NSA Spying in Germany: Turning “A Parliamentary Democracy Into A Banana Republic”
“The largest espionage scandal in the 21st century is shaking Germany,” wrote Peer Steinbrück, the man who is desperately trying to unseat one of the most popular German politicians, Chancellor Angela Merkel, as massive anti-NSA protests spread across the country…. Well, not quite: 1,000 demonstrators straggled through Frankfurt. It’s going to be tough for him.
Edward Snowden’s revelation of widespread US and British spying on German internet and telecommunications – and Germany’s own role in it – damaged confidence in the democratic rule of law, and suspicions were growing that constitutional rights had been “systematically violated millions of times,” he asserted in a guest commentary in the Frankfurter Rundschau – 56 days before the election. The SPD’s candidate for chancellor, and erstwhile Finance Minister under Merkel’s grand coalition government of 2005-2009, was running out of time.
Back in June, 100 days before the election, only 14% of German voters believed that he could become chancellor, while 78% believed that he was electoral road kill. Even among SPD supporters, moroseness had taken over: only 22% believed he’d make it. The spy scandal might be his last chance. Only a big debacle could unseat Merkel. But Germany was on vacation, and the government would simply not allow any big debacles to transpire before the elections.