Punda Malidadi

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ooh, Ooh, German Politics!

So, thought Germany to itself, if Canadians can have a vote of confidence, so can we!

Actually, it was more chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of the left-of-centre SPD who invoked a vote of confidence against his own party, advising his own MPs to vote against him, so he can trigger an early election which he thinks he's more likely to win than the constitutionally mandated one in 2006. Unlike in Canada, elections cannot be called, and this loophole is the only way to get around the fixed date.

Also, for those of you who don't know about German parties:

German Parliament(Bundestag) has 601 seats total. A governing Coalition exists between the Green Party(Die Gruenen, 55 seats) and the Social Democrats(SPD, but they really aren't very social at all anymore, though still supposedly left of centre, 249 seats), and then essentially there is the opposition of the Christian Democratic Union(CDU, quite right of centre, 247 seats- and don't you just love how they have a Union in their name for good measure? Why, by that standard you might as well call a party the Progressive Conservatives!) and then the Liberals(47 seats) and three independents.

The CDU has also just made a woman their candidate for Chancellor(head of government; the president is merely the head of state and fulfills the usual purely representative funcion of one). Her name is Angela Merkel, she is from former East Germany, and mainly known for her eternal bad hair(which shows how sexist the media are).

Here's a little illustration of why I am panicking as of right now- and excerpt taken from an article in the Globe&Mail:

"She is everything that German politicians these days are not: a conservative, a former East German, an outspoken fan of George W. Bush, unmarried, unstylish, inflexible, female, boring...he[Schroeder] will be fighting an aggressive campaign led by Ms. Merkel to turn Germany's economy into a U.S.-style environment of low taxes and low benefits...Being both a woman and a Protestant makes her an oddity in Christian Democrat circles, which retain a traditionalist machismo that has disappeared from most other arenas of European politics. The fact that she is a divorcée and a figure who does not pretend to be charismatic -- she is famous in Germany for her odd soup-bowl haircuts -- lends her an air of authenticity that seems to have helped her cause. Recent opinion polls show that Germans trust her more than other politicians, though a poll late last year showed that people find her "boring."This summer's election will almost certainly be a showdown between her vision of lower unemployment and Mr. Schroeder's efforts to maintain Germany's social-safety net."

Somebody buy me a ticket to Germany! I need to go volunteer. For any of her opponents that will have me.


Blogger Steve wrote:
[12:13 AM, June 04, 2005]
1. Aren't German voters likely to punish Schroeder for cynically bringing down his own government? Because I'm pretty sure that would happen here.

2. Is this likely to hurt the Greens, what with everybody who wants to defeat the CDU being pushed into the SDP's camp? Because I'm pretty dure that would happen here, though I may be neglecting the effects of PR.

3. What are the primary differences between the CDU and the Liberals?
Blogger Catrin wrote:
[2:30 AM, June 04, 2005]
1. That was my first thought, but clearly Schroeder doesn't seem to think so.

2. It's SPD. S stands for sozialdemocratische(social democratic, P for Partei(party) and D actually stands for Deutschland(Germany). As for your question, as they sure as hell can't hope to win without the green party, it really doesn't matter between the two, as that coalition will stand if it takes a majority.

3. Off the top of my head, I would suggest that the liberals are a touch more radical when it comes to leaving the state out of everything, and that they don't share the social conservativism of the CDU/CSU, but I'd have to look this up further to say more than that.
Blogger rabebl wrote:
[5:33 AM, June 06, 2005]
Du hast da doch eine Partei vergessen, oder? Sitzen nicht noch unsere ostdeutschen Kommunisten mit 4 Sitzen im Bundestag????

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