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People and Politics Forum 17. 10. 2008

"How good are politicians at crisis management?"

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More information:

Crisis Management - Chancellor Merkel passes the confidence test

Angela Merkel was initially skecptical about a joint European solution to the global financial crisis. But at the weekend the Chancellor demonstrated her determination and her crisis management skills. She is now willing fast-track 400 billion euros from the state coffers as a rescue package for the banking sector. Merkel's popularity ratings are on the up. Most importantly in these tought times, she enjoys the confidence of the German population. Axel Rowohlt reports.

Our Question is:

"How good are politicians at crisis management?"

In Brazil, René Junghans is not impressed:

"Politicians, not just in Germany, have failed miserably. It's simply incredible that German tax money is being used to clean up the mess made in the USA. Instead of helping people who gambled away billions, the money could have been used to end hunger, or fund education and health...I think the German Chancellor Angela Merkel overdid it. Before allocating such an enormous sum of money she should have asked the people in a plebiscite: after all, this is all about the future of the nation. I already feel sorry for today's young generation which will have to pick up the bill."

And some practical, poetic advice from Erwin Scholz in Costa Rica:

"If bankers and those politicians

got some honest figures right,

under the law of mathematics

no crisis would have been in sight."

In Britain, Charles Smyth suggests politicians are part of the problem:

"It is not so much that politicians are good at managing a crisis, but that politicians are in the vanguard of creating a crisis. To manage: the threat from terrorism; the threat from immigration including terrorism and taking jobs;the economic crisis, both national and global: As per Chancellor Merkel's management of the current economic crisis, her task will be to manage things so that the tiger she has by the tail, doesn't bite her head off, which makes her look good by default, even though she will not manage to resolve the crisis."

Gerhard Seeger, in the Philippines, says:

"Since free-market self-healing didn't work - if it ever worked -, there was no other choice open to governments than to use tax money, that's not yet available, to guarantee loans and rebuild trust. Therefore, politicians acted properly, and it's now up to those responsible in key economic positions to do the right thing - if they have learned from their mistakes. If nothing more happens, then perhaps payments from rescue packages will no longer be needed - or not much."

Martin Burmeister, in Venezuela, says politicians worldwide did act properly, but not in his home country:

"..here you are never sure whether politicians are ignorant or politically colorblind. And parallel to the finance crisis, oil prices have fallen, and the state of Venezuela is practically dependent on its oil revenue - which it either gave or threw away as a present or used up in boom years to increase political influence, and spent on unnecessary weapons sales."

Werner Horbaty, in Nicaragua, takes a relaxed view:

"....we savers and small-business people will survive. Sadly, a few landowners, mostly in the USA, will have to take a hit ..."

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.