Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wer Merkel will, muss CDU Wählen

[ Whoever wants Merkel must vote CDU ]

Amongst the grilling of Schweinhax’n and the streaming flow of foamy beer at Sunday’s Oktoberfest party there were a few TV’s on in the background of the festivities with coverage over the national elections. The 27th was the day that would decide if Angela Merkel would remain Chancellor of Germany, and which political parties would claim majority in the Bundestag.

[ Whoever wants Merkel must vote CDU - advising people that just voting for the FDP and a schwartz-gelb coalition is not a enough to secure the currently Chancellor's position ]

I still find it interesting that Germans utilize Sundays for voting – something that I don’t thing would ever work well in the States, but before the Oktoberfest kickoff on Sunday, Angelika and Stefan both left for a few minutes to cast their votes.

I have kept my eyes open around the city over the past month hoping to find clear opinions after my very confusing research during the local elections and trying to understand how the political system worked. I have broken down the basic beliefs of the major political parties earlier in the blog, and I had also mentioned the complex coalition systems including rot-rot-grün or a Jamaica coalition as some possibilities for government results.

From my observations I was able to see some of the fears, hopes, and opinions of some German news papers, and even caught a bit of the debates on TV with Merkel questioned side by side with her current SPD rival Frank Walter Steinmeier [ Who is also the German Foreign Minister ] who was actually her partner in the Grand Coalition that was formed between the parties over the past four years [confused?].

[ Yes, we yawn! This pun was referring to the uneventful debate that really didn't offer much spark or controversy... or any of the excitement that the American elections seemed to have in the debates. But the Germans have definitely borrowed the Yes We Can phrase for many things dealing with the elections, that is for sure! ]

The big push in this election however, was Merkel’s plan to break ties with the SPD party and create a more conservative coalition with the FDP party which she felt would help Germany in this “time of economic crisis.”

[ Yellow-black CDU/FDP or Red-Black CDU/SPD grand coalition?? This was the leading question for the election day]

Over the past month, the debates in the German media was whether Germany was ready for such a conservative economic reform with smaller government as a solution for the economic crisis, or would the results enforce another four years of a Grand Coalition with the SPD party which would ultimately stall any proactive action within the government.

[ Decisions, decisions for this tight election race]

While watching TV on Sunday, the results scrolled in at the bottom of the news broadcasts, and I must say that I was actually very surprised myself. Not only was the CDC the clear majority winner, thus making Angela Merkel Chancellor for a second term, but the FDP party had gained a huge surplus in votes compared to four years ago [9.8 to 14.6 % ] landing the opportunity for Merkel to form her devised coalition plan.

[ A comedian doing an impersonation of Merkel. It was actually pretty funny - but nothing beats Tina Fey doing Palin - even if this was a man here playing the Kanzlerin! ]

The CDU party actually lost a small amount of percentage from their previous elections, but the majority was still clear compared to the opposing liberal SPD party that plummeted almost 10% less votes than they received last election, making it the worst outcome for the liberal party since WWII.

There are a number of reasons for this, some being that the concervative Schwartz-Gelb [ Black Yellow – CDU / FDP ] campaigning successfully informed the public how their plan could help Germany during the economic crisis. The other reason could have been the shock and fear that Germans displayed after the liberal extremists – Die Linke – came out stronger than anticipated in the regional elections, and Germans may have feared that SPD coalitions with a party that leans towards communism is risky to vote for the socialistic agenda. I have also read that many simply see Steinmeier as best fit as his current role as Foreign Minister.

So amongst the celebrations on TV with the crowd chanting “Angie Angie” as Angela Merkel claimed her victory, the reporters began to analyze what the election results could mean for the next four years for Germany. Guido Westerwelle, the leader of the FDP party, the party that had the biggest success story of the election, wishes to propose a business friendly free market system, and citizens are waiting to see if Merkel can keep up with these views that are known to be more radical than her party’s belief system.

Other hot topics of the election included the sending of German troops to Afghanistan [ Germany has the third largest representation in the countries conflicts ]. Also, on a social observation in Germany, it has been widely publicized about the FDP’s leader, Westerwelle’s standing as an openly gay politician. With the results supporting Merkel and Westerwelle to form a coalition with their parties, this would essentially mean that a woman and a gay male hold two of the highest positions in the German national government. America may have made major social progress with the election of Obama last year, but I feel that the results of the German election is something that won’t be seen in America any time soon.

The main political issues that will be under scrutiny and debate from Sunday’s election results will be Merkel’s new plans for tax cuts, cuts in social welfare benefits and cuts in government spending, all in her plans to shrink the power of national government with the Schwarts-Gelb coalition. It was highly doubted that Merkel would have been successful with this plan if another four years of the Grand Coalition were the result of the election, but at the same time, many experts wonder how the government can foot the bill for these projects in these trying economic times. These will all be things that I will be looking out for as the year progresses and more political news from the new coalition surfaces.

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