Franz Müntefering, the socialist Employment minister and Vice Chancellor in Angela Merkel's coalition, has resigned to look after his wife who has cancer.
Müntefering has long been a bugbear of this blog's, mainly because of his posturing in Chancellor Schroeder's terrible government. Fulminating against the locusts of international capitalism (as was that government's wont), "Münte" blamed Jewish businessmen for Germany's economic woes. He might more usefully have looked at his own government's woeful 9 year record. Working with Chancellor Merkel has calmed him down as he has mediated between Merkel's centre-left CDU and his own socialist SPD parties. In comparison with the latter "Münte" almost resembles a man of reason, rather than the demagogue of limited brain he is.
Recently he was humiliated by his party's leader, a brutish, bearded mediocrity called Kurt Beck, in an arcane dispute about unemployment payments. Beck needed to improve his own profile within the party. He did so with a display of hard-left socialist rhetoric at Müntefering's expense. Now "Münte's" stepping down will give him a measure of revenge.
Müntefering's departure will destabilise the coalition. This could be good news for Angela Merkel, who leads in the polls, mainly because of her personal popularity. An election called soon would mean the end of this hopeless government, and a probable return to power for Merkel's CDU, supported by the centre-right FDP party.
For all the praise being heaped on "Münte" as he departs, this would be his only worthwhile legacy.