Edmund Stoiber has a talent you never knew about before: He can write. His autobiography reads away like nothing – except for the passages in which he lists his glories as prime minister; there the text resembles a belated government declaration. Otherwise, one reads a straightforward and unpretentious book that is wooden here and there ("Another highlight was . . . ."), but is not bulky. You experience Stoiber as he thinks, feels, lives and breathes.
Whoever helped Stoiber, whose tangled language in speeches and interviews is notorious, to write it – congratulations! Occasionally, when he refers to his legendary Transrapid speech, for example, he can even smile at himself. His autobiography is a little reading pleasure, not only for party friends.
The most beautiful pages of Stoiber are the first 90 pages. One reads touched of a childhood in modest circumstances, of Jung-Edmund’s Indian games ("In contrast to my political life, I was often a redskin as a child"),of his time as a village soccer player in ASV Kiefersfelden, of his law studies in Munich ("it began quite casually at first") and of his marriage during his legal clerkship ("after two years of engagement, my father, a man of action, thought that marriage was the thing to do").
On these pages, one can experience the political socialization of Edmund Stoiber in the times of the student unrest, with which he could not do anything at all. All these "machinations" were quite cordially foreign to the Upper Bavarian Parzival; and to the agitators Rudi Dutschke and Rolf Pohle he listened, before one recognized him as a political enemy and threw him out of the lecture hall, rather with unbelieving amazement than with anger.
Thus he became an "inverted sixty-eighth" – and, because the lecture hall occupations and the "aggressive intolerance" of the left got on his nerves so much, wrote his legal doctoral thesis on "trespassing in the light of current problems" at Friedrich Christian Schroeder in Regensburg.
As his assistant, he experienced what it’s like to talk in front of people. After Environment Minister Max Streibl made him his speaker, he swapped the lecture hall for a pub and beer tent.
Stoiber describes why the old people thought he was an "arrogant youngster" when he first ran for the state parliament – and what he did about it. This passage is hard to believe. In Straussen’s day, people celebrated Stoiber’s drinking only water, but from the best vintage. In the book, he now claims that he won over the CSU local chairman of Irschenberg by drinking "two bottles of Schladerer" together. One is more likely to believe the sentence on page 164: "There was no CSU donations scandal."
The book is not a tell-all book. He writes about Franz Josef Straub with restraint and, of course, admiration; one doesn’t read a word about the affairs and financial dealings of the master – and criticism only in a very hidden place, where Stoiber describes his negotiations with the ingenious rager Lothar-Gunther Buchheim about the latter’s collection of expressionists. The dubbed in the citizens’ meeting, in the presence of Stoiber, his critics as "reed and gully rats". At this point, we now find Stoiber’s beautiful sentence: "Perhaps I benefited in this situation from the fact that I had been an employee of Straub for ten years, who, as a highly emotional person, resembled Buchheim."
The anecdotes from the Strauss era are at least as good as "Dinner for One": for example, the legendary blind flight to Moscow with Waigel, Tandler and Scharnagl in the Cessna piloted by Strauss; Foreign Minister Shevardnadze is said to have boasted that this was the only plane to land in Moscow on that icy day; when CPSU Secretary General Gorbachev asked Strauss at the reception whether this was his first time in Russia, Strauss is said to have replied: "No. But the first time I only got as far as Stalingrad."
Stoiber later succeeded his mentor as party leader, minister president and candidate for chancellor of the CDU/CSU, but not as an impetuous major and world politician.
Boisterous Stoiber was admittedly a Bavarian reformer. After successfully failing as the Union’s candidate for chancellor against Schroder in 2002 and then winning a two-thirds majority in Bavaria with the CSU, he wanted to show "it" to all of Germany and all Germans which chancellor had eluded them there. He took the country and its people by surprise with a cascade of reforms that eventually made him lose his hearing and sight himself.
It was the beginning of the end as Minister President and CSU leader. But there is only one point on which he criticizes himself today: In his reform frenzy, he should not have dissolved the traditional Bavarian Supreme Court.
Criticism formulated around the corner
The book is not a book of accounts: When it comes to his fall from power in 2006/2007, the descriptions are terse, sparse and dry. Incidentally: It is not the end of a political career that is decisive, he says, but its content. At one point, there is a round-the-corner criticism of his successors Gunther Beckstein (as Minister President) and Erwin Huber (as CSU leader): "Both have a remarkable political life’s work. Nevertheless, I was surprised when they took on the highest responsibility so much."
And what about Stoiber’s highest responsibility? He justifies his rejection of offers to become EU Commission President or Federal President by saying that Bavaria and the CSU could not have done without him. This is also the unsatisfactory explanation for his flight from Berlin, when he partout no longer wanted to become economics minister in the black-red cabinet Merkel. Well, yes.
Stoiber is always happy to give information about his recipe for success: it is passion. And in a sentence that introduces the chapter "Between Bavaria and Berlin," he explains this passion in five words, "I lived the CSU".
This probably also explains why he was the Bavarian Minister of the Interior the way he was and why he had to abolish the right to asylum. That’s what he thinks the CSU and its voters need. Stoiber does not liberalize after the fact, as he notes with astonishment and dismayed respect in his former secretary-general adversary from the CDU, Heiner Geibler. Edmund Stoiber describes himself as an honest man. And because he does this with some skill, people even believe him.
Edmund Stoiber: Because the world is changing. Siedler Publishing House, Munich 2012. 320 pages, 22.99 euros.
Excerpts are taken from the book: "Because the world is changing: Passionate Politics – Experiences and Perspectives" by Edmund Stoiber. The book is available here: Link
Munich – Five years after his fall from grace in Kreuth, former Bavarian Prime Minister and CSU Chairman Edmund Stoiber is conciliatory toward his successors.
"The friendships of yesteryear have cooled down as a result of the events, that will surprise no one. But it doesn’t change the fact that I wish Gunther Beckstein and Erwin Huber all the best for the years to come," Stoiber writes in his memoirs, which go on sale this Monday. The reckoning expected in some quarters fails to materialize.
Stoiber, however, sharply contradicts representations by Huber and Beckstein that he voluntarily offered his resignation at the time. He "of course did not" make his offices available of his own accord, Stoiber states, but without describing details of what happened at the time. The Beckstein/Huber tandem was not his invention, the ex-CSU leader emphasizes. In a preprint from the book, the "MuNCHNER MERKUR" further quotes Stoiber as saying, "I also do not forget the many years in which I worked very well with Gunther Beckstein and Erwin Huber and they were excellent ministers.
Both have a considerable political track record. Nevertheless, I was surprised when they took on the highest responsibility so much. That they did not have the hoped-for success as a leadership tandem certainly annoys both of them themselves most of all."Beckstein, on the other hand, had asserted in his memoirs, published in 2011, that he and Huber had not railed against Stoiber. The electoral defeat that followed the dramatic events of Kreuth in 2008, when the tandem fell to 43.3 percent of the vote, Stoiber describes in his book as "the blackest day in my political life".
Stoiber has words of praise for the current Minister President and CSU leader Horst Seehofer. "Horst Seehofer, together with his fellow party members, has succeeded in bringing the CSU out of depression after the loss of sole government and giving it mental strength again. The voice is raised again clearly in Berlin, sometimes also feared – this is indispensable for the success of the CSU at all levels."
Excerpts are from the book: "Because the world is changing: Passionate Politics – Experiences and Perspectives" by Edmund Stoiber. The book is available here, among other places: link
On Sunday 23. September 2012, a discussion took place at Jauch in the Gasometer Dr. Edmund Stoiber with Hannelore Kraft, Uli Hoeneb, Katja Kipping and Bernd Siggelkow about the questions:
Can our standard of living still be maintained in times of economic and euro crisis? Or has the concept of "prosperity for all" long since failed? Who bears responsibility for the negative developments: Incompetent politicians or an underperforming society? How to create more equal opportunities?
You can find the broadcast here: Link
The celebrity talk on Sunday mornings
With Thorsten Otto
9.00, 10.00, 11.00 BAYERN 3 news
Available as a podcast
"He only drinks sage tea, he’s an ascetic, he goes to the cellar to laugh – you have to live with these cliches, but they don’t correspond to the person!"Edmund Stoiber was Bavarian Minister President for 14 years. After studying law and politics, the native of Oberaudorf had a fast-paced career in politics: first as an advisor in the Ministry of the Environment, soon as CSU Secretary General in Bavaria, later as head of the state chancellery, candidate for chancellor. At 66, he ended his active career as a politician; since then, he has been advising the EU Commission on cutting red tape.
Now he has also written a book. In "Because the world is changing", Edmund Stoiber takes stock and takes a stand on the important issues of our time.
Some appreciate him for his clear stance, for others he is an irritant. He is a man of clear words, but looking at himself and the world with humor is important to him: "Humor is not always the means when it comes to making decisions. But it’s part of life – and also of politics."
In an interview with Thorsten Otto, the native of Oberaudorf talks about his political role model Franz-Josef Straub, about his most painful defeat and his passion for soccer. We also find out why he really got it so wrong in his legendary Transrapid speech and whether it’s really true that his wife Karin has been numbering his clothes for years!
You can find the complete radio report here as a podcast: Link
Excerpts are from the book: "Because the world is changing: A Passion for Politics – Experiences and Perspectives" by Edmund Stoiber. The book is available here: Link
IN AN INTERVIEW WITH BILD-AM-SONNTAG, FORMER CSU LEADER EDMUND STOIBER EXPLAINS WHY HE WANTS REFERENDUMS AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, WHY HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE KARL-THEODOR ZU GUTTENBERG MAKE A COMEBACK TO POLITICS, AND WHY ANGELA MERKEL ONCE LEFT THE CHANCELLOR CANDIDACY TO HIM AT THE BREAKFAST TABLE
BILD am SONNTAG: We are sitting here at the table of the most famous breakfast in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. On 11. January 2002, CDU chairwoman Angela Merkel served you the CDU/CSU’s joint candidacy for chancellor on a china plate. Did she find it easy?
EDMUND STOIBER: Our meeting was preceded by a tough but fair debate. The tipping point in my favor was probably the fact that a number of CDU state premiers, such as Roland Koch, Erwin Teufel and Peter Muller, were of the opinion that Stoiber, the CSU chairman, promised the CDU more success. The CDU’s donations affair was not long ago, and our sister party had lost a series of state elections as a result. But: Angela Merkel would have been very happy to run against Chancellor Schroder herself at the time. But the grandees of the CDU didn’t believe her at the time. And it did not want to come to a test of strength.
Did the roll fall out of your hand at Merkel’s offer??
No, because we had spoken on the phone the day before. But she was very keen to have a personal talk. I suggested a breakfast here in Wolfratshausen because of the confidentiality. I said to my wife: "Tomorrow Angela Merkel is coming for breakfast.
What was there to eat?
KARIN STOIBER: Fresh rolls, bread, orange juice, coffee, sausage, cheese, jam – just a normal german breakfast.
No white sausages?
Where do you think, it was eight o’clock in the morning, too early for white sausages.
On what grounds did Mrs. Merkel then let you go ahead, and is it true that in return she got your support for taking over the chairmanship of the parliamentary group?
EDMUND STOIBER: Angela Merkel made it clear here at this table that she would like to challenge Gerhard Schroder with her different political style and biography. But the hopes in the CDU would focus more on me as a successful prime minister and election campaigner. That was very sovereign. We didn’t talk about the CDU/CSU parliamentary group presidency until much later, on the day before the Bundestag elections after a visit to the Oktoberfest together. Your ambition to combine party and parliamentary group chairmanship, as Helmut Kohl once did, was understandable, and I supported you in this. Friedrich Merz had to make way for Schroder and saw this as a breach of trust. Today, however, we have a good personal relationship again.
It is obvious how much you are rooted here. Is this the real reason why, over all these years, you have turned down every offer, no matter how good, to move to Bonn, Brussels or Berlin?
Even as Secretary General, I was on the road more than I was at home. The reasons were quite different. When Franz Josef Straub offered me the job of Federal Minister of Transport in 1983, I didn’t do it because of my children, who were still small at the time. I have always been a passionate politician, but I wanted to make at least a minimal contribution to their education – even if it was only at breakfast together.
One of the stories that still surprises us today is that Chancellor Schroder offered you the post of EU Commission President just one year later after your defeat in the 2002 Bundestag elections. What did you not like about it?
In my time, people joined the CSU primarily out of conviction. The CSU embodies my attitude to life. I drew strength from this, and the CSU’s support among the people enabled me to take personal attacks in stride. Many in the party, including Horst Seehofer, said at the time: You can’t go to Brussels for Schroder now, because the big goal remains the early replacement of the red-green coalition.
In 2005, Red-Green was a thing of the past, Angela Merkel formed a coalition with the SPD. They stayed in Bavaria again. After all, your party friends wanted you to finally make room in Munich. Did you see the coup coming when you went to Kreuth for the closed meeting in 2007?
I was aware that there would be controversial discussions in Kreuth. But I did not expect you to go that far. It was clear that I wanted to stay in office for another two or three years and then initiate a generational change at the top. Others wanted something else.
Excerpts are from the book: "Because the world is changing: Passionate Politics – Experiences and Perspectives" by Edmund Stoiber. The book is available here, among other places: Link
… AND WE GOT PARTNERS WHO WERE A LITTLE DIFFERENT"
The history of the euro is a story of political hopes and economic realities, of noble ideals and evil deceptions, of the desire for community and of cultural differences, of appeasement and worry.
I have lived this story in all its shades. Even if I occasionally do not give the impression, I am quite inhibited to present myself as a "know-it-all". But if you want to talk credibly about ways out of the euro crisis, you first have to talk relentlessly about its causes and – yes, also – about its predictability.
Occasionally in these times I think of my trip to the U.S. as a candidate for chancellor in 2002. In a long conversation, the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, predicted: "The way the euro is constructed, I give it a lifespan of ten years. It is the year 2012. (…)
I do not want to retrace the euro debate of the nineties in all its details here. I know that I got on Helmut Kohl’s nerves during this time, and especially Theo Waigel’s, and I regret that in my personal relationship. But the struggle for currency stability was not conducive to male friendships. In any case, I earned a reputation as a fierce critic of the imminent introduction of a common European currency, especially in Mediterranean countries. (…)
First of all, we have to be clear, and that goes for myself as well: Regardless of what our position was on the introduction of the euro, we now have to deal with the problems that exist.
Major political decisions are not made on a trial basis or for a limited period of time, even if we like to adhere to this illusion. There are decisions and also mistakes in politics, which – unfortunately – cannot be revised easily.
The euro is the common currency. When elected political leaders make grave mistakes, as Red-Green did in the case of the euro, from admitting Greece to softening the stability criteria, those grave mistakes have grave consequences.
Excerpts are from the book: "Because the world is changing: Passionate Politics – Experiences and Perspectives" by Edmund Stoiber. The book is available among others here: Link