Monday, 21 January 2013

It Might Never Have Happened Like This

On Sunday in Germany the Lower Saxony Regional elections resulted in a complicated situation.  The ruling Christian Democratic Union lost votes, a good many to the more right wing Free Democrats. 

However, the Social Democrats did not do as well as hoped but with the support of the Green party have a very narrow majority.  In short Angela Merkel’s lot have taken some flak but none of them hit their targets.

As this electoral outing was hoped to give some positive indications of what might happen come the German general election in September, it is now all still to play for with a wide range of uncertainty as to who will govern in October.

All I can predict with certainty is that little notice will be taken of the implications for Europe or the UK in our media until after the event unless there is something spectacular that happens. 

The risk is that the complications arising and the moves Germany makes to deal with unfolding situations in Europe, at home may induce something spectacular.  There are also “black swan” events to worry about. 

If Russia gets much more snow and things there, including effects on their oil and gas supplies, go badly this could have unforeseen effects across Europe as well.  Europe as we have known it may suddenly change involuntarily.

In Project Syndicate, Professor Nouriel Roubini, who famously or infamously, called the 2008 Crash, Dr. Doom in person, thinks that 2013 is going to be sticky all round.  There are serious risks to stability but no obvious contender for a trigger event.

It could have been so different.  In 1837 when Queen Victoria ascended the throne the opportunity was not taken by Parliament then to abandon male primogeniture in the succession.  It might have made a difference.

Her first child was a daughter, also Victoria, who married a Prussian Prince Frederick, becoming Crown Princess and Empress when he succeeded in 1888.  Sadly, he lasted only 99 days, already suffering from cancer.  Their first child, Wilhelm succeeded him as Kaiser.

When Queen Victoria died in January 1901, her daughter, Victoria, was still alive, but died in August of the same year.  If she had succeeded as the first child, she would have been Queen-Empress of the British Empire for a few months.

Then in 1901, Kaiser Wilhelm II would also have become King William V of the British Empire and Emperor of India.  Not only would Britain and Hannover become united again, but there could have been a British-German political and perhaps trading union.

What kind of world might we have had now?  Think of a world where neither the USA nor Russia might achieve the predominance they did later; and there would have been no need for a European Union.


  1. Would that not have lead to a war with France and Germany with the UK this time siding with Germany? Just asking.

  2. Of course I mean "France and Russia".

    1. Interesting, see Wikipedia on the Fashoda Incident 1898, we were still at odds with France at that stage. The Germans were the good guys until the Kaiser went off the rails. War might have occurred for some reason because both the Russians and French were unpredictable and agggressive but with outcomes unknown. One issue is that King Edward VII was very pro French, so no Edward no secret treaty with France and Russia.

  3. Interesting thought experiment although I suspect the royals were already growing weary of 'intrigue' and were themselves somewhat eager to let the (mock) 'wave of democracy' liberate them from the constant threat of regicide.

    It mattered not who ruled the nation so long as THEY controlled the money!

    Look at where that 'general philosophy' has left us...