Sunday, 18 March 2012

sinecure or pretender to the throne

While back at the Bundestag, party representatives are holding their conclave to elect the next president of the republic, heir to a mostly ceremonial office that has perhaps made a lot of members of the public and constituencies across the government weary and frustrated with the latest succession of holders of that office.

The previous president resigned too early and the immediate predecessor resigned too late, it seems. Despite all the vested ceremony of having the upper house elect a president (the United States, before the advent of the Electoral College, also allowed the Senate select a president from among its peers), the office seems to be more of a liability (more of a personality rather than a platform) than a political coalition-builder. And perhaps because of the general disillusionment, a significant (though not properly surveyed) portion of the German public favours abolishing the office of the presidency altogether (the Chancellor wields executive power) and reinstating the monarchy, who would assume those roles--hosting foreign dignitaries, inaugurating museums, charitable launches, and the general indirect campaigning and the gauging of public-sentiment that a president seconding a chancellor or prime minister would do--after the idea was raised by a member of the Royal House of Prussia (the descendants, since there never was a German imperial family). Beyond the fascination that many Germans have for the British royal family and in-house nobility is fully-funded through with increased tourism--and perhaps courtiers vying for titles and recognition and the posts that make up a royal household--maybe the return of Kaiser and König as ceremonial figures, bereft of power, would be a good idea.
I can’t imagine that above and beyond what state authorities already contribute to maintaining Germany’s hundreds of former royal residences that much more money would be involved, not to mention discounting the politics of elevating a private citizen to public office, though there is sure to be contention and consequence over legitimacy and right to succession. Nationally and on the state level (Bavaria, like every Lander, has a minister-president and a prince von und zu Bayern, down to dukedoms, baronets, palatinates, counties, marches and fiefs), these dethroned royal families and their adherents have been prepared for this moment--not preening and conniving, I think, but just simply there and rarely does an administration come fully-formed.