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kiko

German politics xth attempt

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Looks are usually to some extent necessary for charisma. (They are not sufficient as some of the younger good looking Linke chicks like Kipping or Wissler prove - but I think that Merkel or Roth are so uncharismatic is partly due to their looks...). But seriously, Wagenknecht is one of the few politicians today who understand political economics (which is not bookkeeping). Certainly far more than Siggy or Spar-Schäuble. (As an aside, I find it an incredible scandal that everyone seems to have completely forgotten Schäuble's involvement in corruption (Schreiber) that was never really cleared. He should have been banned from any public office since then (2000). If I was a journalist I'd start every text concerning Schäuble pointing this out. Together with his Stasi 2.0 fantasies and his Spardiktat he's really a despicable guy.)

I think it is hypocritical and pointless to demand that leftist politicians should live differently than other people with a comparable income. I would find it nice if they they favored a modes lifestyle, but they are not monks/nuns, they don't even preach poverty.

Not that I am happy about the AfD. But we had it coming as all parties but the Linke failed, failed, failed. The SPD failures I described above, the Greens became FDP painted green, the guys driving an SUV to the organic store, although with more teachers and professors than dentists and tax accountants. And the CDU/CSU grinned smugly seeing the Left side of the spectrum splitting up, hating each other and refusing to use the majority they had in 2005 and even 2013. To the contrary, the SPD and Greens fell over themselves to become eligible as "junior partners" in CDU-led governments. And while I would have loved the FDP to vanish completely (they seem to be stable around 6-7% in current polls for the federal election), a splitting of the Right side into CDU, FDP, AfD is at least something although it will not be enough as the SPD is too weak and Merkel too strong.

Edited by Jo498

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1 hour ago, Jo498 said:

I think it is hypocritical and pointless to demand that leftist politicians should live differently than other people with a comparable income. I would find it nice if they they favored a modes lifestyle, but they are not monks/nuns, they don't even preach poverty.

Ahum. One of those YES, BUT answers. Doing those big picture homestory bits in the GALA (iirc) and talking about the world revolution, that's really somewhat incompatible.  Just imagine Bernie Sanders doing a big photo shoot home story for the Vogue and calling out for his supporters to get the revolution going. It wouldn't make much sense. That's probably on par with Jesus and his pals dropping acid and hitting on chicks at the local disco.

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Who are the rising stars of the CDU and SPD? The only one I know of is Jens Spahn.

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3 hours ago, Notone said:

Ahum. One of those YES, BUT answers. Doing those big picture homestory bits in the GALA (iirc) and talking about the world revolution, that's really somewhat incompatible.  Just imagine Bernie Sanders doing a big photo shoot home story for the Vogue and calling out for his supporters to get the revolution going. It wouldn't make much sense. That's probably on par with Jesus and his pals dropping acid and hitting on chicks at the local disco.

Only if you see Wagenknecht as some kind of apostle (and recall that Christ's first miracle was turning water into wine and the Pharisees regularly accused him and the disciples of hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes :D)

I don't want to see any politician as a savior (or salvatrix). I am also not aware of anyone calling out to "get the revolution going". The German Linkspartei of today is in most positions comparable to the mainstream Social democracy/trade unions of the mid/late 1970s. They are very far from revolutionary communism despite some rhetorics of both supporters and opponents. It is only because of the thousandfold repetition that "everyone shifted to the Left" and the harping about the connections to the SED (while the very same connections between the Blockparteien that fused with their Western analogues are cavalierly ignored) that makes some people believe they are far Left. They are not.

Likewise, CSU or AfD are not "far right", at least not in toto, although the latter have some unsavory elements, there is still a considerable distance to the NPD and their ilk.

Edited by Jo498

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@Notone

allright, I get it you dont like the CSU. I am very sorry but I have to tell you that your perception bias doesnt allow me to have a serious discussion with you about CSU policies. You pick some random examples and define everything with that. makes no sense, at all. This is not how inductive reasoning works. 

And your not very subtle accusations that the CSU is somehow "ausländerfeindlich" is ludicrous. 

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6 hours ago, Arakan said:

@Notone

allright, I get it you dont like the CSU. I am very sorry but I have to tell you that your perception bias doesnt allow me to have a serious discussion with you about CSU policies. You pick some random examples and define everything with that. makes no sense, at all. This is not how inductive reasoning works. 

And your not very subtle accusations that the CSU is somehow "ausländerfeindlich" is ludicrous. 

Whether they are really or just pretend to be just to appeal to their electorate does not make a difference.  They quack like an AfD and certainly look like one. I guess you have to to leave Bavaria to see from outside how despicable they are. They are leeches riding on the economic success of the state.

 

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21 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Only if you see Wagenknecht as some kind of apostle (and recall that Christ's first miracle was turning water into wine and the Pharisees regularly accused him and the disciples of hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes :D)

I don't want to see any politician as a savior (or salvatrix). I am also not aware of anyone calling out to "get the revolution going". The German Linkspartei of today is in most positions comparable to the mainstream Social democracy/trade unions of the mid/late 1970s. They are very far from revolutionary communism despite some rhetorics of both supporters and opponents. It is only because of the thousandfold repetition that "everyone shifted to the Left" and the harping about the connections to the SED (while the very same connections between the Blockparteien that fused with their Western analogues are cavalierly ignored) that makes some people believe they are far Left. They are not.

Likewise, CSU or AfD are not "far right", at least not in toto, although the latter have some unsavory elements, there is still a considerable distance to the NPD and their ilk.

Well, I am not 100% familar with the internal workings and fractions of "the Left", but wasn't Wagenknecht actually a member of the Communist Platform within the party? So her waiting for the revolution is really not that far off.

I know Kipping and Wissler (not sure about her though) are members of the Liberal Socialism (or what they call themselves) platform. Their thing is Socialism needs a Free Person to work. (not going to engage into the Philosophical debate what is freedom/a free person). 

About the SED past. Well, if you look at the attitudes and values of the elderly voters in Eastern Germany, I wouldn't be too sure they have are more left leaning folks than their counterparts in the West. It simply used to be the party of Eastern Germany.

How much difference there actually is between Höcke and Pastörs, I wouldn't think there's really that much of a difference. 

7 hours ago, Arakan said:

allright, I get it you dont like the CSU. I am very sorry but I have to tell you that your perception bias doesnt allow me to have a serious discussion with you about CSU policies. You pick some random examples and define everything with that. makes no sense, at all. This is not how inductive reasoning works. 

Ahum, you keep on repeating that the CSU is fundamentally different from the AfD. I just keep on pointing out, how the CSU is using the same talking points. And I really did not make up that Seehofer really couldn't say what's the difference between his (and your) party platform and the AfD, when he was asked by Kleber. And the ZDF is the more conservative leaning of the two public networks. And you keep on saying, the CSU is different from the AfD, yet you fail to say how they differ exactly. And no. Just claiming the CSU is different because they are democratic, pro European etc. does not cut it, when the relevant actors make statements that suggest the contrary. Scheuer actually made that statement, that the worst refugee is the ministering football playing Senegalese, who has been in Germany for more than three years. Because you will never ever get him deported, again. A statement that was so cringeworthy the Catholic spoke out against it. I mean, I could understand your outrage to some degree, if I had used Herrmann's "wonderful Negro" quote. 

Edited by Notone

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Höcke is far right (or maybe just a loudmouth) within the AfD, they have plenty of others who are basically frustrated FDP voters who would like to get out of the EURO, then traditionalists like Gauland who are frustrated with the "left shift" of the CDU in social matters (gays, women's rights etc.) It is a very diverse bunch.

As for the left, forget about names, look at the positions and they really are not much different from what used to be mainstream social democracy. If you are too young to remember, look them up somewhere.

As unpopular it might be, I really think that with crying "extremist!", "far left/right", Nazi, Commie etc. at the slightest hint of positions that are not the current mainstream it is tried to force everyone into a very narrow framework of positions and that this is much worse for political culture and democracy than having a real communist and a monarchist catholic and a nationalist or whatever party with a few percent in the parliament.

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I am not too big a fan of the 5% hurdle for that reason, among others. In 2013, it effectively eliminated around 15% of the vote. I'm not opposed to some measure against the rise of splinter parties, but when you have 10% of the population voting for three different strands of classical liberalism (social liberal Pirates, neo-liberal FDP and national-liberal AfD, the latter has taken a clear right shift since Lucke left) resulting in no liberal representation whatsoever, that system has just failed. I'd suggest something like a revised 5% hurdle which excludes the smallest parties which have less than 5% of the vote, unless the vote total of these parties exceeds 5%, in which case the largest of them gains their seats until the vote total of splinter parites once again drop below 5%. In case of 2013, that would have meant FDP, AfD and Pirates represented, with a total of 11% of the vote added to the Bundestag.

Edited by theguyfromtheVale

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9 hours ago, Jo498 said:

then traditionalists like Gauland who are frustrated with the "left shift" of the CDU in social matters (gays, women's rights etc.) It is a very diverse bunch.

"Traditionalist". Not the word I would have used. But that rightwing blowhard really is one of the actors that would fit neatly into the CSU. 

9 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Höcke is far right (or maybe just a loudmouth) within the AfD,

Yes, he is far right within the AfD, but he really isn't the sole voice singing that tune there, and who is openly courting NPD voters (there are few others too). Funny quote from Pastör's about Höcke. "He is copying my speeches. The difference is, when I say stuff like that, I find myself in court, and he finds himself on TV." As much as I enjoy Pastör's crying and watch the decline of the NPD, but that doesn't mean he didn't have a point there. If you go to bed with that bunch, you have to live with the labels attached to it. And that some really unsavory positions become more acceptable should be a reason to be concerned.

9 hours ago, Jo498 said:

As for the left, forget about names, look at the positions and they really are not much different from what used to be mainstream social democracy. If you are too young to remember, look them up somewhere.

Not sure what your point is on this one actually. I will try to answer it the way I understand it. Yes, there's been a political shift within the SPD (and also the CDU). And the so called Left has picked up on some older SPD positions. That doesn't mean, that within the PDS Left are no different views and fractions at work. And Wagenknecht used to be a member (no idea if she still is) of the more traditionalist communist platform. And that's always the more interesting part of their conventions, when the different fractions argue about "How much Socialism should be in their program." That however does really affect my two criticisms of Wagenknecht. The second one being the more important one.

1. Her rhetoric did not match her actions in the past. And that there was an apparent disconnect between message and messenger. This is my personal opinion, and I could still and understand why people were willing to look past that flaw (The Jesus popping acid bit). And since Gysi was the figurehead of the party back then, it was less problematic anyway.

2. Wagenknecht and Lafontaine's recent populist adventures into the nationalist's territory are really troublesome. And that's the dealbreaker for me or the reason why I find her pretty much unelectable. I can see from a strategic perspective, why she does that (we arrive at the Left's voting base in the East), but that crossed too many red lines for me to consider casting my vote there. And imo that also pretty much invalidated any claim to lead a left wing party. Apparently, you disagree. 

 

Edited by Notone

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Some media obviously love to paint Wagenknecht and Lafo as "nationalist" because of criticism of the current brand of globalism and the EU. This seems to me like the strategy of painting any criticism of Israel as antisemitism.

It is obvious that all parties except for the far right have the problem that they enthusiastically supported Europe, EU, the Euro, globalism, open borders etc. in the past. And now they have to deal with a large part of the populace that is not happy about all these things and blames their less than great economical situation on them (and also projects vague fears).

As I have pointed out several times. e.g. against suggestions by Happy Ent that the left should turn more nationalist protectionist for the obvious reason that welfare state and open borders does not go together well, the Left (incl. SPD) has a particular problem here because of the Internationalist bent (at least in theory) of almost all communist, socialist, worker's movements. This really is a dilemma with no easy way out because there are/were also very good reasons why socialism has to be internationalist (in nuce: because capitalism is internationalist).

So the Left has to deal with that and has to talk about re-considering current Europeanism and globalism because it clearly worked against their clientele, their agenda and if the conflict of welfare state and open borders mentioned above is unavoidable it also show a systematic contradiction that has to be dealt with. So they have to talk about the disadvantages of a Europeanism and globalism driven by and mainly benefitting capital and the top .1% (or maybe the top 10-20%) while getting the poorer half of the population into a dire situation.

Edited by Jo498

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Good post, Jo.

To make my own position clear: I am very much European, and more precisely an Enlightenment-North-Western-secular-Protestant-welfare state-European. I am not a globalist, nor a nationalist. In particular, I am a staunch critic of multiculturalism. I do believe that Europe represents a sufficiently ideologically homogenous, economically large area that makes geopolitical sense. 

(But I’m also very much a democrat, and so far have not seen democracies that work well outside of language boundaries. This is based on my thoughts about the public sphere being a cornerstone of democracy, together with free elections. From this perspective, nationalism has a very strong argument that I am unable to counter.)

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That is all fine. Except that's not what those two knuckleheads (Lafontaine and Wagenknecht) do. They are not attacking globalisation on an occupy level, and as a criticism of the 1%. They are trying to ride a national resentment on a us versus them level. Nativism and a left policy do imo exclude each other. Pitting the poor against each other is not socialism. 

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3 hours ago, Notone said:

Pitting the poor against each other is not socialism. 

This goes to the heart of the matter.

My take: as heartbreaking as it is, I find it a correct analysis that the poor are indeed pitted against each other. You can then ask which poor you want to help, if any.

Globalism/liberalism/liberitarianism/Soros basically say that the poor should not be helped. From an economist’s point of view, they are all just labour, which ought to move freely so as to maximise growth (for the Common Good.)

The only exception to this model is indeed socialism. That is a social contract that a society can agree on. Under this social contract, there is vast redistribution of wealth so as to help the poor (Rawls’ veil of ignorance, yadda-yadda.) This is a decision that a society can make, and it can re-negotiate this social contract democratically. This is a good model, and I love it. It completely and utterly requires closed borders. It is a cold-hearted, national project. Other societies are free to imitate that model, and I hope they do. But that’s it. The social contract obviously, explicitly, and clearly favours “the poor” of the very society that agreed on the model. “Our” poor while ignoring “their” poor is the essence of social democracy (which works). Redistributing resources to “their” poor is not, and has never been, part of the social contract. It is not only not socialism, it is nothing—no coherent political ideology works like that. 

Social democracy is a rational, nationalist, cold-hearted distributional model. It rests on two pillars: strong redistribution of resources and democratic elections. Both of these pillars (but in particular the first) require extremely restricted immigration, and have always done. Despite its misguided rhetoric, social democracy is not an internationalist project. It is a national project. It can be nothing else. (Though I dream of a world of lots of social democracies. I want people to share my values. I am wrong in that.) 

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I'd put it rather like that: Social democracy 2017 has to begin (and probably stay) at a national level (or maybe EU scale which is roughly the same scale as the US). But there is in no way an essential contradiction. This can be seen when looking at the times when social democracy arose or split of from the broader communist/socialist projects. The situation of the workers in late 19th and early 20th century Europe was roughly comparable to the ones in today's Asian sweatshops, African mines etc. So this is the level where socialist movements start and become powerful. There was no contradiction about internationalism then. Although of course organization always started local and when socialist parties entered national parliaments they could pass national legislation to improve the lot of the workers, redistribution of wealth etc. So the main "contradiction" is that legislation is on a national level. The second is that just being a citizen of such a social democratized nation makes one entitled to some welfare level that makes one poor in a developed country but correponds to being moderately well off in a developing country.

The first "contradiction" applies to almost everything: tax levels, regulation of banksters, safety, environment etc. So the welfare state is nothing special here. All of this is under national legislation although it can of course be internationally implemented with treaties etc. Or in institutions like the EU. The problem is simply that such international institutions have been either mostly inefficient or been "captured" by lobbyists and politicians working mainly in favor of global "elites" (polite for global .1% in wealth and maybe the top 10% of their helpers: tax lawyers, consulting firms, hedge fonds, lobbyists etc.). So there are lots of loopholes, options for all kinds of dubious deals. Employing Bulgarians sleeping in a tent or so on your construction site in Germany, as subsubsubcontractors so you can pay them a pittance. etc. But one could pass laws against that...

The way the US put enormous pressure on e.g. Switzerland after the banking crisis shows that if the most powerful western countries wanted to close tax and money-laundering offshore havens, to enforce laws in the fields mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph that are best for the 80% of their populace, they could do this next week (not all of them but the most important ones). But they don't want to. They do not even want to force the Netherlands, Luxembourg or Ireland to change their tax laws that make it possible for amazon, apple or ikea to pay almost no taxes in the countries where they make most of their money. (The same thing holds at a national level, they let the bankster lobbyist lawyers write the damn de-regulation laws around 2000 and then bailed the banksters out in 2008/09. And the population is still voting for the same politicians and does not care.)

So in a nutshell: It is not mainly a question of internal contradictions, it is a question of power. And the power is not with democratically elected institutions (or these wield the power too often according to what the lobbyists of the powerful .1% want).

The vague hope I have is that now Trump will make the connection of the "Wall street" and other business elites with the political power so obvious, that a few more people are going to wake up. But overall I am extremely pessimistic. The horrible thing is that far more horrible things have to happen for people to wake up, and then it will be too late and in any case institutions and everything are so inert that it will take forever to take action. And some actions that are taken will again be wrong and lead to more horrible stuff happening.

 

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9 hours ago, Jo498 said:

So in a nutshell: It is not mainly a question of internal contradictions, it is a question of power. And the power is not with democratically elected institutions (or these wield the power too often according to what the lobbyists of the powerful .1% want).

But it could be with democratically elected institutions. There was no reason for, say, the people of Germany or Greece to cede their power over fiscal policy. Nobody held a gun to their head. Same for labour market rules, etc. We on the Left has quietly accepted that even more power was moved away from democratically elected institutions. We have, in fact, cheered this process.

That was a mistake, or a calculated risk. We are getting hammered for this now, as we should be. We are wrong, the AfD is (pretty much) right. 

Being wrong is inevitable, being open to correction is a choice.

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Right, there were some good reasons for a tighter European cooperation, including delegating sovereignity to the EU institutions, introducing the Euro etc.; I am not sure anyone on either side of the spectrum was certain about the economic consequences but I guess that it was expected that they would be overall beneficial and in any case that peace and understanding among the European people might be worth some such sacrifices. And I would not deny that peace and understanding were achieved to some extent (I am simply too young to personally remember postwar popular animosities against Germans like in the Faulty Towers "Don' mention the war" episode). But it was a slippery slope with more and power sliding away. And very mixed blessings in the economy with winners and losers very unevenly distributed. And while it would be possible in principle to take some of that power back, I don't see how that should work practically, especially with German SPD much rather collaborating with the CDU than with the Left.

There were no explicit votes about many of these things. People who voted SPD or Green in 1998 to hope for a financial and social policy a la Lafontaine were sorely disappointed. Instead they got "Agenda 2010" with a destruction of the welfare and public pension system as well as deregulation for banksters. Also screwed were those against military action without having been attacked and without UN mandate (Kosovo 1999). And so on. So one can vote for the "Linke" because they are the only party against the welfare/pension cuts and against defending Germany in the Hindu Kush. But it doesn't help because even if there is a majority for the Left side, the SPD twice refused to use it. Overall it must be one of the most successful cases of "divide and conquer" in politics. That's why I cannot resist "klammheimliche Freude" about the rise of the AfD because this might lead to a similar split on the Right. But it doesn't help much because SPD+CDU will have >50% anyway for a while. And this is all only at the national level.  

current interview with Lafontaine

https://www.welt.de/print/welt_kompakt/debatte/article161832722/Mich-stoert-schon-die-Bezeichnung-Rot-Rot-Gruen.html

Of which the "Zeit" takes one remark out of context to associate the Left with AfD populism

http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2017-02/oskar-lafontaine-linke-abschiebungen-fluechtlinge-afd

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I really wanted to stop mocking the CSU over their bigotry and non-existent morals, esp. those they like to talk about with the C in their initials. However... it's such a target rich enviroment. And they simply keep on giving.

Clown prince: Trump's style of politics resembles Erdogan's.

Clown King: When can I visit him? Oh, btw. we should end the Russia sanctions, and we shouldn't act so high and mighty with morals. 

Da real Insane Clown Posse.

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Very minor tangent to this thread. (Since I follow Swedish politics very closely.)

The Sweden Democrats, which are the Swedish version of the “anti-immigration party” (strict immigration, socially conservative, nationalist, social democratic), split from their youth organisation SDU in 2015 over internal struggles. 

(This boils down to integration politics. The Sweden Democrats favour so-called inclusive nationalism, or “open Swedishness,” where becoming Swedish is an active choice that society should welcome and enable. Their youth organisation was dominated by ethnonationalists, where “being Swedish” is an inherited quality, like “being African–American.” This is one of the big divide among anti-immigration parties in Europe. The Sweden Democrats had 12.8% in the last election and hover between 16% and 25% in polls.)

A few days ago, the SDU people have registered a new party, so if they play their cards right there might be two viable anti-immigration parties after the next election (not to mention those established parties that have become anti-immigration over night.)

The name of the new party? Alternativ för Sverige.

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So Germany elected a new head of state. The Bundespräsident is mainly a representative figure and is not elected by popular vote but determined by something called "Federal Convention" or "Federal Assembly " (Bundesversammlung) that is the union of the members of parliament and an equal number of representatives for the states, roughly proportional to the party percentages in the state parliaments. (One reason for the strange procedure and the almost purely representative function was the powerful function of Reichspräsident in the Weimar time that supposedly facilitated the Nazi's rise to power.)

I don't even have a strong opinion on this strange voting procedure vs. a popular vote but both the old and the new president show why parties with "Alternative" in their names are rising. Because both Gauck and Steinmeier are consensus candidates supported by both of the strongest parties without any feasible alternative candidates and in both cases the consensus seemed to have been reached by some "back room deals" of the major parties. Steinmeier also shows the serious lack of "elder statesmen" in the major parties. While it has happened before it was uncommon in the last 30 years to have a cabinet minister "switching" to presidential candidate at short notice without any time between serving as a minister and there was at least the idea that the president should have some distance to party politics and realpolitik. (While I did not like them this was at least in principle true of Koehler, Gauck and Herzog and Weizsäcker, Rau and Wulf also did this well although they had been heads of German states shortly before their presidency.)

I have nothing against Steinmeier in person although it is telling that such a grey and boringly bureaucratic figure is among the most popular politicians, apparently those popularity votes are usually about "least repulsive"; he has a good chance to outperform the last three presidents despite his lack of charisma. But I dislike the backroom deal impression and that most news outlets again seem to stress the unanimity and the lack of real competition for this office as a mark of democracy which is nonsense. Even for this special office that is supposed to be "beyond party politics" (which is of course never really true) I'd prefer that there is an open debate and competition about real alternatives, not a consensus reached long ago, probably in a fashion that gave the dêmos even less influence than the particular election procedure does anyway.

When the major/established parties are not alternatives to each other, it is hardly surprising that populist Alternatives arise.

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