GlobalPost, October 19, 2012
BERLIN, Germany — When the collapse of Lehman Brothers threatened to set off a global depression in 2008, Peer Steinbrueck stood shoulder to shoulder with Chancellor Angela Merkel to steer his country through the financial crisis.
The economy performed remarkably well. Although its growth is slowing, Germany’s boom helped make Merkel hugely popular.
Now the former finance minister who was once her right-hand man has a new challenge: to unseat Merkel in an election next year.
Although he faces a tough campaign, he may have a shot. Even though the chancellor’s approval ratings remain high, the complexities of Germany’s political system mean there’s no guarantee she’ll be able to form a government in 2013.
A member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) who was granted his ministerial post as part of a grand coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Steinbrueck has since emerged as someone who can pose Merkel a serious threat.
Many Germans see him as a safe pair of hands and a very competent crisis manager who helped overcome the financial crisis by introducing a stimulus package and recapitalizing banks. Continue reading