German Superwahljahr 2009

Discussion in 'Elections' started by 96Squig, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. 96Squig

    96Squig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Hanover
    Club:
    Hannover 96
    Country:
    Netherlands
    This year will see a lot of elections in Germany, and it may be interesting to see if the weakening of the two major parties, CDU (conservatives) and SPD (social democrats) continues.

    First of all, there are elections for the European parliament in June. Later this year, the Bundestag (the German Parlament) will be elected. Also the state parliaments of the Bundesländer Saxony, Thuringia, Saarland and there are communal elections in 8 of the 16 Bundesländer.

    In Hesse there already was the election of the state parlament, re instituting Roland Koch (CDU) as prime Minister, one of the most conservative major politicians in Germany. He governs together with the FDP (libertarians), who gained a lot of votes. In fall last year CDU and FDP did not gain a majority, but the other parties SPD, the greens and the socialist party Die Linke couldn't agree on a coalition government, weakening in first instance the SPD.

    Currently Germany is governed by a Grand Coalition between CDU and SPD, something both parties aren't too happy with. they'd prefer to coalise with a junior partner, the CDU with the FDP and the SPD with the Greens, while die Linke is seen as a pariah in politics at the counry-level.

    I don't know how interesting or popular these elections are for non-Germans or Americans, but since there's a thread on the Israeli Knesset election and a shift of power could be quite big this year in the EU's biggest memberstate it may be interesting to follow the development.


  2. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    Yeah, I'm with you...This will be a decisive year in many respects. I hope that we'll get over the political stale mate and get back to clear majorities.
  3. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    Apparently not too interesting, but anyway, here's an "interesting" article on how the internet and the young generation that has a high affinity for the Internet have a major impact on this years elections in Germany:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,641061,00.html
  4. 96Squig

    96Squig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Hanover
    Club:
    Hannover 96
    Country:
    Netherlands
    I'd say PIRATEN will get something around 2% this year. Lot of potential.


  5. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    It's really hard to tell at this point. I think they could end up anywhere between 0.5% and 5%, although probably much closer to 0.5%.

    If you look at the online communities, the Pirates seem to be extremely popular, but at the end of the day, these people are still a small minority.

    I mean the Pirate Party got 0.9% in Germany at the European elections, when the turn out was rather low. At the same time, I'd suspect that the pirates' mobilization was probably a lot higher than average.

    For the general elections, you can expect that to change. The turn out will probably be close to 80% once more...although there are many indicators that it will be lower than usual this time around. In any case, the Pirate Party will have to get a lot of new voters in order to get more than 1%.

    It could happen and if you look at the hype, it'll probably happen, but it's really a big unknown at this point.
  6. 96Squig

    96Squig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Hanover
    Club:
    Hannover 96
    Country:
    Netherlands
    The law on blocking some internet sites sparked a lot of discussion, and that was more after the European Elections I think. Everything above .5% is a succes, anyways, as it would mean more money for them. I doubt they are ready to be in the Bundestag, but something like between 3 and 4.9% would be great to shake up the bigger parties and show potential voters that their votes are not wasted when voting pirate (party not in the Bundestag = wasted vote).
  7. Borussia

    Borussia Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Location:
    Fürth near Nuremberg
    Club:
    Borussia Mönchengladbach
    Country:
    Germany
    What clearer majority than a 'grand coalition' do you want to get? :)
  8. 96Squig

    96Squig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Hanover
    Club:
    Hannover 96
    Country:
    Netherlands
    If SPD and FDP continue the way it's now there won't be something like a grand coalition in the foreseeable future.
  9. Caesar

    Caesar Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    Location:
    Oztraya
    I'm an outsider and haven't lived in Germany for several years, but I can't see the CDU or SDP doing anything but mark time or lose ground to the minor parties in the current environment.

    It will be a matter of who fares least badly, and I suspect that the conservatives will strengthen their hand compared to their coalition partners. But if the Grand Coalition falls over and SDP/FDP joins the Greens they will obviously lose out overall though - what's the likelyhood of that happening?
  10. 96Squig

    96Squig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Hanover
    Club:
    Hannover 96
    Country:
    Netherlands
    SPD and CDU/CSU are in the coalition, the FDP is amogn the greens and die Linke (the left) in the opposition at the moment, but the FDP is gainign and the SPD is loosing, if that trent continues the FDP may get more votes than the SPD in 4 years, so I was referring to that. I don't know what to expect really from the big parties, I guess an FDP/CDU/CSU coalition is likey though, don't really like that. C?U is conservatism, FDP is gonna sell it's liberal stance on civil rights to get it's ideas about the economy through (which are pro (big) business), so for me as a social-liberal person that's possibly the worst coalition possible. Oh well.
  11. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    Well, personally, I'm all for a CDU/FDP coalition.

    The only realistic alternative would be a continuation of the CDU/SPD coalition which I think should be the exception not the rule.

    The SPD will be stuck below 30% for the foreseeable future, so a SPD/Green coalition is really out of the question. If CDU/FDP won't get a majority and we'll get another "grand coalition", then I could see that the SPD will leave it within the first two years only to form a coalition with the Greens and the Left party. And if there's one thing I don't want to see, it's the communists in power.

    Maybe I should add a couple of facts, so that the non-German readers get an idea of our political system.

    First of all, let's start with the parties. There are five major parties in Germany right now who are in the "Bundestag" which is our parliament. In order to get there, you need at least 5% of the popular vote. The parties are:

    CDU/CSU: Strictly speaking these are two parties. The "Christian Democratic Union" and the "Christian Social Union". But they work pretty much as one party, since the CSU only runs in Bavaria, while the CDU only runs in all the other federal states. Together, they're often just called "The Union" and they form the conservative side of the political spectrum. Although when you compare them with the American parties, they're probably still a lot closer to the Democrats than to the Republicans.

    SPD: This stands for "Social-democratic Party of Germany". If you go way back, it was founded as a Marxist party. But during the Weimar Republic and especially after WWII, they've moved away from these extreme positions and are now much closer to the political center than to Marxist ideas. They still see themselves as the party of the working class though.

    FDP: This is the "Free Democratic Party". They stand for liberalism (but don't confuse this with the meaning the word "liberal" has taken in the US. It's not a left wing party, more like the American Libertarians, although not as extreme in their positions). For roughly 30 years after WWII, they were the "third party", meaning that only the CDU, the SPD and the FDP got more than 5%. CDU and SPD where usually close to 50% while the FDP was only slightly above 5%. Which also meant, that the FDP could decide who'd lead the country, since both, the CDU and the SPD needed the FDP if they wanted to reign. In Germany, the FDP pretty much stands for free market, small government and personal liberty.

    Greens: The Greens are a result of the Hippy movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Back then many students thought that the SPD has moved too far away from their left-wing past and formed an opposition outside of parliament, as they saw no party that represented them. The catalyst that lead to the formation of the Greens were probably two movements of the late 1970s: The pacifist movement and the anti-nuclear-power movement. The Greens have also come a long way. They started out on the very left and are now also pretty close to the political center. They still have some egalitarian (in my view utopian) views, but their mantra today is mostly "green power".

    LINKE: The left party. It goes back to the ruling socialist party of former East Germany. They've rebranded themselves from "Socialists" to "Democratic Socialists". They're as far left as possible in a democratic system, they want a big government that taxes the sh*t out of everybody, so that they can then redistribute the wealth in what they think is a fair way. They're also all for socializing banks and stuff like that. Their voters are mostly East German losers of the Reunification process, who've lost their jobs and were disillusioned that the West wasn't exactly like the commercials they could see on their TV sets in the East. In East Germany, the "LINKE" is as strong as the SPD (~23%), in the West, they're almost non-existent (~5%).



    Now here are the latest polls:
    CDU/CSU: 37%
    SPD: 20%
    FDP: 14%
    Greens: 13%
    LINKE: 11%
    others: 5%

    In order to form a government, you need a majority in parliament. Since the small parties (listed as "other") won't get seated, you roughly need 48% of the popular vote if we take these poll numbers.

    As you can deduce from my descriptions above, CDU/CSU+FDP and SPD+Greens are the common partnerships. While it is likely that the SPD will pick up some voters before the elections, a SPD+Green coalition is extremely unlikely (they'd need at least a combined 15% additionally to these poll numbers). Right now, CDU/CSU+FDP would have a majority.

    It is quite feasible though that come the elections, neither side will have a majority. And since the Greens have ruled out a partnership with the CDU/CSU, the FDP has ruled out a coalition with the SPD and the SPD has ruled out a partnership with the LINKE, the only option that would be left would be a continuation of the CDU/CSU+SPD government we have right now.

    However, as I've said above, I wouldn't trust the SPD on that. They've broken their promise before when they promised to not work with the LINKE in Hesse, only to break that promise on the night of the election. It did backfire, so the SPD won't be stupid enough to make that same move again, but it's quite possible that they'll pick a fight with the CDU/CSU in mid term so that they have an excuse for forming a new administration together with the Greens and the LINKE.
  12. Anthony

    Anthony Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 1999
    Location:
    Chicago
    Club:
    DC United
    Country:
    United States
    I am American, but my wife is a dual US-German citizen (though she does not vote in Germany). I am also a democracy geek.

    But the real reason I am interested in the election is that of all the serious political parties in the world, the FDP is probably the closest to my own political beliefs (though Germans find it funny as I am Catholic and I guess the FDP has a reputation for being areligious, if not a bit anti-religious).

    The CDU/CSU/FDP group will win the most seats, but it will be interesting to see if they get above 50% seats.
  13. Alex_K

    Alex_K Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    Braunschweig, Germany
    Club:
    Eintracht Braunschweig
    Country:
    Bhutan
    They actually got pretty much half of their votes in the West. And 5% total (significantly more in some areas) isn't exactly non-existent. And for my tastes the party isn't left enough (although there's no good alternate choice, as the Communist Party is a bunch of old geezers and the Marxist-Leninist Party is batshit insane), so I'd disagree with your far left as possible stuff.
  14. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    I wouldn't call the FDP anti-religious. They're simply areligious, meaning that Religion doesn't play a role whatsoever when it comes to their politics.

    But in Germany, religion in General doesn't really play a role. Not even within the CDU. The CSU does somewhat play with the Bavarian Catholicism, but it's still very mild compared to what goes on in the US. Nobody cares whether a politician goes to church, and religion is hardly ever evoked when it comes to political debates. And the (very) few cases where it is, it's only on a very personal level.

    Well, there is one peculiarity about the German voting system that could favor the CDU/CSU. Now this is somewhat technical, so if you're not that interested, just ignore the following part. But since you said that you're a democracy geek, you might find this interesting.

    In Germany, we have a proportional representation at heart. But we also have elements of a majority voting system. Usually, that gets evened out for the most part, but this time it could be different.

    Here is how it works:
    Every German voter gets two votes. With his first vote, he's voting for a candidate in his district (similar to the UK). The candidate who gets the most votes in a district will automatically get a seat in the Bundestag.

    The second vote is for a party and it is the "main" vote. Each party has a list for every federal state with candidates for the Bundestag and the number of MPs they get to send to Berlin is determined by the second vote (proportional voting).

    Now, for each candidate that gets voted into the Bundestag directly in his district, the party he belongs to has to cross out one name on the list for his federal state, so that the MPs are still proportionally allocated according to the second vote.

    However, if a party wins more districts directly than were allocated to them according to the second vote (no more names to cross out), they get to keep these extra MPs. They are commonly called "overhang-MPs".

    Usually, this effect is rather small, but this time, it could be different. The reason is that the CDU is rather weak, below 40%, but still the biggest party by a big margin. So it is feasible, that in some federal states, the CDU will win virtually all districts, while proportionally only getting 40% or less of the second votes. That would mean that the number of overhang-MPs could be quite big this time around and pretty much exclusively be in favor of the CDU.

    So it is possible that CDU/CSU/FDP won't get a majority in parliament according to the second votes, but that they have enough overhang-MPs to form a majority.

    At this point this is still quite speculative, but there have been several reports already on how this year, this effect could play an important role...
  15. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    Of course you're right that 5% is already way too much, but you must not forget the special circumstances.

    I see two main reasons for this:
    1) Many "leftist" voters feel alienated by the policies of the SPD over the last nine years in power.

    2) By opening up towards the LINKE, the SPD has elevated this party to a status where a vote for the LINKE is no longer a lost vote.

    As soon as one of these reasons disappears, so will the LINKE in West Germany.

    I said as far left as possible in a democratic system...demanding the socialization of banks (and AFAIK it's not only banks) to me is already beyond democratic principles. If you go any further than that, you can kiss your democracy good bye...
  16. Alex_K

    Alex_K Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    Braunschweig, Germany
    Club:
    Eintracht Braunschweig
    Country:
    Bhutan
    Well, as someone who voted for PDS in the West before it became cool I wouldn't really agree with the way too much part :p. If you exclude a local run off ballot where I voted SPD once 9 years ago (too my neverending shame, but hey, the SPD guy went against a former NPD turned CDU guy... and lost...). I have never voted for another party actually.

    I'm not too happy with some tendencies in the party, and I hate Lafontaine (especially for his xenophobic populism), but it's the closest thing to a working socialist party we got...

    I'm left of the German Left generally, and I'd nationalize the shit out of big business, but I consider myself a democrat.
  17. Anthony

    Anthony Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 1999
    Location:
    Chicago
    Club:
    DC United
    Country:
    United States
    Several people have tried to explain overhang to me and this is the first time I think I understand it.

    I had seen that there was a change in the treatment of overhang this year.

    Oh, and Alex K, if you ever come over my house I am hiding the silver! ;)
  18. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    Well, my understanding of democracy includes the protection of private property.

    Besides, the LINKE (PDS/SED) has had 40 years to show the world how to run a nationalized industry...it didn't exactly work. Actually, it is mostly their fault that East Germany is in this terrible shape today, since they've destroyed the entire economy.
  19. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    Well, actually there is no change (yet). The Supreme Court has ruled that the way it's handled right now is unconstitutional, but the changes won't come in time for this election.
    There has been a proposal by the Green party which would have eliminated overhang, but it wasn't passed.

    The point that is unconstitutional isn't overhang as such though. The Supreme Court has explicitly said that that's not the problem. It's what happens once the overhang and the list seats are added up across the borders of federal states. At that point, it can happen that a party could get more seats with less votes. This part is really messy and not even I understand it completely...I had it explained to me once by someone who's into that subject and I think I got it back then, but somehow I forgot how it works...

    Anyway, the problem became apparent in 2005, when a candidate in Dresden died and there wasn't enough time to print new ballots. So their election took place some time after everybody else voted and someone had calculated, that the CDU could actually lose a seat, should they get too many (second) votes in Dresden.

    I think it worked like this:
    The CDU guy had his district pretty much in the pocket. So assuming he would win (which he did), then the second votes became important for determining whether he'd be an overhang-MP or not. If enough people would have voted CDU with their second vote, the CDU in Saxony would have gotten an additional spot on their list. However, at the same time, the CDU of another federal state (where there was no overhang) would have lost a place on their list, since the additional votes wouldn't have been enough for an additional seat, only to change the allocation among the CDU of different federal states.

    However, if the CDU would have gotten less than usual second votes in Dresden (which they conveniently did), the CDU representative of Dresden would still go to Berlin, this time as overhang-MP, while no other list would lose a place.

    So in a case like that, less votes lead to more seats, thanks to the overhang practice, and that's the problem.

    The proposal of the Greens would have solved this by getting rid of overhang, but that's just one way of dealing with this problem. I'm sure that after the elections, we'll get a solution that keeps the overhang, but gets rid of the problem of more votes resulting in less seats, because it's in the interest of the big parties (CDU and SPD) to keep overhang seats, since it is they who profit from it.
  20. Borussia

    Borussia Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Location:
    Fürth near Nuremberg
    Club:
    Borussia Mönchengladbach
    Country:
    Germany
    I bet that this trend won't continue and that the FDP will NEVER get more votes than the SPD!

    Well, let Westerwelle dream of his "18 % + X" like Möllemann some years ago and continue ruling out any "traffic-light coalition". Damn, what a fun that would be to see his puss when he has to change his mind or stick with the opposition role again...:p


    Btw: This is "Wahlkampf à la CDU". :))

    [​IMG]
    ("We have more to offer")

    LOOOL


    Buenos noces.
  21. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    I wouldn't be so sure. I agree that it is unlikely, but not impossible.

    Just look at this scenario: this year, we'll have another "grand coalition" between CDU/CSU and SPD, which is always decremental for the big parties. Then in 2013, the SPD will be open towards a coalition with the LINKE, because they'll see no other chance of ever having a SPD chancellor again.

    Many SPD voters who are more centrist won't like that at all and will stop voting for the SPD (especially in the West) and instead vote CDU, Green or just stay at home. At the same time, the people on the left of the spectrum won't just run back to the SPD, in fact they might even lose more towards the LINKE, since they're the "original" and also have a real chance of being part of the next administration.
    Now add to that, that the CDU will also lose some voters who'd go to the FDP, et voilà, there you go...

    Not the most likely scenario, but definitely not out of the question.
  22. 96Squig

    96Squig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Hanover
    Club:
    Hannover 96
    Country:
    Netherlands
    A few points I'd like to adress:

    First of all, Benztown, when you described the parties, you left out the Greens had a fusion with Bündnis 90, a East German civil rights movement, which is another important influence in that party.
    Also PDS fusioned with WASG, which was a movement that split from the SPD and is heavily influenced by worker's unions, to form die Linke. This move brought them over the 5% treshold in Western Germany, and it's not right to say that all they do is what they did in the GDR. I agree that it's part of their past, and that it has too much influence on the party to be really good for them, but there are other influences towards their party's politics. The world won't stop turning if they came into a coalition government with the Greens and SPD. I am actually indifferent to that prospect, I think they'd do as much harm to Germany, albeit in other fields of politics, as a FDP-Union coaition. A Grand coalition erodes the power the big parties have though, which I don't think is a bad thing, we don't need 'Volksparteien' (parties that a big chunk of our population votes for) to have a working democracy.
  23. benztown

    benztown Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2005
    Club:
    VfB Stuttgart
    I didn't mention it, because I didn't think it was that important. I mean it was a symbol to merge with Bündnis 90, but I can't see any new influx that came from that. It was actually more of a takeover. But maybe you can tell me any positions that Bündnis 90 had that were new to the Greens? I am not aware of any...

    Also, remember that the Greens used to be pretty much an exclusively West German party in terms of voters, despite the merger. Only in the last couple of years did the Greens get a foot in the door in East Germany.

    Well, the WASG started out as a PDS proxy anyway. They were one of the driving forces behind the WASG, precisely because they wanted to gain ground in the West. It is true though that the Unions got more influence through that merger.

    Well, they still have to prove that. AFAIK, the LINKE never got anything close to 5% in the West, not even at the last European elections, when many potential CDU and SPD voters stayed at home. Right now they're at 5% in the polls, but I actually don't think that they'll get that many votes in the West come the election.

    Thankfully, they don't actually do much, they're mostly talking...but the talking sounds a lot like the way they talked during the good old GDR days...they're against capitalism, they're for nationalization of our industry, they're against the NATO, they're for government set wages...I mean seriously...

    Sure there are new influences, time doesn't stand still after all. But their recipes are virtually identical to 60 years ago.

    The world won't stop turning, but Germany would suffer...

    A quick look at our history:
    West Germany has been run for long stretches of time by a CDU/CSU/FDP coalition. East Germany has been ruled exclusively by the SED; the precursor to the LINKE. Now tell me which part of the country suffered more harm?...thought so....

    I'm still undecided about this. "Volksparteien" have the disadvantage that they have to cover a lot more diverging interests, which means that every voter is bound to get disappointed some way or another. It's much harder to tell where these parties stand on specific topics. So it's easier to make your voice heard by voting for smaller, more "focused" parties.

    On the other hand, if this trend continues, we're bound to get coalitions with three parties or more. That would mean that they would have a much harder time to come to terms with each other in the first place. Trying to find a common ground would be very difficult and since they had to find so many compromises, the individual voter will have the same result compared to voting for a big party.

    The compromises either take place within a big party, or between small parties. The result is similar.

    While I'm personally open to smaller parties, I think it would be dangerous if our political system would get even more fragmented. 5 parties are already too much IMHO, but it's still possible to deal with it. 6 or more parties would be a real problem. A quick look at the Weimar Republic shows how well that worked out...
  24. Alex_K

    Alex_K Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    Braunschweig, Germany
    Club:
    Eintracht Braunschweig
    Country:
    Bhutan
    Compulsory purchase exists in many democracies (it definitly does in Germany, the US and the UK).

    First of all, there's pretty much no one in the party's leadership who held a leading position in pre-reunification East Germany (hell, some prominent politicians of the Left were still teenagers at the time of re-unification). And the rest has to be seen in a historical, cold war context - which hasn't that much relevance anymore. And democratic socialism is pretty different from Soviet style politics anyway.

    When did I become Robin Hood? :p
  25. Alex_K

    Alex_K Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    Braunschweig, Germany
    Club:
    Eintracht Braunschweig
    Country:
    Bhutan
    They do well enough in big cities. It's the countryside where the party doesn't do too well in the West and which takes down the total numbers.

    During the Federal election 2005 the got over 6% in 3 western states: 6,3% in Hamburg, 8,4% in Bremen, 18,5% in the Saarland (Lafontaine bonus, but also probably because the Saarland is the poorest state in Western Germany since the entire mining industry there went belly up).

    Since then they got 7,1% in the Lower Saxony state election - and over 10% in almost all major cities of the state (Hanover, Braunschweig, Oldenburg, Göttingen and others), 8,4% in the Bremen state election, 6,4% in the Hamburg State election, and over 5% in both state elections in Hesse.

Share This Page