This is a German word without obvious translation, but it is always the first word which comes to my mind when I think of Stormont. It means really “idea-less” in the sense of “lacking in things (ideas) occurring to you”; perhaps “lacking in creativity” would cover it in some circumstances.
I was reminded of this by one correspondent over Christmas, who remarked how he found so many MLAs “lacking in curiosity” (his term).
Indeed, I spoke to a German interpreter who worked with a delegation from the German State of Baden-Württemberg to the Assembly, who remarked to me that MLAs did not ask their visitors a single thing about where they were from. Baden-Württemberg, a diverse State (a third of the population of its largest city, Stuttgart, have no German passport) with among the very highest living standards in Europe on the back of a flourishing economy (think Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and countless companies in areas from pharmaceuticals to accounting), is apparently of no interest whatsoever to us. It subsequently elected a Green First Minister, the first in Europe, for the record.
This lack of curiosity, tied to a lack of creativity and basic ideas, is deeply troubling. Frankly, we should not be electing people who are not interested. The penalty is isolation and parochialism, leading inevitably to standards of policy-making, legislation and governance which fall well below the best globally.
We always expect the rest of the world to be curious about us. It is time we were led by people who were curious about the rest of the world – einfallsreich, perhaps!