Thursday, August 27, 2009

Die Kanzlerin kommt

[ The Chancellor is coming ]

It is campaign season here in Germany with major elections taking place, much like we had in America just last year, and I get to experience the excitement of a election environment once more. Tuesday, while coming back from my daily bus trip home, I saw one of the many campaign posters along the bus stops and corner posts. However, one particular poster caught my eye. It had a picture of the current chancellor of Germany, the very well known and internationally acclaimed Angela Merkel, Germany’s current chancellor and highest political figure.

Once home I had to share the information with my host family.

Die Kanzlerin kommt! Morgen kommt die Kanzlerin!

The Chancellor of Germany was coming tomorrow to a rally for the current Christian Democratic Union [CDU - one of the major political parties] representative campaign for local Peter Müller, apparently a favorite to win for the region. Her guest appearance with the local candidate from her own party seemed to be rather spontaneous, and even broadcasted discretely – I did not notice the new posters with the information about the rally until the day before [reminding me how spontaneous – and thrilling – it was when, then still democratic party candidate, Barack Obama came to Troy, Michigan and I was able to attend the very exciting rally]. I think this surprised many other people because Saarland is a small Bundesland in Germany, and I don’t think many expected the Chancellor to make an appearance during her own campaign trail in this part of the country.

Adriane was also very interested, and the next day both of us planned to go and attend the rally. Wednesday was very exciting since many of us Americans were discussing the event of the afternoon during class. When I got home and met with Adriane, we both headed off to the Congresshalle of Saarbrücken where the event was filling up fast. Once there, volunteers in yellow PMT [Peter Müller Team] t-shirts were passing out posters and flags and after being handed one, Adriane and I did our best to wedge our way in to be as close to the excitement as possible.

[The colors of my outfit - ... and shoes - were merely a coincidence. But I did match the campaign colors!]

The event was crowded and hot since many people were coming to hear some very prominent politicians speak, and most likely also catch a snapshot of the Chancellor herself. The event started at six with some entertainment, and a band came out and *tried* to get the audience pumped. At first I was trying to comprehend the environment. Adriane and I were definitely some of the youngest people there other than the volunteer workers. Everyone was an older generation, which was possibly because of the fact that the CDU is one of the conservative parties in Germany – but maybe also just the fact that I was used to this past 2008 election in America being so inspiring to people in my generation, and thus very loud, highly attended, and ultimately, very celebratory.

The Germans were initially pretty stone-faced during the first band [which was admittedly very entertaining – being inside the concert hall, it was like attending a concert!]. There was not just one group that entertained, however. The next group was a pop group – very reminiscent of the 90’s with their style… and lip-synching – but very cool with lots of acrobatics, stunts, jump roping


… and


… fire?



Yes, this campaign rally finally started heating up, and with the next entertaining group, the German audience began to clap, cheer, and bop in their seats.

The final entertaining group was a bit humorous for me, but sang some good motown oldies very well. Introducing – The American Divas! No joke there, but the American Divas came out and sang some classics. They spoke in English, and very cheesily introduced the man of the hour, Herr Peter Müller himself. How?:

We all know we are one big family here. Let’s hear it for Peter Müller!

[* Cue – We are Family*]

As lame as it sounds, the whole crowd started clapping away – Peter! Peter! – all to the beat of We are Family, and then the yellow t-shirt clad volunteers made a human tunnel for him and many other political figures to make their walk to the stage.

The chanting and excitement finally reached a peak, and it was what I was hoping for. The rally may not have had that inspirational spark, that was so special about the Obama rally, but this was pretty cool itself.

There were two speeches made by different politicians at this point. One was the mayor of Hamburg, and the other was a prominent politician from Luxembourg, a very important neighbor to Saarland. The mayor from Hamburg was able to get some good laughs out of the croud.

I have officially helped the economy in this region – I purchased a new jacket today… for 72 Euros. But I will admit that the food and scenery is much more beautiful here in Saarbrücken.

[...what does that mean for me when I move to the north in a few months… ]


Other than a few puns, and some vocabulary here and there, the speeches were difficult to follow. But I still was able to take in all the excitement of the event – finally the chancellor was making her entrance.

Welcomed with a very impressive introduction – I was able to catch and understand “Forbes Magazine most powerful woman in the world 4 years in a row” – The chancellor made her entrance to very large applause.

Angela Merkel was the first female leader of her political party, the CDU, and is now the first woman to hold the office of Chancellor in Germany. Amongst her accomplishments include being the second woman to ever chair the G8 summit as well as sustaining a low unemployment rate in Germany during times of economic slumps. As of now, with the current economic struggles in the world economy, as well as other international issues, she has many things to address to her people as she vies for her reelection here in Germany.

[ Quieting down the very excited crowd. ]

It was a very surreal experience since this woman really was one of the most powerful and important people in the world. She is the highest political figure in the German government, the nation with the largest economy in Europe and the 3rd largest in the world, and has earned very high approval ratings within her own country as well as abroad.

Her history is unique, and her political views and standing have even a bit more drama, and I would like to incorporate a bit of those details later as I cover more about the elections taking place over the next few weeks. Listening to her speech was difficult for me to understand still at this point, but even so, being just yards away from such a high political figure was exciting. What was very unique to me was hearing how she spoke, very clear and punctuated, but also seemingly down to earth and humble. Many people in the crowd had signs that read “Angie” and people would chant when she finished speaking.

The event was very fun, and a very unique and special thing for me to witness here in Germany. It is one of the special things that I could only experience this year here in Germany during the elections, so I consider myself lucky. The event was something I was not expecting to experience at all this year, let alone this soon, but it has definitely inspired me further to research a bit more about the German political scene and observe what the people here really believe in and expect out of the politicians they vote for. It gives a great perspective on the mind frame of the collective German people.