I Don’t Have Much to Say on the German Election Results

There is a lot not to like about Angela Merkel and the gains by the far-right are troublesome but by the standards of everybody else (e.g. Brexit, Trump), the outcome could have been far, far worse https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/25/germany-elections-merkel-coalition-government

It is sad though that we need to be relieved when a modern democratic country manages to not undermine itself at the polls. Change has become alarming but at the same time change is vital to democracy.

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12 thoughts on “I Don’t Have Much to Say on the German Election Results

  1. Actually, speaking as someone who actually is impacted by this election, there is a lot to like about Angela Merkel. Now I’m normally not a fan of the conservative CDU at all, but I think Angela Merkel does a very good job as chancellor, much better than her three last predecessors (Willy Brandt resigned when I was a baby, so I have no memories of his chancellorship). The economy is doing well, the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 25 years (pre-1990 figures are not comparable anyway), we have full marriage equality and are well on the way to shutting down the last nuclear reactors and switching completely to renewables. Things are not perfect in Germany, but in general we are a lot better off than many other western countries. Besides, Angela Merkel finally took the “Christian” in the name of her party seriously and welcomed refugees fleeing war and terror to Germany, while most other western countries, including the US, UK and Australia, shirk their responsibilities in that regard. Finally, she quietly removed a lot of the racist and xenophobic reactionaries from her party, making the CDU a viable alternative for many voters who would never have considered them back in the Kohl days. Yes, she’s calm, measured and rather dull as a person, but I’d rather have a dull and calm chancellor than some of the incompetent nutters governing elsewhere.

    Regarding her main opponent, I actually liked Martin Schulz as president of the European parliament, but his campaign was an unmitigated disaster. Railing against social service cuts your own party instigated while last in power does not make you believable. And besides, given the track record of the SPD, whose three chancellors post-1945 all resigned prematurely, I can understand why people don’t trust them to govern. Never mind that Schulz continued that trend on election night by declaring that his party wants no part of the next German government, which is a crappy thing to do, especially during a crisis. I like the idea of the SPD, but the reality has been a huge disappointment at least since 1990.

    The fact that Angela Merkel will remain chancellor unless something unforeseen happens is about the only good thing about yesterday. The fact that 13% of all Germans (and even more in former East Germany, which has been infested by Nazis for decades now) have voted for a racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, homophobic and anti-feminist party is a disgrace. Their voters are the usual mediocre white people who can’t tolerate the fact that there are people who are not like them, i.e. the same sort of deplorables who voted for Trump and Brexit. I’m genuinely scared of the AfD and its voters, because I’m everything they hate. And their leader pretty much announced on election night he was going to hunt his opponents, which is an outright threat. Right now they have no power and no one will talk to them or form a government with them, but I worry that they won’t just vanish and eventually some politician desperate for power will form a government with them.

    BTW, for a good English language overview written by actual Germans and free of British and American anti-German bias (and the countries who voted for Trump and Brexit have no right to criticise us) see Deutsche Welle: http://www.dw.com/en/german-election-results-disappointing-victory-for-angela-merkel-as-cdu-sinks-nationalist-afd-surges/a-40666430

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    1. Let us all take comfort in the fact that one of AfD’s leaders has already split from the party.

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      1. Kind of poetic justice, considering that Frauke Petry once caused her predecessor Bernd Lucke to split, because he wasn’t radical rightwing enough and now the same thing happens to her, because she no longer is radical enough for the even worse people who followed. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Plus, an AfD splintered into rightwing extremists who at least maintain a respectable veneer and outright Nazis is less dangerous than a united AfD. Luckily, so far most of our far right parties have been pretty incompetent and the AfD seems to follow in their footsteps.

        Coincidentally, Bernd Lucke, the guy who was deposed by Frauke Petry for not being radical enough, wanted to force German women to have at least three children (i.e. he thought The Handmaid’s Tale was a good idea), but drew the line at blatant xenophobia and racism. Frauke Petry advocated for shooting refugees at the border (particularly horrible coming someone from East Germany, where people trying to flee were actually shot at the border within Petry’s lifetime), but draws the line at holocaust denial and glorification of the Third Reich. So that shows you how even worse the people who are in charge now are.

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      2. The AfD actually had a campaign poster to that effect, an image of a pregnant woman with the text “We don’t need any immigrants, we make our own new Germans.” The poster caused a bit of a stir, not just because it was awful, but also because the AfD had bought the image from a stock photo site and ignored the restrictions on using stock photos in political context. Eventually the model, who’s not German but Brazilian, found out what her image was used for and was not amused. They eventually changed the poster to cut off her face, which is even more Handmaid’s Tale like.

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    2. A key element here is good stewardship and Merkel clearly has done that well. In addition she has avoided the situation that Cameron had and that Turnbull currently has of having to manage a more ideologically extreme section within her government (I assume because of Germany having a broader range of parties rather than 2 and a bit parties of the Uk)

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      1. Merkel has quietly gotten rid of many of the more reactionary people in her own party by shuffling them off to cushy posts without influence. There still is the CSU, the CDU’s sister party which only exists in Bavaria and which is a lot more conservative and xenophobic (and a lot more Catholic) than the main CDU. But frankly, the CSU is an anachronism that should either integrate with the main CDU or split off for good. They also have way too much influence for what is a regional party limited to one state only.

        But due to the multi party system in Germany it is easier for politicians to switch parties, if they move away from their previous party or vice versa. And indeed, this has happened several times. The best known examples are probably Otto Schily, who started out in the Green Party and eventually wound up on the right of the SPD, and Oskar Lafontaine who started out in the SPD, would have been chancellor in 1991 if the bloody unification hadn’t happened, then left the SPD as it moved further right, joined the Left Party, only to move to the right himself. The most recent example of a political party switch happened in my home state of Lower Saxony where a member of the state parliament switched from the Green party to the CDU, causing the state government to implode.

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    3. It does seem sensible for the SPD to declare that they won’t be a part of the government though when in theory this means that they can be the “official” opposition, rather than letting the AfD gain that benefit by default.
      And they do need to figure out where they are going too; their radical left is starting to emerge too, so they are being eaten from both ends.

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      1. The Left Party has been around since the 1990s, growing out of the old East German Communist Party which still attracted disaffected voters in former East Germany. When the SPD gradually moved to the right in the 1990s, they gained votes from disappointed former SPD voters in the West. So the Left Party isn’t exactly a new phenomenon (and some of their leaders also seem to make the same mistakes the SPD made in the 1990s, pandering to voters they think they should have rather than to the voters they actually have).

        If this were an ordinary election, I’d also support the decision of the SPD to choose the opposition role, though I do think they should at least talk to the CDU to see if there is common ground to be found rather than categorically saying “No”. However, this isn’t an ordinary election. And given the threat of the AfD and also the threat a new election would see Merkel step down and push the CDU rightwards again, I think we need a stable government with a decent majority. And a great coalition seems a lot more stable than a Jamaica coalition between the CDU, the pro-business liberal FDP and the Greens. Now the CDU and the FDP are largely pragmatic, but not all of the Greens are. And then there are the Bavarian divas of the CDU.

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      2. Problem is, the SPD always loses in a great coalition and even this time, where pushed for a lot of reform, that would have never worked without them, the lost again. So it makes sense to go into the opposition.
        I would be very surprised if we get a 4-party-coalition running and Im almost certain that there will be new elections – the question is just if they are able to try for that coaltion and it breaks apart or if they just give up before that.
        If there will be new elections Merkel certainly wont run anymore. And then everything is possible.

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  2. In Bavaria, the AFD won big, too. (In some placess they were the second bigest party)
    As someone from Bavaria, this vote was not easy. (I would be a CDUvoter if I lived somewhere else this time)
    I do belive that if there is a new election soon, Merkel would run again, no reason not to,

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