In less than a week, (on September 22nd to be precise), Germany goes to the polls, in what, arguably, could be the most important European election of the decade. |
So let us see what visions the political parties have:
Tiny Utopias: German Parties Create Mini Fantasy Worlds
Because of the way Germany's electoral system works, parties can rarely realize their political visions without having to make concessions to at least one coalition partner. But recently, Miniatur Wonderland, a Hamburg miniature railway museum, gave the country's main political players the opportunity to create their very own model of a perfect Germany in the run-up to the election....
German Elections 2013
Stickman 29,666 posts
Seen 15 hours ago
Registered 10 years ago
I like that Merkin one.
THIS SPACE FOR RENT
Three days to go...
One party to look out for:
Alternative for Germany (in German: Alternative für Deutschland -- AfD) is the newest party in Germany's political landscape. Officially founded on April 14, 2013, it is thus far largely a single-issue party: It wants to do away with the euro, or at least get Germany to back out of the European common currency zone.They have some fans in the UK:
The party is led by Bernd Lucke, 50, a professor of macroeconomics at the University of Hamburg, whose background is typical for the party's founding members. Rather than a party of dissatisfied cranks, it has become a collection of (mostly male) well-off professionals and economic experts who are opposed to ongoing efforts to prop up the euro with taxpayer money.
When Bernd Lucke, the head of the euroskeptic party Alternative for Germany (AfD), visited the United Kingdom before the summer break, he was courted as an honored guest. Lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party met with him in private. The country's main news show, BBC's "Newsnight," brought him in for a prime-time studio interview. Instead of being berated as a right-wing populist, he was praised for his intelligence.Will they cross the 5% threshold? Will the FDP fail to do the same? Where will the Pirates be? The tension mounts.
"He is an extremely impressive figure", says Douglas Carswell, one of the leading euroskeptics of the Conservative Party. "He's very highly thought of by conservatives."
The AfD's election results are eagerly awaited in the UK, where the anti-euro party is seen as an overdue new arrival on the German political scene. Conservatives like Carswell hope to find kindred spirits in Germany. While the AfD has been marginalized in the election campaign, the British don't see it as disreputable. "In Britain, Lucke would be a mainstream moderate Conservative," says Carswell. "He'd probably be a member of cabinet."
(Though maybe I'm the only one who feels this way.)
The big day is here: Germany Votes!
But not so many apparently:
Non-voting evidently goes hand in hand with a period in history in which nothing is apparently more cumbersome than obligations and commitments. It matches a generation that is more freewheeling and -- in contrast to its predecessor -- doesn't feel attached to either a particular milieu or political trend.
What's more, there is the sneaking suspicion that key political decisions are no longer made in Berlin, but by bureaucrats in Brussels or directly by speculators on Wall Street. A favorite non-voter adage is that you are more likely to be killed by a speeding car on your way to the polling station than to influence politics by casting your vote. Traditional non-voters used to say: Those at the top do whatever they want anyway. The new non-voters say: Those at the top have no influence anyway.
This lethargy has transformed large segments of the German population into selfish navel-gazers. They would much rather invest their time in projects that promise direct benefits for them and their families: a spruced-up day care center, green traffic islands in the neighborhood or perhaps protests against noise from aircraft flying overhead. Their main concern is their own immediate environment and anything that works to their advantage -- not the common good. And they are certainly not concerned about the current state of democracy.
Over two centuries ago, German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote that there are active citizens and wards of the state. According to Kant, active citizens have all their rights, in particular the right to vote. By contrast, he noted, wards of the state don't have this right. According to this logic, those who voluntarily don't vote are making themselves into wards of the state.
So here are the results:
Neither the FDP nor AfD managed to cross the 5% hurdle, providing the paradoxical result that whilst the electorate shifted rightwards, the Bundestag shifts leftwards, with the CDU-CSU remaining the only non-left parties in it.
If the SPD had any political acumen, it would reject Merkel's overtures for a grand coalition and instead create a left-wing government with the Greens and Die Linke. That would certainly be a surprise - but it would probably be better for the SPD, for Germany and for Europe.
Salaman 19,801 posts
Seen 5 hours ago
Registered 11 years ago
AfD got surprisingly close to the 5% barrier.
Curious to see which way Merkel is going to go, now that her FDP coalition partner hasn't made it for a second term with her.