No one really expected a Merkel decision stalemate until Friday; instead, this Thursday is the day when Thomas de Maizière (CDU, 57) will become Germany's next top owner of the ordering and commanding powers as peacetime commander-in-chief ('IBuK') at the helm of the Defense Ministry.
Thomas de Maizière will be succeeded at the Interior Ministry by Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU, 53), chief of the Bavarian regional group within the sister parties CDU-CSU joint Bundestag faction. Merkel's move had to be acknowledged by the Bavarian conservative big heads, namely by Horst Seehofer who is the helmsman of the CSU and Bavarian governor. The Bavarians would have had the pre-emptive pick for the post of German Defense Minister due to the party allocation in the Merkel cabinet but they waved this right because 'nobody' in the CSU dared to succeed Baron zu Guttenberg (CSU, 39) on the second most difficult ministerial post in a German cabinet after the Finance and Treasury Ministry.
The ball was returned to Merkel's playground, and she swiftly decided with a political heavy-weight in her cabinet, Thomas de Maizière, the Interior Minister, the best choice of hers, IMO. No one from the secondary ranks could have had the clout of continuing the very difficult transition of the Bundeswehr to all-voluntary forces, beginning with July 1st, 2011.
Quickly after that, her pick was even applauded by the Social-Democratic opposition, namely by SPD-chief 'Arch Angel' Sigmar Gabriel, who was heavily critized by Merkel in terms of his choice of words ('under the belt-line') toward Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg during the two-week 'Doctorgate-Googleberg' plagiarism affair that led to Guttenbergs resignation last Tuesday.
The ombudsman of the Bundeswehr, Hellmut Koenigshaus (FDP, 60), also lauded Merkel's choice. He expressed the hope that Thomas de Maizière at the helm will quickly maneuver the forces in 'calmer waters'.
Why is Thomas de Maizière Merkel's best guy for the job? Well, he has been a lot of experience in restructuring at his post in the 'Home Office'. The transition and combination of the Federal Police (the former Federal Border Protection) and the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation under a joint roof has been 'his baby'. His sucessor, Friedrich, is going to continue this path as well as de Maizière will keep on transforming the Bundeswehr.
The near future will decide whether the new Defense Minister will keep the deputy.
I think so because Walther Otremba, currently 1st state secretary, has really done a good job in preparing the blue-prints for the irreversible Bundeswehr transformation.
Merkel's swift decision shows that she won't give up easily but the next state elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxonia-Anhalt (March 20th) and Rhineland-Palatinate (March 27th) will be new litmus tests on her fate.
If she loses Baden-Wuerttemberg, the opposition will trumpet 'general attack' on her, and with early national elections this year then probable it would surely be her 'political death blow'.