The British Election from a German Perspective

“A kingdom has turned into a province.” This was the headline of an editorial in die Zeit on April 27. Foreign policy, the paper said, was playing almost no role in David Cameron’s campaign speeches. A whole week went by, the paper said, before the death of more than a thousand migrants in the Mediterranean, many of them from Libya, became the subject of debate. David Cameron, his challenger Ed Miliband charged, shared some responsibility for the disaster. His government had made no preparations for the consequences of the Libyan air war, Miliband said. Nor were the Americans. Downing Street immediately shot back: Ed Miliband was shamefully “politicizing death.”

Miliband devoted an entire speech to foreign policy. He said that if Labour won, there would be a full commitment to the E.U. Once again, the U.K. would play an active role on the international stage. The speech seemed to have little impact on the election campaign.

In a BBC discussion, noted journalist Anne Applebaum said that in 25 years of covering British politics she had never witnessed so much navel-gazing or known of a government as insular as that of David Cameron.

Divorcing a First Lady

Toomaas Hendrik IlvesThe President of Estonia, Toomaas Hendrik Ilves, announced his divorce on April 17. In the light of the current debate about whether the position of First Lady, which is endowed with a salary, an assistant and a government car, should be abolished, the tabloid Õhtuleht comments (April 29):

“At a time when free partnerships are preferred to marriages and half of those who get married get divorced, there is no reason to assume that the Estonian president will be a husband. Moreover female candidates have also been proposed for the presidential office in Estonia. A monarchist lifestyle in which the president’s wife chooses not to pursue a career sends a false signal to modern society. In the era of private insurance, why should we assume the obligation of providing a lifelong income for someone just because they or their spouse was the head of state for a while?”