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Elections in Germany update:No turn to the right, after all!

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 12:16 pm
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.

http://www.spiegel.de/img/0,1020,472679,00.jpg

(The pic shows the conservative governed states [black] and the social-democrat governed [red] in the two noted years)
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 12:33 pm
Oh dear ... that sucks.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 12:39 pm
My constutiency

http://www.mainzelahr.de/smile/traurig/flenn.gif

(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.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 12:46 pm
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.)
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 02:10 pm
Our former elected member of parliament got her seat back via the 'country list' :wink:


State results
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hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 02:33 pm
german elections
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
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 02:36 pm
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.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 02:38 pm
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 Laughing
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 02:42 pm
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.
0 Replies
 
JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 02:52 pm
I'm guessing he (Schroeder) steps down soon.

<Really, really soon>
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 02:59 pm
I sincerely hope so: that would bring deepest problems for the conservatives Laughing
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 03:05 pm
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.
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 03:23 pm
german elections
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
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2005 03:24 pm
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 Laughing].
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 12:59 am
Quote:
Germany's 'Iron Lady' to challenge Schröder

By Tony Paterson in Berlin
24 May 2005


She has been compared to Margaret Thatcher and now Angela Merkel, Germany's conservative leader, is poised to follow the "Iron Lady" by becoming the first woman to run for Chancellor in elections this autumn.

Two conservative politicians, regarded as Mrs Merkel's main competitors, cleared the way for the 50-year-old east German after publicly endorsing her as the party's front-runner. The Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, took the high-risk decision to call a general election a year early after his ruling Social Democrats suffered devastating losses in the former stronghold of North Rhine-Westphalia in a state election on Sunday.

Roland Koch, the Christian Democrat (CDU) prime minister of Hesse state, one of the conservatives who had been hotly tipped to run for the job, said: "The Chancellor candidate will be Angela Merkel of course. I don't know anyone in the party who thinks otherwise."

His views were echoed by Christian Wulff, the CDU prime minister of Lower Saxony. The twin endorsement meant that a conservative party meeting expected to declare Mrs Merkel's candidacy next Monday is likely to be little more than a formality.

Mrs Merkel declined to acknowledge that she was in line for the post yesterday. "Our job is to take notice of the fears and worries of voters and I am optimistic that we will be in a better position to solve Germany's problems," she said.

Opinion polls suggested that her party was poised to seize power from Mr Schröder's ailing coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens in the election. A survey for German television gave the Christian Democrats 46 per cent, compared with 29 per cent for the SPD.

Mr Schröder's failure to tackle Germany's deepening unemployment problem, with five million out of work, despite unpopular reforms designed to kick-start the economy, was cited as the main reason.

The Chancellor's surprise decision to call an early election came as a political bombshell to the opposition conservatives and grassroots members of his own party. Mr Schröder proposed 1 July as the date for a vote of confidence yesterday. He will instruct his party to vote against him, paving the way for the President to dissolve parliament and call an election.

Several commentators speculated that Mr Schröder's gamble was aimed at presenting voters with a choice between himself and the untried and less charismatic figure of Mrs Merkel. Despite comparisons with Margaret Thatcher, Mrs Merkel has earned the less flattering nickname of "Iron Girl".

As an east German and a Protestant, many conservatives regard her as being out of step with the party's largely Catholic, middle-class west German mainstream. A protégé of Germany's "unification" chancellor, Helmut Kohl, Mrs Merkel was catapulted to the position of conservative leader five years ago, at the height of a slush-fund scandal engulfing the party.

Her appointment was designed to show that the conservatives had made a clean break with a corrupt past. Yet despite being party leader, Mrs Merkel was forced out of the running to be candidate for Chancellor in the 2002 election when the job was given to Edmund Stoiber, the charismatic right-wing Bavarian prime minister.

Despite Mr Schröder's troubles, some commentators doubted Mrs Merkel would be prepared for a snap election. "Mrs Merkel's programme has hardly been prepared," said Franz Walter, a political analyst at Göttingen University.

"Half of the people who are likely to vote for her don't want radical market reforms at all. They just want stability. The remainder do want substantial deregulation. The differences are so great that the party is certain to run into big problems."
Source
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 01:02 am
The 'Opinion' in today's Telegraph:

Quote:
Earthquake in Germany - will anything change?
(Filed: 24/05/2005)

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.
Source
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 01:07 am
Quote:
24.05.2005

A Madam Chancellor for Germany?

After years of working toward her goal, Angela Merkel is just a technicality away from running for Germany's highest office. Which begs the question: Is Germany ready for a woman chancellor?



A reporter recently asked Angela Merkel, "Are you tough?" The 50-year-old politician replied, "Let's just say I'm persistent."

And her persistence has paid off. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), just won a glaring victory in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which was widely seen as a plebiscite on the current national Social Democrat government. Now, few doubts remain that she will be put forward as the candidate for chancellor, in snap elections to be held as soon as this fall.


As the question of her candidacy becomes more immediate, pundits have begun wondering if Merkel is Germany's answer to Margaret Thatcher. Known as the Iron Lady, Thatcher was England's first female head of state, and a decidedly conservative one at that.

Rocky times

Merkel is basically a careful person -- sometimes even skeptical or distrustful. That isn't likely to change. While she may be at the height of her powers right now, the past five months have proved that her caution was indeed called for. As recently as February, prior to the surprise victory of her party in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, she had her back pinned tightly against the wall.


At the time, many of those in the CDU leadership took a typical "bystander" attitude, waiting to see what would happen to "Madame Chairwoman." And Merkel herself felt left in the lurch, having wasted the entire second half of 2004 in internal fighting with the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU (Christian Socialists), over plans for a much disputed health-care reform package.

Her response? To prove her full dedication to the party. She upended her appointment calendar and increased her stumping appearances in the north. "I don't want to leave myself open to reproach," she explained, even as some were predicting Merkel would soon be singing a swan song.

Dedication paid off

In the end, the CDU leader was graced with the most important quality a politician can have, after competence and persistence: luck. The Social Democrat Prime Minister of Schleswig Holstein, Heide Simonis, was unseated by local CDU leader Peter Harry Carstensen in an upset decision. The public was stunned by new jobless figures of five million. The "visa affair" that rocked Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer added to the uncertainty of SPD voters. The CDU won in the north, against all prognoses, thus effectively ending the discussion over Merkel's ability to lead her party.

Merkel now looks set to be Germany's first-ever female candidate for chancellor. But then, she is no stranger to "firsts." Since 2000, she has been the first female CDU chairwoman, as well as the first woman at the head of the parliamentary party.

Not your typical CDU member

Merkel's biography -- she is a divorced Protestant, from eastern Germany, with no children -- isn't one typically associated with the CDU. Rather, the party is known for its conservative Catholic roots, and for being dominated by men from the western part of Germany.

Yet she was elected to the party chairmanship in 2000, amid a donation scandal. And in at the next party congress in 2004, in Düsseldorf, she tried to bring her history into harmony with that of the party, and succeeded.

From the beginning, the grass roots CDU members were more in favor than the party functionaries, of taking a chance on the PhD physicist from the east. Merkel had to defend herself against numerous opponents. It was often difficult and time-consuming, but one by one, she found her supporters and close aides. Her image suffered as a result. But after she ousted Friedrich Merz (photo) as parliamentary party chairman in 2002, she went on the offensive.

Unified vision needed

During the Iraq conflict, Merkel separated herself from the red-green leadership in favor of a pro-American course. Domestically, she wants to take a leading role in reforms. Thus far, she has waged a bitter battle with the CSU over health care reform. She survived it, but her plan came out severely weakened.

Ahead of the snap elections that everyone professes to support, there is one thing Merkel and other CDU-CSU leaders, will not say. At least not out loud. And that is, due to the rushed election, the CDU and CSU have a platform dilemma. The need to settle certain political issues and platforms prior to an election, so that they will not become problems during a CDU-CSU reign, has not been solved. Small signs of reform can be seen on questions of taxes and nursing care insurance.

But a definitive political platform is still lacking for the woman who may just become the first female chancellor of Germany.


Author DW staff (jen)
Source
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 01:10 am
Quote:
washingtonpost.com
Schroeder Trying to Fix Germany's Economy

By DAVID McHUGH
The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 24, 2005; 12:53 AM



BERLIN -- Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder tried to revive Germany's hidebound economy by chipping away at social protections _ angering his base and causing his support to plummet.

Now, facing early national elections after a regional vote where his Social Democrats suffered their worst beating in 51 years, he faces two choices in the coming campaign and neither is particularly promising.

The deft campaigner can push for more painful reforms and further alienate his base, or he can fall back on bashing big business _ a tactic that has so far failed miserably.

The choice between popularity and reform looms across Europe, where leaders are struggling to adapt the cherished but pricey welfare state to the pressures of a globalized market economy.

Polls show many voters in France will oppose the new European Union constitution in a referendum May 29 because they think it will lead to competition for jobs from countries with scanty social safety nets _ and undermine a comfortable standard of living and leisurely way of life enshrined for decades. Italy slipped into recession in the first quarter of the year as competition from low-wage countries undermined traditional mid-size businesses.

In Germany, growth reached a mediocre 1.7 percent last year after three years of near-zero growth, but unemployment _ boosted by a change in how jobless are counted _ pushed to over 5 million people and a rate of 12 percent.

Schroeder, after barely winning re-election in 2002, tried to shake up the economy with his Agenda 2010 reform program, which included cuts in unemployment benefits and in the social welfare benefits that burden businesses through payroll taxes of over 40 percent. This year, he proposed cutting the corporate tax rate.

Although the economy has picked up, growing in the first quarter at an annual rate of over 4 percent, leftists in his party are grumbling.

At his last campaign stop for local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Schroeder shouted hoarsely over derisive whistles at his own party's rally, and the Social Democrats took their worst beating there since 1954. The party's following shrank by 5.7 percent from 2000.

Schroeder was forced to admit he'd lost his mandate and call elections, which will take place by Sept. 18, a year ahead of plan.

The move cuts his term by a year but spares him from hanging on as a lame duck. Instead, he can turn to campaigning _ at which he's a master _ and use the pressure of an election to discipline his unruly back benches.

He also left his opponents, the Christian Democrats, no time to find an alternative candidate to their leader Angela Merkel, who has had trouble uniting the party behind her.

Schroeder will be counting on SPD rank-and-file voters such as Holger Noss, 29, from Birkenfeld in western Germany, who applauded the idea of early elections. "If we wait until 2006, we will lose a lot of time that is very important for Germany," Noss said. "He started with Agenda 2010 and he must finish with it."

Schroeder's left-wing critics have some points, "but we also need the economy," he said.

During the campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia, Schroeder and his party chief Franz Muentefering shelved their pro-business approach and attacked Germany's biggest companies as fat cats shipping jobs to lower-wage countries in Eastern Europe while they piled up profits at home. Muentefering even referred to financial investors as "locusts" who loot and pillage.

It didn't work, and some observers think Schroeder _ once dubbed "Der Genosse der Bosse," or "Comrade of the Bosses" _ will forget about business bashing.

Schroeder plans to clear the way for new elections by holding a confidence vote. That, together with the new elections, will act as a whip to bring disgruntled party members in line, Karl-Rudolf Korte, a political analyst at the University of Duisburg, said on ZDF television.

"The attraction lies in a confirmation of his reform course," Korte said. "A vote of confidence is the sharpest disciplinary measure that a chancellor has at his disposal. He will commit his party to this course, he will gather the factions and form his battle group."

"He will continue with his reform course," said Nils Diederich, a political expert at Berlin's Free University. "It will not be the capitalism critique, but instead the reform policies that will be in the foreground."

Diederich said Schroeder would try to paint Merkel and the conservatives as radical market reformers eager to dismantle the extensive worker protections, state-paid health and pension benefits and long vacations Germans have grown accustomed to.

"That will be the offer: Schroeder will say, 'We ask the citizens of the republic if they want to continue this reform policy or if they want radical, absolute market freedom in Germany,'" Diederich said.

"He will say, 'Our reforms are painful but they are in the interest of the little guy.'"

© 2005 The Associated Press
Source
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 May, 2005 01:13 pm
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 ...
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 May, 2005 01:15 pm
That's where you've been (flu), have been worried about you even though you've made sporadic appearances.
0 Replies
 
 

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