- The Washington Times - Friday, November 25, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Daily Telegraph

Mrs. Merkel’s ascent

LONDON — Germany swore in its first female chancellor Tuesday, after two months of horse-trading following an inconclusive election. Angela Merkel is also the first head of the federal government from the former communist east of the country.

Yet these historic achievements are clouded by the economic legacy inherited from Gerhard Schroeder and the nature of the new governing coalition. Unemployment, at over 11 percent, is near the postwar high. Growth this year is expected to be under 1 percent, and the budget deficit continues to breach European Union rules. Booming exports constitute the only bright note.

In seeking to revive the domestic economy, Mrs. Merkel is hampered by a grand coalition with the Social Democrats, who, after seven years in power, had made only modest moves toward loosening a sclerotic labor market and had twice broken electoral pledges to reduce joblessness. …

Yet through these upheavals, and the earlier disgraceful attempt by Mr. Schroeder to claim an election victory, Mrs. Merkel has kept her head. …

The new Bundeskanzlerin, to give her official title, campaigned on a program of labor and fiscal reform. She deserves a shot at implementing it without the baggage of her predecessor’s legacy.

Daily Nation

Constitutional debate

NAIROBI, Kenya — Three months of hard and aggressive referendum campaigns finally ended on Monday. Kenyans cast their ballot to put the constitutional debate to a peaceful end. And they made their verdict loud and clear and, most important, did so calmly and with dignity.

In all this, it is the voters — ordinary Kenyans — who deserve commendation. They turned out in large numbers to express their views and ensure that the national task was discharged successfully.

Now that the Electoral Commission of Kenya has declared Orange the victor [with 3.5 million votes against Banana’s 2.5 million] and Banana has conceded defeat, it is time for reconciliation and nation-building.

… What is critical is how to proceed in the search for a new governance charter. It is a moment at which to look back and reflect on the long path to the referendum and to draw some valuable lessons.

Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Sharon

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is clearly a full-service provider. Disengagement realigned the political spectrum on the policy level; now, by forming a new party, he is realigning the political map along the lines he has already incised in the ground.

The results of any “big bang” are by definition uncertain. Mr. Sharon is not just risking his own political future, but that of the entire political system, in a way that could reverberate long after he is no longer on the scene.

But certain things have actually become clearer. We will now have three major parties, each of which is better defined ideologically than either Labor or Likud were just a few weeks ago. Thanks to the election of Amir Peretz, and despite his recent tacking to the center on diplomatic issues, Labor will be clearly identified on the left, primarily on the economy, but also on foreign policy.

On the other side, rump Likud will clearly stand on the right, with its primary job being, in its own eyes, to block future unilateral withdrawals.

Finally, Mr. Sharon will run in the center, pledging his commitment to the road map but with a record of unilateralism that is in contrast to the unconditional negotiations approach of the left and the not-one-inch approach of the right.

Clear choices like this are democracy’s friend.

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