Chancellor Schröder and the SPD party leader Müntfering announced this evening that they will ask the Federal President to announce new general elections this autumn.
(The pic shows the conservative governed states [black] and the social-democrat governed [red] in the two noted years)
(I must add, however, that 'we' did not bad at all in our traditionally totally black village, where in all the three pollings stations, both my wife and I were 'on duty' there) the SPD only had minor losses.
Germany 'set for early election'
- however, a couple of leading conservatives (from the CDU) are opposing this. (Perhaps, they fear troubles in their own parties, since they can't decide, who will run as chancellor-candidate: the CDU's Merckel or the Bavarian CSU's Stoiber.)
Our former elected member of parliament got her seat back via the 'country list' :wink:
walter : saw the election results as they were coming "hot off the press". that's quite a shocker. i see that chancellor schroeder has called for early elections in germany for this fall; but i also read in the ...FRANKFURTER...
that the chancellor cannot simply call for earlier elections but must show that (my words)" he is no longer able to govern".
i find this rather interesting because in canada the liberal/ndp "working coalition" has just defeated a non-confidence motion on the budget by the opposition parties. (it's not a coalition in its true sense; the ndp simply supports the governing liberals as long as they feel like it). prime minister martin promised that an election will be called no later than this fall after the report by the "gomery inquiry" has been released. justice gomery is heading a commission uncovering the "misdeeds" by the governing liberals. politics has been a hot topic in canada for a few months now - rather unusual here ! hbg
Bummer. Schroeder is making a mess of things, its true, but with the CDU in power it will just be worse ... and worse still, the whole notion of a red-green government might get buried for a long, long time if the national elections will go equally badly.
Did notice that the newly founded leftwing alternative to Schroeder, the unionist, socialist WASG (Electoral Alternative Work and Social Justice), snooped 2,2% off of the SPD vote. Lot better than the postcommunist PDS did (0,9%). Not even close to actually making a difference tho, with the 5% electoral threshold you have in place. Pity about the wasted votes.
Well, the conservative (and the conservative press, like the Frankfurter) have called for new elections the last couple of weeks .... and now they present legal reasons against it
Early elections are regulated in our basic law, articles 39(1), 67 and 68:
Article 39 [Convening and legislative term]
(1) Save the following provisions, the Bundestag shall be elected for four years. Its term shall end when a new Bundestag convenes. New elections shall be held no sooner than forty-six months and no later than forty-eight months after the legislative term begins. If the Bundestag is dissolved, new elections shall be held within sixty days.
Article 67 [Constructive vote of no confidence]
(1) The Bundestag may express its lack of confidence in the Federal Chancellor only by electing a successor by the vote of a majority of its Members and requesting the Federal President to dismiss the Federal Chancellor. The Federal President must comply with the request and appoint the person elected.
(2) Forty-eight hours shall elapse between the motion and the election
Article 68 [Vote of confidence; dissolution of the Bundestag]
(1) If a motion of the Federal Chancellor for a vote of confidence is not supported by the majority of the Members of the Bundestag, the Federal President, upon the proposal of the Federal Chancellor, may dissolve the Bundestag within twenty-one days. The right of dissolution shall lapse as soon as the Bundestag elects another Federal Chancellor by the vote of a majority of its Members.
(2) Forty-eight hours shall elapse between the motion and the vote.
I'm guessing he (Schroeder) steps down soon.
<Really, really soon>
I sincerely hope so: that would bring deepest problems for the conservatives
Wow, theres an unexpected result, upon closer scrutiny. Turnout was significantly up. In fact, Schroeder's SPD hardly lost any actual votes: they got just 80,000 less on a total of 3,060,000. And the left altogether, SPD + Greens + WASG + PDS, actually increased its voter tally by 80,000.
But none of that amounted to much - in fact, it amounted to a drop of almost 6% for the SPD and almost 5% for the left altogether, because of the total turnout increasing by a striking 907,000. Which is almost exactly the extra number of votes hauled in by the Christian-Democratic opposition, which thus gained some 8%.
In contrast to the previous elections in Nordrhein-Westfalen (if memory serves me well) and in contrast to the elections last year in Saarland, it looks like the SPD did not lose this time because its voters massively stayed at home. Its because the CDU campaign apparently succeeded in upping turnout overall, and grabbing most all of the extra votes.
walter : saw a very interesting program about "east germany" (that is , the former east germany) on canadian television - CBC - just last week. it was hosted by ...JOE SCHLESINGER...
probably the CBC's most senior and most respected (former) foreign correspondent . it was a full one-hour show and included interviews with people from all walks of life - workers, former party officials, university professors - the works. the one problem that came through over-and over-again was "unemployment".
an interesting coment came from a former (?) minister in the east-german government - sorry, can't remember his name. he said that he tells the people living in the eastern provinces "not to look to the west and compare living standards with germans living in the west, but to look to the east and compare living standards to people living in poland and other east-european countries". ... hmm, did not sound unreasonable ...but...
a few days later i read that a polish minister (prime minister ?) called on the west-european nations to quickly bring living standards in eastern europe up to the level in western europe. well, that seems to re-inforce the feeling of the east-germans of being being neglected by the west. it seems to be be a pretty tough assignment for any government to come to grips with! hbg
It seems that there really are legal objections against earlier elections, resulting from what the Federal Constitunional Court said re what Kohl did in 1982 (when he used the questionable tactic of calling a motion of confidence and defeating his own government in order to force an election): this could be done, but only once and only this time [I've shortend the sentence a bit
The 'Opinion' in today's Telegraph:
Earthquake in Germany - will anything change?
The defeat of the Social Democrats (SPD) in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous Land, marks a seismic shift in Germany's post-war history. The party had held the state for nearly 40 years. Not surprisingly, Gerhard Schröder, the chancellor, has decided to cut his losses and bring forward the general election by a year to this autumn. The alternative was to soldier ineffectually on, his already watered-down reform programme subject to further dilution.
Mr Schröder says he is seeking a new mandate to pursue Agenda 2010, a series of social security and labour market reforms launched in 2003. He is opposed in this endeavour by the Left wing of his own party and by a large section of the electorate which, despite years of stagnation and recession, does not want its well-padded welfare state to be dismantled. Given that the latest national opinion poll allots 29 per cent of the vote to the SPD, compared with 45 per cent for the Christian Democrats (CDU), the chancellor is taking a daunting gamble. Yet it would be a mistake to underestimate his ability to claw his way back. Tactical flexibility is the hallmark of this hardened, able politician, and he will seize whatever means are to hand.
In this campaign, he is likely to paint the Christian Democrats as Thatcherites set on destroying Germany's social model. Franz Müntefering, SPD chairman, has accused financial investors of pouncing on companies like "swarms of locusts", stripping them bare and moving on. And yesterday the party attacked the CDU/CSU opposition for advocating "market radicalism". The language is reminiscent of that in France, whose president, Jacques Chirac, said that "ultra-liberalism is as great a menace as communism in its day". Thus do continental parties on both wings of the political divide choose to describe what in Britain would be regarded as the normal workings of capitalism.
In fact, the charge against the German conservatives is absurd. They may push reform with greater vigour than the half-hearted attempt made by the SPD but that does not amount to radicalism. The Christian Democrats have already shown themselves reluctant to tackle the main impediment to economic revival - high labour costs and a rigid labour market. In Germany's moderate, consensual polity, its freedom of action limited by the European social and employment chapters, there is little to choose between the two main parties. And that lack of a radical alternative will condemn the country to at best a slow recovery from its current sclerosis.
If the measures are largely uniform, what about the personalities promoting them? Here, Mr Schröder, a likeable man with a colourful past, has the edge over Angela Merkel, the presumed conservative candidate. As a CDU leader who is a divorced Protestant woman from former East Germany, she stands out. And she has proved her toughness by seeing off the challenge to her leadership from Roland Koch, the state president of Hesse. Against all that, however, must be set her distinct lack of charisma.
Yet she deserves to be given a go at the chancellorship because of Mr Schröder's persistent breaking of election promises to revive the economy and bring down unemployment. After nearly seven years in power, he has hardly begun to wean Germans from their welfare dependency. He may personally believe in far-reaching reform but has still to convince his own party and the electorate of its necessity if the country is to retain its international competitiveness. By his own yardstick he has failed - and therefore should be voted out.
Links, zwo drei vier ...
Wow, these have been turbulent times for Germany, this past week.
From my sickbed (I had the flu) I've been trying to follow it all ... first the elections in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), ending so disastrously for the SPD. Then the announcement of Chancellor Schroeder and SPD party chief Muentefering that they'd seek for their government to be dissolved asap and thus trigger new national elections - this without even informing their coalition partner, the Greens.
The move was interpreted in different ways. Foremost, it was considered a desperate attempt of Schroeder & co to keep the initiative and momentum in their own hands and keep the opposition on the defense (a lengthy analysis in the Sueddeutsche compared Schroeder to Antonio Banderas in Desperado). And it sure did so - for about 24 hours. The idea was probably to embarass the CDU/CSU into a heated leadership battle ahead of the elections, as Angela Merkel's position wasnt exactly solidified yet - hence probably Walter's glee at the move earlier on. But within a day or so, the CDU and CSU had closed ranks behind Merkel and were roaring to go.
Another interpretation emerged gradually, which described the surprise announcement as a strategic move to preempt the intra-party turmoil that was sure to finally erupt after the election defeat in NRW, unleashed by leftists who had long been lambasting Schroeder's employment and welfare reforms (Harz IV). They would have tried to change the party's course and give some actual body to the token anticapitalist rhetorics that Muntefering had somewhat gratuitously indulged in during the NRW campaign. By preempting all that, at least it would be ensured that it was the Chancellor's reform project, Agenda 2010, the party would campaign on - and party ranks would be closed as the national campaign was launched.
Except that they didnt, as Oskar Lafontaine, former SPD leader, himself broke headlines the very next day. He proclaimed that he would be available to head a new party or list to challenge Schroeder from the left - on one condition. The condition being that the ex-communists of the PDS, who habitually get a sixth to a quarter of the East-German vote but never gained a real foothold in the West, would fight the elections together with the new Electoral Alternative Employment + Social Justice (WASG). The WASG had after all debuted in the NRW elections with a fair enough 2,2% - twice as much as the PDS ever did there. They should work together after the example of the Italian leftwing umbrella coalition "the Olive". He'd then gladly lead it, together with his good buddy Georg Gysi, the former, prolific PDS leader who had led the party to ever better scores in the nineties but eventually resigned, frustrated over the party's lacking willingness to modernize. (Not long after his resignation the party disappeared from the national parliament, miserably failing to reach the 5% threshold after a pale 2002 election campaign).
Immediately, opinion polls appeared giving such a new Lafontaine-and-Gysi party an impressive 8% of the vote. Remember, this is 8% left of both the SPD and the Greens (it was I think the Tagesspiegel who headlined the whole saga of three, no four left-wing parties Links, zwo, drei, vier). Speculation was rife: it would be a disaster for the splintered Left, wrote one. No, it would actually be good for SPD-pragmatists, who were counting on losing the election already anyway and had their belly full of the Red-Green experiment, speculated others. After all, if Lafontaine c.s. would succeed in mobilising enough disaffected voters who'd otherwise stay at home to make it across the threshold, it might lead to the right-wing parties CDU/CSU and FDP failing to get a parliamentary majority by themselves. In that case a "big coalition" of CDU-CSU and SPD would be necessary, with Merkel as Chancellor and a firmly reformist SPD as junior partner. That would suit some pragmatists fine, for the moment.
But alas, Gysi did not resign as leader of the PDS in frustration for nothing, back then. It's a firmly conservative party, in terms of outlook and conventions, brought together as much by a shared GDR past as anything. I can just imagine the rank-and-file PDS member's reaction. They were once used to being the one and true Party, which dealt sternly with any adventurist deviations; and they still constitute a powerful force in their own region, with government posts in two East-German states. And now they should at once, suddenly dissolve their party to merge with some newcomers from the West who'd just gotten two percent? Some ragtag coalition of political parvenus and sectarian activists - Trotskyites, even? Just because some bigheaded former Socialdemocrat demands it?
Of course, a good reason to do so would be that the PDS hasnt gained much in state elections since '02, and seems destined to fail reaching the 5% threshold in this year's national elections again. Lacking support in the West, they would need something like 20-25% across East-Germany, which doesnt look feasible. And in the West they did make some initial progress among the alternative crowd in West-Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen back in Gysi's days, but have conspicuously failed to attract any of the workers and commonfolk that turned away from the SPD in droves the past decade. And getting 1% in the West just wont be enough. As Gysi himself, in typical provocative manner, told his own party just before the NRW elections, they appear de facto as a "foreign party" in the West. In short, the PDS has poor national prospects - while as long as it has to compete with both the PDS and the Greens, the WASG isnt likely to make the threshold either, with or without Lafontaine. So a good reason would be, like, well - survival as a national party.
But as it looks now, the ex-communists wont be able to jump over their own shadow. News from PDS headquarters for now is that it wont dissolve itself, and is not eager to found a whole new party with the WASG folks either - time is too short, they say. And they'd need to, since German law doesnt actually allow for an "Olive"-like coalition. Instead, individual WASG members are welcome to engage in talks about taking up a place on the PDS' own "open list"... a prospect that several WASG leftists had already declared unacceptable.
So, links zwo drei vier after all? More news after this weekend ...
That's where you've been (flu), have been worried about you even though you've made sporadic appearances.