- Christian Armbruester
Why nothing should come as a surprise.
If you walked up to a pedestrian junction and the signal was red, but no one was there, would you cross the road? This is not a question of safety, but rather one of rules, and would you break them if you were sure to get away with it? What about if it were two o’clock in the morning, it is cold outside, you have to get home quickly and the streets are completely empty, would you then not walk across to the other side? If the answer is no, then you are probably German. Welcome to a country where you are encouraged to report someone for breaking the rules and making mistakes is entirely not tolerated.
Growing up in a culture of doing things because one must, is an acquired skill set. Clearly negative reinforcement is part of the package, as is an ingrained fear of doing something wrong and no is the first answer to any suggestion of doing things differently. A wise woman once told me that the key is perseverance. If the idea does have merit, a German will eventually recognise the benefits of anything that will help achieve more efficiency. Furthermore, the same wise woman said, that seeing the enthusiastic embrace of something that was previously categorically dismissed, is almost worth the pain of having to go through this process.
In the centre of Europe, Germany shares borders with nine other countries and trade routes have been firmly entrenched for centuries. There are no mega cities that dominate like London or Paris, but there are plenty of disperse, large urban centres with differing economic specialisations. From Munich to Frankfurt, the Ruhr Pott, and Hamburg or Berlin, everything is wonderfully connected through highways on which at times you can still drive as fast as you want. It all makes for a highly productive network at the heart of the European Union, producing $15 trillion of GDP every year.
It is the end of an era in Germany and Angela Merkel is stepping down as Chancellor after 16 years. Her party was decimated in the recent elections, not even receiving a quarter of the votes. The problem is, no other party received much more of the popular support either. Worse, five parties received more than 10%. To form a government between so many different interest groups, some of which are directly opposed, will require much compromise to strike a deal. The only thing we know for sure, is that it won’t be as it was before, and that Germany will win the next World Cup.