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Konrad Werner: Guido the anti-hero

No one really knows why Guido Westerwelle is still foreign minister, but he is. And even though he is a bit of a tool, you can't help but feel sorry for him. It's the backlash against the backlash.

Image for Konrad Werner: Guido the anti-hero
Photo by Dirk ([email protected]; Flickr CC)

What’s not good enough for the FDP is apparently good enough for Germany. I say “what” but I mean “Guido”. That’s the trouble with the poor sod; he keeps getting blanked and reduced to a sort of unfortunate fool. The state election results from last week were the final nail in his reputation. He’s a sod, a clod, an oaf, a poor dejected carrot. A sad spoon, a rejected tool.

He was somehow the most successful and least successful leader the FDP ever had. He gave them their best ever election result (14.6 percent in 2009) and their worst ever poll rating (less than 5 percent last week).

The received conclusion is that what seemed great in opposition – offering a bright, spanking low-taxation world for dynamic young Germans – proved an utter shambles when in office.

But maybe that was the role he was born for. He’s a kind of anti-hero – an outsider. This also explains the air of prickly woundedness he carried round with him. This, as one person suggested to me this week, was because he had to fight his way to the top from the lowly streets of, erm, Bonn.

Now that he’s resigned, and is no longer the chairman of the FDP or vice-chancellor, everyone feels sorry for him. Especially the FDP, who have insisted that they are really happy he stays as the Foreign Minister. And while he is generally considered a disaster, it’s really a sign of how little foreign ambition Merkel’s government has that the foreign ministry can be used as a consolation prize for a Jilted John.