So following on from the regional elections on the weekend, German chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to step down from the party leadership of the CDU after 18 years in the role.
Given she’s often said that the role of chancellor and party leader go hand-in-hand, it does make you doubt whether she’s going to be able to see out her fourth term in office.
However, this DOES mean that there’s going to be a lot of jockeying for position in what is already a very fragile coalition and it is theoretically possible for the SPD party to pull out of government to be part of the opposition and thereby force another election.
If THAT happens, she said that she will not stand again. All of the current problems have been brought about by Merkel’s open arms policy on immigration which has attracted massive criticism from all sides and resulted in the rise of extreme right parties like the AfD which now has representation in all 16 regional parliaments.
This, in turn, has led to a weakening of her power and a very fragile coalition that actually took quite some time to cobble together after the last election.
The second thing I thought I’d mention today is the Hitachi Chemical admission that it failed to test parts that encapsulate semiconductors in cars and domestic appliances.
The company is the world’s second biggest producer of the material that covers the chips, with Sumitomo Bakelite in the number one spot.
Now on its own, it sounds bad but not that bad – but I think this is just symptomatic of much wider problems in corporate Japan as it is just the latest company to admit to falsifying data.
Other recent examples include Nissan and Subaru but then there have been more cases from Kobe Steel and Mitsubishi Materials as well.
Japan has always prided itself on the quality of what it produces but it sounds like it will have to eat quite a few slices of humble pie given how it has lorded it over other Asian companies for many years.
For the moment, I guess that Sumitomo Bakelite will benefit from doubtful Hitachi Chemical customers, but who’s to say that THEY will be scandal free? You just don’t know these days!