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Sunday, September 18, 2005

German elections

Not that I've been following them, really, because I'm a bit overwhelmed these days. My attitude thus far has been "Wake me when it's over". But I have to admit, it's been interesting. I wish I had time to outline the whole thing for you, because it's been crazy, but the upshot is that the main socially-liberal party has been leading Germany into economic neo-liberalism, which is basically the opposite of social liberalism (I know it's an oversimplification. I told you I was short on time), so Germans are feeling betrayed, but of course the conservatives are also pushing neo-liberalism, so who can they turn to? Bit like England in the last elections, eh? Anyway, the voting was today, and everybody's claiming victory, even though almost every party has lost ground except the Linkspartei ("Left-party") which only formed a few months ago. Neither of the two major parties has anything close to a majority, none of the three minor parties has enough to join with a major party in coalition, so either the two big ones will have to figure out how to get along, or one of them will have to form a coalition with two of the little ones.

I'm trying to find a pie chart for you (it's so cute, German political parties are color-coded)...okay, here's the Deutsche Welle site, with news about Germany in English, so you can read as much or as little as you like, and there's an election results pie-chart graphic on the right that you can click. Don't know if that will still be there when you read this, but you never know. And I can't link you to it because it's a popup. Anyway, briefly:
  • Black is the sort of stodgy conservatives - Helmut Kohl was one of those.
  • Red is the sort-of Socialists who've been in power since 1998 or so, and many Germans feel betrayed by their recent reforms, which have been a bit too business-friendly, and ordinary people are kinda starting to get screwed.
  • Yellow is the assholes, the so-called Free Democrats who advocate a totally free market and letting the poor starve. Republicans, basically.
  • Green is the Greens, the anti-war, pro-environment, pro-socialism party who believe in taxing the hell out of the filthy rich, but have lately become more friendly to business, and have therefore lost Robert's vote.
  • And purple is the newly-formed Left party, formed by disaffected former Red guys and what used to be the East German Communist party; more left than the greens.
Okay, but here is what I want you to notice: Essentially, Germany voted Left. About 52% voted for the three leftwing parties, and while this is a slim majority, it is still a majority, and it means that most Germans do not want to be like the United States, and this trend toward neo-liberalism will at least have to be slowed. And that is good news.

And one other thing: Germans are pretty smart. The press set themselves pretty heavily against the SPD (red) and consistently predicted that the CDU (black) would sweep this one - a clumsy attempt to swing the election, and it failed. Hah.

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