The German federal election thread

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Anonymous X

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So, later this month there’s a federal election in Germany, alongside simultaneous state elections in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

So, who are the contenders? (Remember that German governments are multi-party coalitions, with rare exceptions.)

CDU/CSU – the dominant centre-right bloc formed by Christian Democratic Union, and its much more conservative Bavarian counterpart the Christian-Social Union. Led by (relatively centrist, by CDU standards) outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, who’s retiring from politics. Has governed Germany since 2005, either in coalition with the SPD (as currently) or FDP. The CDU governs seven German states as either the major or minor coalition partner, while the CSU has continuously governed Bavaria during the postwar period. The CDU/CSU chancellor candidate is Armin Laschet, Minister-president of Nordrhein-Westfalen, who has been affected in recent polling by his personal unpopularity. Parties colour: black (unofficially, but ubiquitous).

SPD – Germany’s main centre-left party and alternative party of government, formed in the European social-democratic tradition. Currently junior partner to the CDU/CSU in federal government, CDU in three states, Linke in Thuringia, and leading party in seven states (with Grüne, FDP, CDU and Linke all junior partners to various SPD Minister-presidents). Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz is generally popular, and is currently the Vice Chancellor of Germany. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is also a SPD member. Party colour: red.

Grüne – the Greens, an ecologically-aware centre-left party. Socially progressive, economically increasingly moderate. Stronger in the West, urban areas and among university graduates. Temporary polled higher than the SPD or even the CDU/CSU earlier this year, but declined due to the unexpected revival of the SPD and the struggles of chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock. Preferred coalition partner of the SPD, whom they govern with in several states, and in federal government 1998–2005. However, the Greens are also happy to govern with the CDU – Baden-Württemberg is currently governed by a Green Minister-president with CDU as minor partners, while Saschen-Anhalt and Brandenburg have SPD/CDU/Grüne (“Kenya”) coalition governments. Party colour: green, obv.
FDP – Germany’s traditional postwar third party; a “liberal” party, but not in the sense commonly known in North America or Britain. To the right of the CDU/CSU on economics, a big-business neoliberal party, but all over the place on social issues. Often has a stink of libertarian edgelord about it. Currently questioning the legitimacy of pandemic lockdowns. Prefers coalitions with the CDU/CSU, as currently in Nord Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, but is also currently in a “traffic-light” coalition with SPD and Grünen in Rhineland-Pflaz. (Also notoriously had a Minister-president of Thuringia for a day or two last February with the ‘help’ of the AfD.) Party colour: yellow.

AfD – a ‘populist’ far-right party, borderline if not actually neofascist in places. Unlike the traditional blood-and-soil parties of its type, generally neoliberal rather than state-interventionist in economics, being to the right of FDP on some issues. Stronger in the former East Germany. None of the mainstream parties will form a coalition with the AfD, so has no realistic chance of entering government. Currently exploiting anti-lockdown and anti-vaxx feelings. Party colour: blue (official), brown (some media).

Die Linke – an overtly socialist party, legal successor to the SED, the East German communist party. Stronger in the East. Pro-Russia and europhobic in foreign policy, populist and rather nativist, making it somewhat similar to AfD in places. Would like a “red-red green coalition” with the SPD and Greens, but those parties would be reluctant to form a federal government with Die Linke (despite governing that way in Bremen and Thuringia, the latter with a Linke Minister-president). Party colour: red (official), dark red or purple (media).

Freie Wähler – “Free Voters”, a small conservative party made up of associations at state level. Unlikely to enter the Federal Parliament, but could surprise us. Currently junior partner to the CSU in the government of Bavaria. Party colour: orange.
 

Anonymous X

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So who do like for the outcome?
If you’re asking who I’d vote for if I was German… SPD, as I’m your generic centre-left voter. Second choice Grünen, depending on where I hypothetically lived in Germany.

If you’re asking who I think will win… I think SPD will narrowly win and there will be a SPD-lead government, most likely three-party coalition. I don’t think they’ll be enough seats for a SPD+Grüne coalition, or that the SPD will want to govern with CDU/CSU again in another grand coalition if they can avoid it.

(My girlfriend already voted via post, FWIW. As long as the AfD don’t get into power, or there isn’t a CDU/CSU+FDP government, I don’t think she minds enormously on the outcome. Living in Britain and putting up with the shit going on here, I guess to her German politics seems by comparison very democratic and super-progressive.)
 

Teufel

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It's been kind of heartening to see some of the Green parties rise in Europe, not so much because of any climate concern or my own personal alignment with their politics, but it seems (to me as a casual outside observer) like they've matured and worked to become less clown shoes. Something other than de-evolution in modern politics is refreshing even if it's on another continent.
 

Anonymous X

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It's been kind of heartening to see some of the Green parties rise in Europe, not so much because of any climate concern or my own personal alignment with their politics, but it seems (to me as a casual outside observer) like they've matured and worked to become less clown shoes. Something other than de-evolution in modern politics is refreshing even if it's on another continent.
Incidentally, I had a look into when a Green Party first entered government in Europe – assumed it was Finland in 1995, but it was actually Italy in 1993, although that only lasted a few days, because Italian politics is weird.
 

Nevermore

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So, my first post on the All-New, All-Different Allspark V1.2, and it's the thread about my country's upcoming election.

I have to be careful about separate my positions here, because I'm also a poll worker, and as such, I have to be neutral.

As a citizen, though, I lean left, and will probably vote green again, like I did during some of the previous elections. My first vote ever as a young adult back in 1998 was for the SPD, which subsequently came to power under chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who gave the party a severe neo-liberal shift, giving us those dreaded Hartz laws that put unemployed people under enormous duress. Ultimately, this burned me on the SPD to this very day.

I'd love to vote for Die Linke, but their unwavering support for Russia in general and Putin in particular makes me want to punch some sense into them. Yes, I understand peace is better than war, but there's a difference between "pursuing peaceful relations" and "unconditional submission".

Years ago, I voted for the Pirate Party during that brief period when they were actually a serious party that didn't scare off all their figureheads with all their in-fighting and backstabbing. I also voted for Die Partei once or twice, a satire party that presents itself as an alternative for voters who want to protest against the established parties but don't want to support the right-wing AfD just out of spite.

But yeah, I'm pretty sure the Greens will get my vote this year, unless they mess up spectacularly within the next two weeks.
 

Anonymous X

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The UK and American media are just as bad at reporting on German elections, I see…
 

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Anonymous X

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Also, the obligatory “the EU is imminently about to collapse” take, which we’ve had daily in the British media for the last five and a half years.

Edit: plus if you only ever read and watched the British media, you’d think that Merkel and the CDU are centre-left social liberals, AfD was a regular conservative party and the SPD and Greens were borderline communists.
 
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Anonymous X

Member
Citizen
So, my first post on the All-New, All-Different Allspark V1.2, and it's the thread about my country's upcoming election.

I have to be careful about separate my positions here, because I'm also a poll worker, and as such, I have to be neutral.

As a citizen, though, I lean left, and will probably vote green again, like I did during some of the previous elections. My first vote ever as a young adult back in 1998 was for the SPD, which subsequently came to power under chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who gave the party a severe neo-liberal shift, giving us those dreaded Hartz laws that put unemployed people under enormous duress. Ultimately, this burned me on the SPD to this very day.

I'd love to vote for Die Linke, but their unwavering support for Russia in general and Putin in particular makes me want to punch some sense into them. Yes, I understand peace is better than war, but there's a difference between "pursuing peaceful relations" and "unconditional submission".

Years ago, I voted for the Pirate Party during that brief period when they were actually a serious party that didn't scare off all their figureheads with all their in-fighting and backstabbing. I also voted for Die Partei once or twice, a satire party that presents itself as an alternative for voters who want to protest against the established parties but don't want to support the right-wing AfD just out of spite.

But yeah, I'm pretty sure the Greens will get my vote this year, unless they mess up spectacularly within the next two weeks.
I know a fair number of Germans who feel similar about the SPD, despite it otherwise being perhaps their natural party. The legacy of the Hartz IV ‘reforms’, and similar have really harmed the SPD, just as (I’d argue) the welfare cuts and payroll tax changes during Gordon Brown’s premiership still harm Labour, much as that gets overlooked.

I like a lot about the German Greens, as a generically centre-left guy. A modern type of centre-left party in many ways, even beyond the ecological stuff. Unfortunately, the UK equivalent are amateurish and old-fashioned, and more like Die Linke in foreign policy.

(Speaking of Die Linke, they seem to be really contentious even in the east. My girlfriend has said she has older relatives who’d never talk to you again if you ever admitted voting for Linke.)

I also remember the pirates… Seemed to be a whole bunch of those parties emerging a decade ago, and they quickly fizzled out, except in the Czech Republic, where the “Piráti” replaced the Czech Social Democrats the main centre-left party. (There’s also the Five Star Movement in Italy, which took many Pirate and Green ideas, but married them to populist anti-immigration rhetoric and conspiracy theorising.)
 

Nevermore

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Major German political parties explained:

The German federal election voting system explained:
 
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Nevermore

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Electing the chancellor explained:

Meanwhile, the minister president (German equivalent of a governor) of the federal state of Bavaria, Markus Söder, a member of the CSU (the Bavarian counterpart to the conservative CDU that's represented in the other fifteen German states, aka current chancellor Angela Merkel's party) has gotten himself into hot water by making a "joking" remark during a public speech about deliberaterly deceiving friends and family who are known to vote for another party regarding the day of the election. If they don't vote CSU, tell them the election is a week later, he said.

Since deceiving someone about an election is against the law, he's currently being investigated by the authorities. Most people at the very least agree that it was a very bad "joke".
 

Nevermore

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Citizen
CDU candidate Armin Laschet screwed up, dropping his ballot in front of a camera. The problem was that he hadn't folded his ballot the correct way, which is designed to ensure the secrecy of the ballot is maintained. The way he held the ballot, his vote was visible. Since German elections are required by law to be secret, Laschet thus violated the law, although it appears this will have no consequence.
 

Nevermore

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Translated: the SPD candidate won the seat vacated by Angela Merkel, rather than her own CDU party.

In more detail: The chancellor of Germany is usually also a member of the Bundestag, i.e. a member of our house of representatives. That's not a requirement by any means, but it's how it's typically handled - out of its elected members, the Bundestag traditionally appoints a chancellor (though legally, it could be any citizen over the age of 18), which usually happens to be the primary candidate of the party with the largest amount of votes.

During the past few terms, Angela Merkel has always won a direct seat as a candidate for her district, but now that she has decided not to run for office again, the candidate from her own party that represents Merkel's district lost the seat to a candidate from the main opposing party.

At this point, the media are calling it a major loss for the CDU and a "big return" for the SPD, though in reality, both main parties combined only barely scratch the 50 percent margin, which makes forming a government coalition rather... interesting.

Possible combinations that are being tossed around are a Grand Coalition (the traditional name for a CDU/SPD coalition, which we have had for the past two terms); a "traffic light" coalition between the SPD, the FDP and the Greens; and a "Jamaica" coalition between the CDU, the FDP and the Greens. Less realistic are variations of a Grand Coalition that include a third party ("Kenya" including the Greens, or "Germany" which includes the FDP), since a third party wouldn't be necessary in this case. (For those wondering, those fancy nicknames refer to the colors traditionally associated with those parties, as outlined by Anonymous X above.)

So what will happen now is that the two smaller parties get into talks, and see if they can agree on which of the two bigger parties they prefer to form a three party coalition with. If those talks fail, we're probably in for yet another Grand Coalition, though this time with the SPD as the bigger partner.
 
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Nevermore

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Citizen
In other news, there have been some hiccups in the German capital of Berlin, where the federal election was held in conjunction with the city-state elections (Berlin is not only a city, but also one of Germany's 16 federal states), and there have been some problems with misdirected ballots, insufficient supplies of ballots for some polling places leading to long lines in front of the polling places while the poll workers were waiting for resupplies, which was then delayed further by the Berlin Marathon, which some genius thought would be a great idea to hold on the same day as those elections.

So in other words, a typically normal day in Germany.
 

wonko the sane?

You may test that assumption at your convinience.
Citizen
It's kinda comforting to know that the place in the world that's usually referred to as efficient, reasonable and intelligent is still just as fucked up as the rest of us.

Oh, no, wait. No, it's not. It's the opposite of that.
 
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