Schröder settles old scores with Merkel and 'God-fearing' Bush

Germany's former chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, has made a scathing attack on his conservative successor, Angela Merkel, accusing her of "lack of leadership" and belittling her foreign policy initiatives, in his first major interview since losing power last year.

The former Social Democrat leader's remarks, which provoked protest from conservative MPs, were made in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine to coincide with publication of his memoirs this week.

Asked about the growing unpopularity of Ms Merkel's grand coalition government, which has caused support for the conservatives to drop to a six-year low, 62-year-old Mr Schröder said: "There is simply a lack of leadership. That has created an incredible disillusionment through the conservative party." The former chancellor, who now holds a controversial senior post on the board of the Russian state energy giant, Gazprom, said the reform policies of Ms Merkel's government were "no big throw of the dice", adding that her attempts to streamline the country's complicated health care system had resulted in a "bureaucratic monstrosity".

Ms Merkel's success in improving the troubled German relationship with the US she inherited from her predecessor was dismissed by Mr Schröder with a sarcastic: "Now there you are!". Asked about Ms Merkel's change in German foreign policy by raising the issue of human rights on a visit to China, Mr Schröder said: "Yeah! I bet that hugely impressed the Chinese."

Mr Schröder said Ms Merkel had been taken in by the "bragging" of her own ministers who claimed they were "masters of their trade". Claiming Ms Merkel's Social Democrat grand coalition partners were the true leaders of her government, he added: "Now they see the opposite is true."

The former chancellor was unrepentant about joining Gazprom. "It is claimed that the pipeline is against German interests, but the opposite is true," he said. "I had expected to receive much praise for this, but perhaps that was exaggerated."

Ms Merkel's conservative ministers responded with vitriol. Michael Glos, the Economics Minister, said the German electorate was fed up with "the big mouth with which Schröder promoted himself" during office. "He is Mr Amateur," he said in a reference to Mr Schröder's economic policies.

Volker Kauder, the conservative parliamentary leader, said: "The fact that Schröder finds it necessary to attack his successor and with that, his own party friends, shows he has not got over his defeat." In excerpts from Mr Schröder's memoirs published yesterday, the former chancellor blamed the left wing of his Social Democratic Party and Germany's powerful trade union movement for engineering his defeat in last year's general election.

"They wanted to topple the reform programme and me as chancellor because I was connected with it," he said. Mr Schröder also provided a revealing insight into his impressions of President George Bush, with whom he clashed after his government vociferously opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2002: "During our private meetings, I was repeatedly reminded of how "God-fearing" this President was and how much he considered himself to be in tune with this highest authority," Mr Schröder wrote.

"The problem I have with such a stance begins when the impression increases that political decisions are being made as a result of a conversation with God. Somebody who justifies his political choices in this way cannot accept that they may be altered or even toned down through criticism or discussion."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This highly successful business...

Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - Bedfordshire - £30,000 + Excellent package

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Bonus, Pension, 25days hol, PHC +: Ashdown Group: ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer - Fire Security Systems - OTE £60k

£27500 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Operating in the South East pri...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn