Berlin's Newest Power

MICHAEL JUNG/AFP

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder

What's the most powerful political institution in Germany right now? It's not Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democratic Party (SPD), which was humiliated in state elections last week in Hesse and Lower Saxony (Schröder's home state). And it's not the rival Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which despite its gains hasn't yet come up with a coherent plan for economic reform. No, the organization with the most clout these days is an obscure legislative group called the Mediation Committee. Meeting in a soundproof Berlin conference room with no natural light — it's referred to as the Dark Room by pundits — this secretive...

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