics and politi­cians.

From a long term an­a­lyt­i­cal busi­ness per­spec­tive, pol­i­tics re­quires a new di­rec­tion. The power par­ties may el­e­gantly gloss over los­ing ten per­cent­age points. They talk about how the vot­ers have made a mis­take, how one will un­der­mine the com­pe­ti­tion, how all it takes are bet­ter ex­pla­na­tions, and how all these in­equities will be rec­ti­fied shortly. How wrong they are!

Per­cep­tions change. Re­search by Min­tel re­ports that many con­sumers now judge soap bars to be a haven for bac­te­ria. Our work, which sys­tem­at­i­cally tracks busi­ness be­hav­iour and ex­pec­ta­tions over the past 30 years, in­di­cates new core val­ues. Tra­di­tional di­men­sions of pol­i­tics and in­di­vid­u­als have four key di­men­sions – the four legs of the di­rec­tor’s stool.

First is ‘com­pe­ti­tion’ which de­ter­mines the ap­proach to progress – one party achieves ‘the win­ner takes all’, oth­ers meekly fall in line for the drop­pings from the ta­ble. Sec­ond is the es­tab­lish­ment and man­age­ment of ‘risk’ where steely nerves and oc­ca­sional dis­as­ters de­ter­mine life­style. Then comes ‘profit’ which ac­counts for suc­cess in tan­gi­ble form. Fi­nally, the fourth leg of the stool is ‘prop­erty rights’, which as­sure in­no­va­tors of their re­turn on in­vest­ments. There now is a si­mul­ta­ne­ous splin­ter­ing of all four legs which in­hibits suc­cess­ful con­duct of di­rec­tion.

The new chair has a new set of four legs which are cru­cial in un­der­stand­ing so­ci­ety.

First is ‘truth­ful­ness’. Firms and vot­ers de­test fake news, in­sin­cere ex­cuses and un­re­flected com­ments. When the shad­ows of un­re­al­ity ob­scure one’s out­look, ex­posed peo­ple ex­tract a penalty. Sec­ond is ‘sim­plic­ity’. Em­ploy­ees and cit­i­zens want to un­der­stand how things and re­la­tion­ships work and in­ter­act. With­out that, it is hard to pro­vide or ac­cept truth­ful­ness. Then there is ‘par­tic­i­pa­tion’, per­mit­ting in­sight be­yond sim­ple ob­ser­va­tion and of­fer­ing an ac­tive role in shap­ing the con­di­tions which con­front one’s life. The fourth leg is ‘re­spon­si­bil­ity’ – go­ing far be­yond cus­tom­ary short mem­o­ries and the tra­di­tional plead­ing of ig­no­rance. The new drive says: we are here and, if not, we are com­ing.

Just as in Amer­ica, Euro­pean vot­ers are be­gin­ning to be en­er­gised by the new di­rec­tor’s chair and its new cri­te­ria. They ex­pect new di­rec­tions and negate tra­di­tion. Judg­ing by shifts in Bri­tain and Spain, sta­bil­ity in Ger­many may not be that fre­quent, that as­sured and that nec­es­sary any­more. It’s also not just the money or even eco­nomic growth that mat­ter most. Known quan­tity may give way to even more qual­ity and a rise of lo­cal cri­te­ria.

“Merkel­tin­ism” will be sub­sti­tuted by Mer­can­til­ism. Ger­man eco­nomic power may be re­pulsed by re­gions seek­ing to re­gain their cul­tural self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. The U.S. em­pha­sis on re-shoring, en­hanc­ing and en­cour­ag­ing of lo­cal pro­duc­tion is likely a por­tent of the new Europe, which per­haps re­duces Ger­many from the Ex­port King to a mere Prince. More ex­port sup­port­ing banks will per­me­ate Europe, ac­com­pa­nied by in­creases in pro­tec­tion­ism. There are still many op­tions for tar­iff and non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers. Within, but par­tic­u­larly out­side of the EU, one can ex­pect grow­ing re­stric­tions in both cap­i­tal and labour flows and a rise of sanc­tions. Vested in­ter­ests will be­come more vis­i­ble, and pro­vide new de­ci­sion frame­works.

All that re­quires a new team. Low pro­file politi­cians will in­ex­orably move onto the new pedestal. An­dreas Pinkwart (FDP) and Karl-Theodor zu Gut­ten­berg (CSU/CSIS) are two who get it.

Robert Zim­mer­man (Bob Dy­lan) may have writ­ten the song half a cen­tury ago, but now more than ever we get key guid­ance from “the times they are a chang­ing”. The change is with us al­ready – the new di­rec­tor’s chair will give us new rules of suc­cess and new directors.

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