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Konrad Werner: Desperately trying to muster a spasm

Konrad dove straight back into the thick of the news-a-rama on his return from transcontinental travels. And the crazy world of German politics was still a hive of brittle egos.

The FDP has a new leader and Germany has a new economy minister and vice-chancellor. That imperceptible liquid smacking sound that you can hear on the edge of your aural range is me trying coax some enthusiasm from my worn-out old cock. He’s called Philipp Rösler, in case you’re interested. The German media have got him down as “soft-spoken” and “mild-mannered.” In fact, he’s what you might call “rubbish.”

Obviously, one shouldn’t be too hard on him, seeing as he’s only young (38) – and he’s interesting, being, as I mentioned once, the youngest and most Vietnamese Vice-Chancellor Germany has ever had. So there is much weight on his supple shoulders.

But, on the other hand, it’s not really too clear in what way he is an improvement on Guido Westerwelle. He’s not Guido Westerwelle, which, it’s true, is a start, but that meagre fact is not necessarily the foundation for a huge, momentous career. It also takes a quite a bit of Googling to find out what he has actually done with his 18 months as health minister.

And he’s already doing his best to emulate his predecessor’s knack for looking awkward and slightly miffed. On Tuesday he appeared next to Birgit Homburger, who he had just thrown out of the post of parliamentary faction leader, so that Rainer Brüderle could take her place and wouldn’t mind being thrown out of the post of economy minister, so that he could take her place. Homburger became the party’s new vice deputy team leader in this embarrassing game of musical chairs, in which no chair was taken away. But Homburger definitely got the smallest one. Which is also fitting, as she is quite small.