kiko

German politics xth attempt

120 posts in this topic

TO avoid the the impression that we are in the habit of marching into all the other European threads, let's start with this one: is there any party in Bavaria that is actually electable? Every other year I have the same issue. If there would be a "Everything But The  CSU"  party,  I would love to vote for them.  All the others are more or less incompetent, even more provincial, or  - believe it or not - even more right. Let's see if Martin Schulz is a better choice than the Steins or  Gabriel.  I just don't know what to think of him.  He doesn't give me the impression that he has an agenda besides getting into power.  But I have to say that I was very impressed how easily he maneuvered into his current position.  Maybe that kind of skill is needed in the current state of affairs.    (sorry for the lack of paragraphs.  A linefeed seems to destroy all my inputs)

 

 

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I have the same problem, and sadly, no solution. Bavarian politics is a pretty depressing topic unless one likes the current wave of what passes for populist rightwing thought (or is that an oxymoron?...)

I'm still undecided who to go for during the BTW, but I know I won't make that hinge on the position of the Bavarian Landesparteien - that's left for the LTW. I may not like my local representatives or the alternatives for them, but those are the choices I have and at least they'd be strengthening their respective parties, whether in a coalition or as the opposition.

More to the point, I'd like to not continue with Merkel if possible, but I want even less power for the AfD... and even with the recent uptick, the SPD seems too weak to challenge the Union. Hence, I'm pretty much already casting my vote with an eye not just who would make for good government but also who could potentially be a decent opposition, unless Schulz really manages to turn things around. The Grand Coalition of seven of the last eleven years is, to me, a prospect of continued standstill and no meaningful opposition to speak of.

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Neglecting long term global stuff the main problem in German politics in the last two decades is the SPD. One can understand the initial failure in the wake of the dot.com boom and Blair's "New Labour". But after that bubble burst they should have been smarter, only they had shifted already too far to the right (economically) and all but abolished the "working class" and especially had nothing but scorn for the unemployed, underemployed, precariously employed underclass. This was both a failure in ethics and in their traditional social democratic principles and also very stupid because it alienated a considerable number of their base while not gaining them a lot from "the other side" because of course especially the FDP was far more clearly the party for the top earners.

And then they became really stupid. Schroeder's shady move for an earlier election in 2005 to bring what was left of "leftist" social democrats to heel brought Merkel into power. By then the SPD's downfall accelerated. (I was also stupid: When that black-red coalition started in 2005 I was fairly certain they would not last the whole 4 years.) But they did. And it got only worse. The SPD managed to take the blame for everything that went wrong, again lost a lot of support, sucked up to Merkel in too many issues; worse, saved the Banksters with public money (tbh some of the most problematic laws that made the worst of the 2008-09 crisis possible had already been passed by the Schroeder-Fischer government), Merkel got the praise for everything that went right and they were slaughtered in the election 2009. And then they failed again. They do not seem to understand fundamental tactics/strategy and they seem to be unable to learn from these disasters. They could have led an SPD/Linke/Greens government in 2005 and even in 2013 but they categorically excluded this option.

Why can't they understand that they need this option at least tactically unless they want to play "junior partner" to the CDU forever?

To put figures on the SPD disaster: They fell in the federal elections from 40.9% (1998) to 23 (2009) and 25.7 (2013) respectively while the CDU rose from 35 to 41.5%. And the number of party members fell to less than one half from 1990 to 2012.

The second problem are the Greens. Hard to believe but they seem even more spineless than the SPD and it would be a grave insult to prostitution to compare them to that venerable business. They went into bed with one of the worst (far right, corrupt, generally disgusting) local CDUs (who had led openly xenophobic campaigns, using the Arabic surname of a Green politician (and the Greek surname a thoroughly autochthonous SPD politician had from her ex-husband) on campaign posters "Verhindert Ypsilanti, Al-Wazir und die Kommunisten") in Hesse as soon as the occasion arose. (More easily than for the SPD this is understandable looking at the base of the Greens: What were extremist students in the late 1970s/80s are now usually professors, lawyers, doctors, teachers, high ranking civil servants etc. - those who drive hybrid-SUVs to the organic store and kid themselves they are saving the planet.)

Why is this a problem (apart from the policies that throw sustainable development and the poorest 30% of the populace under the bus while raising pressure on the middle third and pampering to the rich, corporations etc.)?

Because democracy needs the realistic option of change in government and I'd argue that it also need the realization of that option once in a while. We have now the situation that both in the Federal as well as in many local (state) governments a CDU-led coalition (and very often a "Große Koalition") becomes the norm. Because the CDU can form coalitions with everyone but the Linke (they still deny that they would go with the AfD, but...) it becomes almost impossible to change the government, at least not the party and the politicians who lead the government. This has led to dropping turnout, Politikverdrossenheit and the rise of the AfD.

It is worse than in the early 90s. Sure, we were frustrated that Kohl had been saved by the German unification (he would almost certainly left the 1990 election if this had not happened). But bumbling idiot he was in some respects, he was not a spineless slick machiavellian like Merkel but had a European vision (the blackmailing of Southern Europe in the Euro crisis would have been unthinkable to Kohl and Genscher) and also aware that relations to Russia should not continue the cold war etc. And there was still the realistic option of change because the SPD was rather different from the CDU and had basically been unlucky with their candidates

It becomes worse because of the media. The media seem to become ever more supporting of whatever government is in place, they keep praising the status quo, centrism, stability and "middle ground". This seems a grave misunderstanding of democracy. The point of democracy and of having political parties is precisely NOT that everyone agrees, everyone wants to be as centrist as possible. But rather that there are wildly different positions and later we find some compromises.

I think all of these developments are very bad for the general poltical culture, they are de facto supension of democracy and play to extremist ideas like "if elections changed anything, they would be forbidden". It is more subtle. One does not even have to forbid elections, there are other ways to make them almost pointless.

Edited by Jo498

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I think Merkel will rule until she does not longer want to or some internal power struggle in the union forces her to resign. She is only 62. If her health permits 8-12 more years are easily possible. I doubt the SPD will ever pose a real threat her. Maybe if they start to denunce Schröders neo-liberal heritage completely but I guess the Linke took too large a share of the  "social" side of the social-democratic electorate and it's too late for that. From my Austrian point of view Merkel seemed quite a bit further on the left than the SPD on some economic issues when she first got elected. The lesser evil if you are working class.

 

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What will eventually bring down Merkel is that the CDU will keep losing ground in the regional elections. The party will eventually have to ditch her if they want to keep a single state. Can't really run a government without the Bundesrat either. Oh, and of course the AfD will keep growing as long as Merkel is in office.

As for the SPD, they don't really have an option to lead a federal government. There's no way they have a majority with the Greens alone, and the Linke is anti-NATO / anti-Western and pro-Putin, which precludes any coalition with them on the federal level. They aren't exactly the party of the poor either, BTW. 

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All it takes is an SPD volte-face on immigration. A major, serious European party that understands that closed borders, national identity, civic rights, liberal democracy, high taxes, free speech, and the welfare state go together (rather than being in conflict with each other) would win. It would certainly have my vote. The AfD would disappear over night.

The other stories are homo economicus in a globalised undemocracy with strong segregation, uncontrolled migration, low wages, and low taxes. Enclaves of Shari’a and walled-off white flight areas for the academics and media. The dream of the classically liberals. 

Or a strong, totalitarian surveillance state in a perpetual state of emergency. Restrictions on free expression and assembly, the academic left becoming part of the authoritarian regime of indoctrination to stifle unrest.

I like neither of these utopias.

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Fine, I'll add my take on it.

Let's be clear, Siggy Pop was never in a million years going to be chancellor. Hell, I would have a better chance of winning Germany's Next Topmodel. That's in part down to his low popularity, and to a bigger part down to the weakness of the SPD. The few who might have the potential to make a decent chancellor within the SPD they wanted to sit out this time and let somebody else lose to Merkel. In four years, when Merkel will ride off into the sunset, Kraft and Albig will show up willingly to run.

We all know and can predict the outcome of the next elections to some extent. Merkel will remain chancellor, and the grand coalition will continue. Looking at the non-existent alternatives Merkel doesn't look half as bad. Assuming the CDU will end the election as the strongest fraction, who else could they muster up. De Maiziere? The thought can indeed cause a palpable sense of insecurity among the sane population. von der Leyen? Seven save us. Schäuble? Hell on wheels, but in comparission he looks quite good. Bouffier? Just yuk. Any Bavarians? Nah, the minimum bar to pass in order to become chancellor should be sanity. The more you think about those pretty sad alternatives, the better Merkel looks.

The other parties? 

Let's start with the (so called) Left. I am not telling anybody how to vote, but as long as Wagenknecht is on top of the ticket, they are unelectable for me. If they had managed to off her, and put Kipping on top of the ticket instead, they might be worth a thought. But Wagenknecht? No fucking way! And that's not taking their strange love for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin into account.

The FDP: oh, how much I hoped for those Libertarian corporate whores to be gone for good. But like the walking dead, they just seem to come back from their grave.

The Greens (my likely vote). It's kinda sad state, when you wish that a 77 y.o. had decided to run for another turn, instead of retiring. I am not particularly fond of Özdemir (at least he has some more charisma than Hofreiter), and Göring-Eckardt's lack of charisma is kinda troubling. So maybe replacing Hofreiter with Özdemir will make the Greens look a bit less toothless. On the other hand, what is his most memorable performance thus far? Posting an ice bucket challenge video with a weed plant in the background. Maybe Ströbele has a change of heart will keep on running until he has turned 100? Or 120? Damn, I am gonna miss him. :(

The AfD, just no comment. Bad enough, they will probably make it with double digits. 

So that really leave's the Grand coalition in charge. Anything else does not work mathematically (assuming the general goal is to keep the AfD out of the goverment). It's not a great outcome, but looking at the most recent electoral clusterfucks in the UK and the US, one has to say stability has some merit.

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Sure, the lack of any charismatic candidate is another SPD problem. But they messed it up when they had one of the more charismatic politicians of the last 25 years at the helm. The only comfort here is that it is as bad in the CDU where no replacement for Merkel is in sight.

I am not sure but immigration/refugees was not really an important aspect of German politics until about 2-3 years ago. I'd say it was totally irrelevant to the losses in 2005, 09 and 13 that brought the SPD into its current mess. There are many reasons why the SPD cannot do an 180° turn but the main point is that it would hardly help her.

It is almost exactly the same situation as it was around 2000 wrt to social policy and tax cuts for corporations etc. You cannot really improve your position as a social democratic party if you try to outdo conservatives and neo-liberal at their main themes. It might work for one election but then they will always beat you on their home turf. Same goes for right wing populist themes. The result is that you become untrustworthy and lose a lot of your old base without gaining enough new supporters because they will stick to the original not the cheap copy. Merkel might have been hasty with her "refugees welcome" but she put the leftist parties in a very uncomfortable situation: They are the ones who want to be open and internationalist, multicultural etc. but they could hardly outdo Merkel so the had to keep quiet.

It is probably too early to speculate about the Federal elections in September because they will be dependent on the ones before in NRW (and Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein) and probably even France.

Current predictions percentages: CDU 33-37, SPD 20-26, Greens 7-10, Linke 8-10, AfD 11-14, FDP 6-7.

But even more losses for CDU and SPD would not matter as long as they could scratch together 50.x%. Even otherwise the Greens or the FDP will gladly oblige to continue business as usual for a few bites from the cake of cushy government positions

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1 hour ago, Jo498 said:

Merkel might have been hasty with her "refugees welcome" but she put the leftist parties in a very uncomfortable situation: They are the ones who want to be open and internationalist, multicultural etc. but they could hardly outdo Merkel so the had to keep quiet.

My point is that they can just stop doing that. Internationalism (in particular, free movement of workers) is a (classically) liberal, free-marked, no-government idea. It’s something that belongs to the FDP. Only an economist would think that free movement of goods, capital, and people are good for anything else than the privileged. From a class perspective, which should be the Left’s main perspective, it is clear that the precariate and the proletariate is hurt by all of these ideas, but in particular by the free movement of people

(Not to mention the cultural aspect. The Left works best when it is closely tied to Western enlightenment values such as secularism, free speech, feminism, etc. Multiculturalism the best way I can think of to attack those ideas. But that is just an opinion. The class perspective is not.)

The only alternative to the free-market, ugly, segregated, low-wage, hateful, unequal, Jew-hating, ubiquitous surveillance, women-better-dress-modestly-in-public, gated community, FDP/CDU/Eurocrat utopia that I believe Merkel will bring about is a social-liberal democracy, high taxes, universal education and health care, unrelenting loyalty to the values of the West and the Open Society (in the Popperian sense), rational discourse, pluralism, secular, ethnically homogenuous nation-state. That is both the dystopia and the vision the SPD should bring to the table.

The totalitarian, identitarian, academic Linke have nothing to contribute anymore. (This includes the Grüne, which I say with some sorrow, since I’ve voted for them almost since the 1980s.)

The Social Democrats of Denmark seem to finally get this, and I hope other European social democracies wake up as well.

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2 hours ago, Notone said:

Let's start with the (so called) Left. I am not telling anybody how to vote, but as long as Wagenknecht is on top of the ticket, they are unelectable for me. If they had managed to off her, and put Kipping on top of the ticket instead, they might be worth a thought. But Wagenknecht? No fucking way!

Could you expand on that? (Honest question.)

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I thouroughly dislike Wagenknecht and her lifepartner Lafontaine. Hell of an explanation I know. 

Here's the reasoning. Both of them have a too heavy nationalist leaning for my liking. Be it Lafontaine a few years ago, who happily borrowed vocabulary from the far right of the 1930s "Fremdarbeiter" who come here from foreign countries to undercut wages of local workers and take their jobs. He later had the balls to to claim he was misunderstood, and it was meant as an attack on the exploitation of the workforce by companies.

Or be it Wagenknecht herself, who was sitting in one of the talkshows last year and happily agreeing with AfD leader Frauke Petry on several talking points. She is imo doing that to stop the bleeding in Eastern Germany, where her party has a tradiotionally stronger voting base to the AfD. So she tries to take and occupy the AfD's talking points. 

I think one of her pearls of wisdom was "warning German companies to hire young southern European in apprenticeship positions". She later claimed, that it was meant as a criticism of the German European policy, which is forcing poverty migration into Germany. So basically the same shit Lafontaine pulled back then. Making a right wing populist point, and then performing mental acrobatics on a Olympic level in a desperate attempt to shoehorn it into an intellectual left wing argument. 

Edited by Notone

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I'm too lazy to offer my general view, but I must agree wrt Wagenknecht (and Lafo). And I actually used to like the former. There was a talkshow on the topic of Trump (on Monday, I believe), and Lafontaine was there, and all he offered was basically... love and respect for DT. In his mind, Trump apparently really takes on the capital and such. Really strange. That really drove home the fact that these two (who seem to be one entity ever since they hooked up) must be removed. In my perception, Wagenknecht used to be a brilliant analyst of the current (and historical) political and economical situation, but she is getting more and more populist (in the bad sense) and nationalist.

 

Edited by Mindwalker

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Ha! From those descriptions it sounds as if I might like her because what you sketch above is consistent with my own analysis! So if I understand this correctly what I want is for Wagenknecht to lead some highly specific mixture of the SPD and the AfD. Well, I’m on board!

And yet she’s in the Linkspartei (which I wouldn’t vote for because Gulag)! The confusion is complete. Nothing makes sense anymore, I can almost feel the ages-old tectonic plates of the political landscape shift.

(I used to like Lafontaine maybe two decades ago, but a lot has happened since then. I don’t follow German media except for reading newspapers online, so I have no feeling for personal preferences.)

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the main outcome of the election in September: another Great Coalition with a slightly stronger SPD thanks to the Schulz effect. 

AfD somewhere in the region of 10-15% depending what will happen until September. Another attack like in Berlin might push the AfD towards 15%. 

FDP? absolutely no idea. they might make the 5% hurdle but maybe not. Anyway the party as it is now is irrelevant so or so. 

I know that the Germans on this forum are in average quite left and do not like the CSU, even put them in the same corner as the AfD. my opinion is clear: that is nonsense. The CSU is

- 100% democratic 

- pro Europe 

- pro Euro

- pro helping people 

they are socially conservative and this is why people have a problem with them. And yes Seehofer is sometimes a bit populistic but don't forget: he is pro solidarity and community. Comparing him with rightwing demagogues is not only unfair but malicious. 

Edited by Arakan

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Wagenknecht is the most charismatic and one of the smartest politicians today. She is also good-looking, all the more reason to hate her.

Lafontaine was ousted in 1999 because he was too far left (Keynesian) for the Neoliberal Blairite Schröder. Lafo was trained as a physicist, so he is probably also far smarter than the average lawyer/teacher/career unionist politician (especially when forced to think outside procedural boxes) but this did not help him. He had also been right in many ways when he was against the quick re-unification in 1990 (and many of his prediction both then (that it would be far more expensive than claimed by Kohl) and later after he left the government 1999 were spot on) but this was politically very stupid and made him unpopular. I agree that he tends to come across as a somewhat slick "know-it-all".

If Lafontaine and Schroeder had managed a compromise in 1999 and gone for a more Keynesian course, had avoided the liberalization of norms and laws for banksters, "locusts" and other financial parasites, there might not have been a 2008/09 crisis in Germany. But Lafontaine was apparently isolated and it seems that his plea for stricter financial regulations, reigning in hedgefonds, stable exchange rates led to his dismissal.

If there was any justice, Lafontaine should get some medal for clearly recognizing the danger of the banksters and suggesting rules to reign them in whereas all those people who brought about the desastrous laws that facilitated the 2008 financial crisis should be stripped of all their assets and forced into hard labour...

(Looking through the wiki article, it also seems that Lafo was cautious in some of the fields Happy Ent mentioned: He pointed out the problems for the social systems due to >200k Russian-German immigrants and suggested restrictive quota. In 1999 he argued for a bipartisan compromise with the CDU in the dual citizenship law reform that was refused by the SPD/Greens, so the CDU could kindle the xenophobic emotions in the populace for polarization/mobilization and took Hessen, a traditionally "red" state in early 1999. The former SPD Ministerpräsident, Eichel, became Lafo's successor and was the minister of finance mostly responsible for passing all the shit that facilitated the crisis. He was an overtaxed school teacher, I am afraid. Correct in details, but clueless about what he was doing in the long run.)

Edited by Jo498

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@Jo498

even though I disagree with many things Lafontaine (and Gysi) said, I always respected their intellect and rhetoric capabilities. Both have very analytic minds. 

But while Gysi could argue with charme and humour, Lafontaine was always too sullen (a bit like Stannis) and had the unsavory attitude to show his opponents his contempt too openly when he deemed them "stupid". As one can imagine you make a lot of enemies this way. 

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As I said, I agree with this characterization of Lafontaine's character. He never was really popular or sympathetic. Still, he was right in an almost spooky fashion in so many things he pointed out against the grain of common opinion (including his own party) both in 1990 and in 99 which impresses me.

(another guy who was often right with unpopular predictions but who nevertheless is sometimes an insufferable asshole is Gauweiler.)

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3 minutes ago, Jo498 said:

As I said, I agree with this characterization of Lafontaine's character. He never was really popular or sympathetic. Still, he was right in an almost spooky fashion in so many things he pointed out against the grain of common opinion (including his own party) both in 1990 and in 99 which impresses me.

(another guy who was often right with unpopular predictions but who nevertheless is sometimes an insufferable asshole is Gauweiler.)

You could add Stoiber :))). He was respected in Bavaria for making a good job but never loved. Too sullen, too much of a smart ass, lack of humour, too thinskinned ;)

Edited by Arakan

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16 hours ago, Mindwalker said:

I'm too lazy to offer my general view, but I must agree wrt Wagenknecht (and Lafo). And I actually used to like the former. There was a talkshow on the topic of Trump (on Monday, I believe), and Lafontaine was there, and all he offered was basically... love and respect for DT. In his mind, Trump apparently really takes on the capital and such. Really strange. That really drove home the fact that these two (who seem to be one entity ever since they hooked up) must be removed. In my perception, Wagenknecht used to be a brilliant analyst of the current (and historical) political and economical situation, but she is getting more and more populist (in the bad sense) and nationalist.

 

Ugh, Trump. As an immigrant to your country, this (and other stuff said here about German politicians - what's up with their lack of charisma? and why all of them? LOLs) are really interesting (and let me be honest, a bit disturbing) to me. I read online news and I mostly get Berlin news, but I need to get my German telly working for this stuff. Might even do wonders for my B1 Deutsch. 

 

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20 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Wagenknecht is the most charismatic and one of the smartest politicians today. She is also good-looking, all the more reason to hate her.

What? Just what?!? Well, perceptions can differ with regard to the smart and charismatic part. But what on earth have her looks to do with anything? And besides it's probably the reason why said, they should have replaced her with Kipping, because Katja Kipping is so damn ugly (nah, not really).

I have never been on the Wagenknecht bandwagon, but she has always been incredible good at self-promoting (Lafontaine too btw.). One of my early political turn offs about her, has always been that her rhetoric has never matched her actions or life style. I think her ex-husband's pet name for her ("Meine Salon-Bolschewistin") might have contributed to that. 

20 hours ago, Arakan said:

know that the Germans on this forum are in average quite left and do not like the CSU, even put them in the same corner as the AfD. my opinion is clear: that is nonsense. The CSU is

- 100% democratic 

- pro Europe 

- pro Euro

- pro helping people 

Pro Europe? Maybe. Just not that much pro European law. As can be seen with their latest toll adventures.

Pro helping people? Yes, we all know how sad that fake doctor (not Guttenberg, the other one) Scheuer was about not being able to help the football playing, ministering Senegalese home, if he had been for more than three years in Germany. 

Let's get to the more fun bit.

 

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find the actual episode online. If somebody has more time or energy for the search. Knock yourselves out.

 

Also a classic moment.

Crazy Horst trying to not answer the question, whether there's actually any difference between his party and the AfD.

My favorite bit is, "we say, what we believe is right, based on our convictions. Don't blame us, that other parties [namely the AfD] is picking up our ideas." It's a pretty rich reasoning, when you think about it. Don't compare us to them, just because our convictions are the same.

I know it's unfair to use stuff that party and their representatives actually said to potray them in unfavourable way.

So maybe you can enlighten us on the actual differences between AfD and CSU. 

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