Tuesday, September 20, 2005

German Politics

So my German buddy Andi has had some things to say about German politics, and I thought I would chime in. Yes, Andi, to answer your question there has been a fair amount of coverage of it here as well. Just do a search on CNN or a similar one on Fox News or whatever news site you think is "the truth" and you will find plenty of stories on all of them. I also saw some video clips of their speeches after the election, and personally I thought they both looked really silly.

Schröder was going on about the fact that Merkel couldn't form her own government and saying that it meant that people didn't want him out of office, which I found pretty tough to swallow. He also said it was a really resounding vote that they did not want change, which I found insane. His party had after all lost a lot of support, and his party came in second in the polls!

Merkel was making similar overstatements in her speech, claiming a great "mandate" after winning the narrowest of victories (sound like a US president we know?). She may not even end up being chancellor even though her party got more votes than the SPD (sound like a US election we lived through not long ago?). She was pretty much demanding that she be given the chancellorship, even though she knows full well that she is not under any obligation to get it. She seemed pretty obnoxious.

So in short, I found both of them pretty unappealing, at least in their post-election speeches. Interestingly, in German elections, there is not the kind of culture war that we see in the US. Yes, there are differences between the old East and the old West, but that isn't the same thing that we have here between the parties. It seems that in Germany, no politicians from any of the major parties are trying to moralize from a political base, which is very refreshing. It really is all about the economy in Germany. In many ways, I think that should frequently be the over-arching issue. It's kind of like in football or any other sport. When the whole team wins, all of the hotheads on the team pretty much get along. In the same way, people that feel like they have economic opportunity and a decent future don't really feel like being angry at each other as much.

The Euro took a tumble after the election, and Germany seems to be in a pretty deep political crisis. We'll see how things go from here, but so far it looks like a mess. It's Europe's biggest economy and has the largest population of any EU country, so there is a lot riding on this. Let's hope they get this straightened out soon.

1 comment:

AndiM said...

Ok, so US TV didn't show Schröder's behaviour in the "Berliner Runde" with all the leaders of Germany's main parties.
He just pointed out that no one in G. wants Merkel as chancelor (missing the point that no one wants him either ;-)) and that it was a clear decision for him. It almost looked like he'd lost all sense of reality in my opinion. The best outcome for Germany might be a "Große Koalition" (SPD / CDU) under somebody new as chancelor, maybe some CDU Prime Minister.