Thursday, September 3, 2009

rot rot grün?

[ red red green? ]

Sunday evening I attended a Bbq with Eva and Lutz to some neighbors in Saarbrücken. They were having a housewarming Bbq – their house was very modern and beautiful – but the actual event of the party seemed to be the TV set up in the backyard streaming the incoming election coverage. Now, as I have already introduced a few of the many political parties in Germany, the coverage is not as simple as red or blue covered states/counties like it is in the US. The TV screen showed bar graphs with many colors and percentages representing the many political parties.

When Saarland’s results were posted, everyone watched intensely, and within minutes, when it was done, everyone was very quiet, and in fact the volume was turned down, and awkwardly, the party resumed. I was a little confused, since there was no real in depth discussions taking place, but later I realized that it may have been embarrassment, discontent, or utter disgust with the standings in this particular Bundesland.

From what I saw on the screen was a tie – the SPD paired up with die Linke had an equal amount as the CDU paired up with the FDP. What the pie charts showed on the screen was the small Green party, with only a small percent of the vote, pulling either party over the majority 50% line – meaning that it was essencially up to this small party to choose its coalition to ultimately select a majority if the left and right resumed their desires to remain separate and not form a coalition.

Confused?

This is where my research and reading started over the past week. Hold on tight. One option is of course to create a Grand Coalition – remember the opposing CDU/SPD parties forming a coalition to refrain from extremist parties having too much control. This, however, was not the initial intentions of either popular party. In regards to the Bundeslands of Thuringia and Saarland, the votes of the people spoke a different story. Die Linke actually, for their standing as a small party, increased their support, and took votes away from the social democratic SPD, which can be interpreted in the forcast for next month’s national election as: if the SPD wants to govern Germany without being the second-man behind the CDU in a Grand Coalition, then it must do so with the left.

[ "Time for Change" - sound familiar? Yes, they can.... maybe]

I think that this is where the discontent of the Germans that were present with at the party is associated. The strong support for die Linke, the extreme leftist party, seems to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of some Germans. As a matter of fact, the party is generalized by some editorialists as being comprised of former communist and disgruntled trade unionists. What makes this slide to the left so staggering for a Bundesland like Saarland is that it would be the first previously western German state to support such a leftist-socialistic party [remember, led by former communists] to support such a coalition. I think this is what concerns some people of Saarland, and for such a small Bundesland in Germany, says a lot about the current political trends here in Germany.

The CDU is still the volkspartei – the people’s party – but it doesn’t claim the stark majority that would make it a natural win for next month’s election. It seems with the current political tides, the status quo of the Grand Coalition could be inevitable, even though by many Germans this would be frowned upon as not being progressive, in either direction that they support.

As for Saarland, for those wondering – did Peter Müller win? … Did he tie? – it is already Thursday, and I really don’t know yet. It has taken me this long to just begin to comprehend the fundamental formats of the German government and its elections. What I do know are the possible coalition outcomes. A Grand Coalition is possible, though not the most desireable outcome for either the CDU or SDP, or there is a “ red red green” which comprises of a coalition of the SPD, die Linke and the Green for governing majority [ hence the colors based off of their parties political agendas] or a possible “Jamaica Alliance” which would comprise of the CDU [ their color is black ] the FDP [Yellow] and the Green party [ the alliance named after the colors of the parties matching those of the Jamaican flag].

The previous three posts are not exactly what I wanted them to be like. On Sunday I was really hoping to learn about the elections, report the results, and have a concise understanding of how things worked here in German politics. It is now Thursday, and I am left with three very generalized, convoluted posts linking together history, national coverage, local coverage, opinions and hypotheses, and overall just a confused look at what could be happening here in Germany over the next month, and ultimately for the next four years. I am still learning myself, and I am just trying to share the very unique system here, and the equally unique drama that it creates.

[ When it comes down to it : Peter Müller]

The bottom line is that the election this month will not be a landslide win, and one particular quote summed that up.

"I've heard and read a lot recently that the (general) election is already over," said Steinmeier at the SPD headquarters in Berlin. "This election night has shown that to be a huge mistake."

Now I have an entire month to observe the news around me and see how this political saga unfolds. Leave questions or comments that you want me to particularly look out for and address if you are interested in something happening here with the elections and campaigning here in Germany.

1 comment:

  1. Questions:
    What is a 'Bundesland'? From the way to talk about is sounds like a region or district, just not sure.

    How are the elections going in the area where your next host family lives? Since you will be living there by the time the elections are completed.

    Is the only way that the Chancellor can be re-elected is if she is from a coalition with the Majority?

    It only took 45 seconds for your host family to vote...so they were only offered an option to select a party/coalition? Do you not recieve an option to vote for candidates individually?

    Do Germans vote on issues like we see in America...Vote Yes on Proposal A, where Proposal A represents the issue to allow or not allow stem cell research on embryos?

    That is all I have for now...interesting posts...you do a great job of communicating a complex party system..

    Maria K.

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