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State elections in Germany: can the left come back?

by Turambar Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:41:56 PM EST

Another election coverage diary, as voters in the German federal states of Lower Saxony and Hesse choose new state parliaments. The left's showing in the more important of the two, Hesse, will strongly impact the course of federal German, and possibly EU politics.

Can the SPD (Social Democrats) overcome its crisis and take over in Hesse? Can the Left Party establish itself as the fifth main party in Germany?

"Schau 'mer mal", as the Kaiser (Beckenbauer) always said. Polls close 18h CET. Update [2008-1-27 12:3:39 by DoDo]: See exit polls, results in the comments! Update [2008-1-27 17:41:56 by DoDo]: Final Hesse result now in: building a government will be extremely difficult...


1. FACTS: what's this about?

Lower Saxony
Population: 8 million
Votes in the Bundesrat: 6 (of 69)
Seats in regional parliament: CDU 91, SPD 63, FDP 15, Greens 14 (majority: 92, currently CDU+FDP coalition government)
Prime minister: Christian Wulff
SPD candidate: Wolfgang Jüttner
Lower Saxony boasts the most wind power within Germany. Car-making giant Volkswagen was a semi-state company, Lower Saxony still holds shares. Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) was earlier state PM here.

Hesse
Population: 6.1 million
Votes in the Bundesrat: 5 (of 69)
Seats in regional parliament: CDU 56, SPD 33, Greens 12, FDP 9 (majority: 56, currently CDU government)
Prime minister: Roland Koch
SPD candidate: Andrea Ypsilanti
Frankfurt is a main banking centre, also hosting the European Central Bank. GM-owned car maker Opel is nearby, as is chemical industry giant Hoechst. Former foreign minister Joschka Fischer (Greens) developed from street fighter to politician here.

Bundesrat
The Bundesrat (=Federal Council) is the upper house of the federal German parliament. The councillors are representatives of the governments of the 16 federal states, thus regional elections can shift majorities.
Current seats: CDU resp. CSU [Bavarian] 21, CDU/FDP 18; CDU/SPD 12; SPD/CDU 7, SPD 4, SPD/Left Party 3, SPD/Greens 3
Seats at stake now: 6+5 today (Sunday), 3 more on 24 February (Hamburg) elections on 24 February, all CDU or CDU/FDP now



2. POLLS: what to expect?

Lower Saxony: CDU+FDP are expected to get over 50%, so the coalition will probably stay in place even if the Linke should make it. You can check the party's positions against your own at wahlomat.de.

Hesse: Both SPD+Greens and CDU+FDP are expected to get around 45%. If the Linke makes it over the 5% threshold, there has to be a non-traditional coalition, so it's very important for both SPD and CDU to get the most seats in order to have the prime-minister and becoming able to choose their partner(s).



3. PARTIES, PERSONS, COALITIONS

Both Wulff and Koch are high-profile leaders in the CDU (Christian Democrats) and a loss would hurt them badly. Both states are traditionally contested between CDU and SPD (not "naturally" leaning to either party).

As DoDo pointed out, there's been a shift in the strategy of the Social Democrats after Schröder went away and the party plummeted in the polls while the new left rose. They're coming back to traditional leftist positions and candidates, as Ypsilanti and Jüttner exemplify. An SPD win in Hesse would be a comeback that seemed unlikely even a few months ago and give the Social Democrats further momentum for the next elections.

For the Linke (Left Party), it could very well be the first time they're getting seats in any Western Flächenstaat (states which aren't cities). As long as Lafontaine is one of their leaders, a coalition with the SPD seems impossible, even when they've already agreed to tolerate a red-green minority coalition in Hesse.
At the moment, the fact that Germany turns into a five party- system only increases the chances for yet another unwanted Grand Coalition.

Greens and FDP (Free Democrats, economic-liberals) fight for the third place, nothing new here. However, the green candidate in Hesse, Tarek Al-Wazir, is the shooting star of the campaign so far. We'll see if he can really get the votes out.

As far as the CDU is concerned, Merkel wins either way. She can get rid of her rival Koch and Wulff's position may be weakened. If the CDU wins on the other hand, it's mostly due to her popularity. Wulff's aiming for the second spot in the party hierarchy.

All in all, the Grand Coalition creates some strange dynamics. SPD and CDU/CSU run ever more fiercely against each other while still being forced to cooperate on day-to-day federal politics.



4. ISSUES

States are in control over education policy (the so-called Kulturhoheit), so this is the most important issue in almost any state-level election. All states governed by the right have adopted tuition fees for their universities which the left wants to undo.

The old three- or two-tiered school system is also under attack from the left, the alternative proposed relies on integrated Gesamtschulen and more lessons in the afternoon (Ganztagsschulen).

As you've probably noticed, Koch tried to bring security/ criminal youths into the debate, in the disgusting fashion that's so typical for him, but that backfired.

The Greens want to go from nuclear and coal power to renewable energy, the FDP wants to lower taxes (especially on corporations), the SPD wants a minimum wage and the Linke wants to sack the Schröder reforms, all business as usual, but most of these proposals have to be decided on the federal level. There are some local issues like the building of a new Autobahn in Lower Saxony and the third runway for Frankfurt Airport, but I don't know much about that.

:: :: :: :: ::


There's a real chance that we'll be seeing the end of corrupted little maniac Roland Koch, so I'm repeating what DoDo said: fingers crossed.

Display:
On a side note, CDU/CSU+FDP will probably lose their majority in the Bundesversammlung (which chooses the next president in the spring of 2009) over the upcoming state elections.

Up next is Hamburg, traditionally SPD turf, but governed Ole von Beust (CDU) at the moment. Satire party DIE PARTEI has an interesting campaign poster:

"CDU- voters, beware: Ole von Beust is gay!"

Both BILD and CDU fell into the trap (surprise, surprise) and called the technically factual statement a smear:


"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 02:52:29 PM EST
LOL! Long live Titanic...

Another interesting rainbow press detour: the Lower Saxony CDU is in uproar over comments by Jüttner's wife, who thematised how Wulff has not yet divorced his first wife while he already made a child with the future second. A bit funny thing to say from an SPD woman in the state of serial divorcee Schröder, but The Moralising Party deserves it...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 03:05:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm repeating what DoDo said: fingers crossed.

Indeed! But I realise I 'stole' that from nanne (in an email).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 03:01:54 PM EST
I added some minor clarifications to your diary (e.g. what's the Bundesrat).

Re Merkel and her twisted relationship to Koch's campaign: as an illustration, here is a short SPIEGEL TV reportage of an open-air election event in Frakfurt, where Merkel campaigns for Koch, who gets tomatoes from counter-protesters:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 03:09:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, thanks. Have to go partying now, see you tomorrow.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 03:14:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hope you had a good party last night -- and another good one today!

I made some further edits: that map insert, short paragraphs on the two states, separated out a Bundesrat section, poll links; and I tried to expand the intro a bit for more emphasis on what's at stake, I hope in a way it's okay with you (but re-write if not).

Soon I'm off-line, will return and frontpage this in the afternoon.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 04:47:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I won't be around during the day tomorrow, so I add this pre-analysis of theoretical possibilities with a nonzero chance now:

1. The Left Party doesn't make it across the 5% limit. Then it can only be one block or another:

  • 1.A CDU+FDP has (narrow) majority: looking at polls, almost certain
  • 1.B SPD+Greens have (narrow) majority

2. The Left Party makes it across the 5% limit. Then as Turambar writes, neither of the above two blocks have majority. Due to the intolerability of Koch, a government can only be assembled around the SPD.

  • 2.A SPD+Greens+Left Party: Ypsilanti declared it impossible, nor would the rest of SPD tolerate it, and methinks the Left Party realises it would be a death kiss for them
  • 2.B Traffic lights coalition (SPD[red]+FDP[yellow]+Greens): I don't think many social-liberals remained to sustain that, and the Hessen FDP recently declared they won't coalition with "this SPD"
  • 2.C Grand Coalition (SPD+CDU): is a possibility if the CDU gets rid of Koch. But Merkel recently declared no Grand Coalition in Hessen. Then agai, shafting voters on both sides, a Grand Coalition without both Koch and Ypsilanti is a possibility.
  • 2.D SPD+Greens minority government with Left Party support: not much more comfortable for all involved than 2.A, yet probably the most likely
  • 2.E new elections: who would want it?


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 03:23:30 PM EST
1.2.C would be very unpleasant.
Andrea Ypsilanti's resilience to her believes must continue to have visibility.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 06:17:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 06:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - State elections in Germany: can the left come back?
Lower Saxony: CDU+FDP are expected to get over 50%, so the coalition will probably stay in place even if the Linke should make it. You can check the party's positions against your own at wahlomat.de.

Interesting. They put me a little bit closer to the Left Party than the Greens. Yet one serious disagreement is with both: the demand for no more grades for elementary school pupils.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 03:37:13 PM EST
Another aspect to these state elections is what they portend for the coming national elections, and meanwhile for whether the SPD can begin to regroup.  But then i'd like to see the Greens become experts at economic policy, so they can guide us into the future, so what do i know.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 04:20:29 PM EST
This is what I come to ET for.  I mean, growing up in the US I watched a lot of School-House Rock on Saturday mornings (short cartoons that taught such things as civics, how a bill is passed [I am just a Bill, lonely on Capitol Hill...] and US history) and I had the old crank as a civics teacher in high school, but his crankiness ended up teaching me a lot about my duties as a citizen.  But now I need something of the sort to teach me about civics in my newly adopted land, and these types of diaries really help (and Dodo's diary on Ypsilanti).

I am a Left Party member here, but still learning the political system as it were.  I live approximately half-way between Essen and Kassel on your map above, but still in NRW.  However, I do support the SPD in Hesse, God I hope they win today!

Thanks again for the diary, I hope you write more on these topics because diaries can be so much more than personal opinion or news delivery, they can also be very educational as a whole.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:33:35 AM EST
In what city or town do you live?  I"m also in NRW, Remscheid.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 07:04:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Menden, Sauerland

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 07:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just today moved to Frankfurt from Berlin! What a nice welcome...
by gioele (gioele(daught)sandler(aaaattttt)gmail(daught)kom) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the Hessen state broadcaster, turnout was low in the morning but picked up by 14h: now 34.6%, vs. 34% five years ago.

More importantly, compared to the last elections, cities have a higher and rural areas a lower turnout -- note that in Hessen and Germany, the Left usually scores higher in the cities and the DU/CSU on the countryside.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 10:07:25 AM EST
No newer data for all Hessen, but the city of Kassel saw +8%, and both Kassen and Frankfurt were just below 50% by 16h. Exit polls within minutes!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 11:59:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This may not be relevant, but looking at the map led me to think that the last two hundred years of German history can be approached by the way the state boundaries have shifted. If I get some of the history and geography a bit wrong, put it doewn to my being an ignorant foreigner.

Napoleon consolidated many of the states of the Holy Roman Empire. Then the Prussians expanded across the map (without looking it up, it seems to me at least six of the modern states were wholly or mainly part of the Kingdom of Prussia; and thats not counting the former Prussian territory now in Poland or Russia).

Consolidation even continued during the Weimar Republic, with the creation of Thuringia.

The Nazis (like the Communists later) did not want to encourage traditional regional loyalties, so they broke up the states into smaller districts.

After the second world war the basis of the present state map was constructed. Compared with the Weimar states, Prussia was broken up and there was some consolidation in the south.

Finally after re-unification the states were re-created in the east; producing what exists now.

Another random thought, the Bundesrat seems to have been the model for the European Council. There are the same characteristics of state governments being represented as such, with a prescribed number of votes roughly related to population.

by Gary J on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 10:28:43 AM EST
Some additions/corrections to the picture:

  • The Nazis did NOT dissolve the states. In fact, they even created the larger part of one modern state: they unified Mecklenburg. It was only that the Nazis took power everywhere, thus the states became symbolic units in a centralised dictatorship.
  • Indeed Prussia included six modern states almost completely (Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia), but also major parts of others.
  • The break-up of Prussia was pursued by the British occupiers. The resulting states didn't much follow pre-Prussian lines -- in particular, Lower Saxony includes former strong local units Oldenburg and Hannover.
  • Saarland was long coveted by France, and was a special region for years after both WWI and WWII.
  • Rhineland-Palatine was created from lands held by Prussia and Bavaria.
  • Baden-Württenberg (in the Southeast) was born from the union of three states only in 1952, which had a long separate history before the war.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 12:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. I'd go further and state that the only modern states that really have deep historical roots are Bavaria, Bremen and Hamburg. Local state identity is probably felt strongest in Bavaria. Except in the northern part (Franconia, Francs identify with that). From my impression.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:18:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
About the Franks, yeah I heard that too. But don't you range Saxon local identity as still strong, too?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:33:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't get a lot of that, personally. Saxony is mixed up...
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:02:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the clarification.

I think I was thinking of the Nazi Party structure (gauleiters), more than the formal state institutions, but I do recall that Goering was the Prime Minister of Prussia (amongst other jobs) at one time.

by Gary J on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 10:43:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ZDF:
Hessen:
CDU: 36.5%
SPD: 37%
FDP: 9%
Greens: 8%
Left Party: 4.8%

Lower Saxony:
CDU: 42%
SPD: 31%
FDP: 8%
Greens: 8%
Left Party: 7%(!)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 12:02:52 PM EST
Hessen state TV:
CDU: 35.5%
SPD: 37.5% (!!!)
FDP: 9.5%
Greens: 8%
Left Party: 4.9%

Ypsilanti's SPD defeated Koch's CDU? but it's VERY narrow between the blocks, and for the Left Party!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 12:05:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like a better than expected showing for the greens. Excellent.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:11:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now less so: ZDF projects 7.4% in Hessen... However, that 8.0-8.1% in Lower Saxony, is the best result ever.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:00:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too bad for the Greens in Hessen. The last polls had them at 7%.

CDU and FDP are now at 49.8% in Niedersachsen. I think they'll probably still have a majority even if they drop to 49%. But it'll be a slimmer majority.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:07:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Prognosis of seats in Hesse:
SPD+Greens: 56
CDU+FDP: 54

Razer-thin majority at the moment.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 12:07:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARD, Lower Saxony:
Lower Saxony:
CDU: 44%
SPD: 29.5%
FDP: 8%
Greens: 8%
Left Party: 6.5%

Lower Saxony, where voter turnout was low, seems to remain comfortably in CDU+FDP hands, even if the Left Party now looks to have managed to establish itself well above 5%.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 12:09:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hesse

ZDF
CDU  36,3%
SPD  37,1%
FDP   9,1%
Green 8,0%
Left  4,8%
Other 4,7%

ARD
CDU  35,7%
SPD  37,5%
FDP   9,4%
Green 8,0%
Left  4,9%
Other 4,5%

ZDF sees a "patt". 55 seats for both CDU-FDP or SPD-Greens. ARD sees a tiny SPD-Green majority of 56 seats.

Lower Saxony:

ZDF
CDU  42,3%
SPD  30,9%
FDP   8,0%
Green 8,0%
Left  6,9%
Other 3,9%

ARD
CDU  43,8%
SPD  29,6%
FDP   8,1%
Green 8,1%
Left  6,6%
Other 3,8%

Seems pretty clear.
CDU-FDP coalition.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 12:34:55 PM EST
Hessen,

ZDF 18:42 CET:
CDU  36.3% (-12.5)
SPD  37.1% (+8.0)
FDP   9.1% (+1.2)
Greens 8.0% (-3.1)
Leftists 4.9%

ARD/HR 18:45 CET:
CDU  36.0% (-12.8)
SPD  37.2% (+8.1)
FDP   9.3% (+1.4)
Greens 8.0% (-2.1)
Leftists 4.9%

Turnout: predicted at 64.5% (-0.1)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:00:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Big changes in ZDF's 19:00 figures!

CDU  36.5% (-12.3), 42 seats
SPD  37.0% (+7.9), 42 seats
FDP   9.4% (+1.5), 11 seats
Greens 7.7% (-3.4), 9 seats
Leftists 5.0%, 6 seats

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:17:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now ARD's 19:25 projection shows the same change to the critical situation (i.e. my 2.D version most likely):

ARD/HR 18:45 CET:
CDU  36.2% (-12.6), 41 seats
SPD  37.1% (+8.0), 43 seats
FDP   9.4% (+1.5), 11 seats
Greens 7.8% (-2.3), 9 seats
Leftists 5.0%, 6 seats

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:40:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARD/HR 21:20:
CDU  36.6% (-12.2), 42 seats
SPD  36.9% (+7.8), 42 seats
FDP   9.4% (+1.5), 11 seats
Greens 7.5% (-2.6), 9 seats
Leftists 5.0%, 6 seats

Now official end results from the districts stream in. The large swings are across the board, in all election districts. Mini-parties: hardcore far-right party NPD got 1.5% in one district, but below 1% on average; the Pirates get a few tenths of a percent everywhere.

At ARD, you can watch Ypsilanti's victory speech from around 19h. She speaks a lovely Hessisch, lots of "Isch"-es and so on. Greatest cheers: when she declares that the success of this campaign will have results at federal level.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 03:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is encouraging news. For that horror-show Koch to get the boot, but above all by a woman from the real left -- in fact, it's the first good news in ages!

Arte News now has a slick young French anchor, and the tone has moved right. This evening he didn't look too pleased, and opened on the CDU victory in Lower Saxony without mentioning that it was the incumbent who won without surprise (it was as if Wulff had pulled off a real feat). He reported Hessen, but barely mentioned the defeat of Koch. Arte used to be more "neutral".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 04:34:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only one election district (of 55) still not reporting.

But, fuck! ZDF's last projection, from 22:51, has CDU ahead by 36.8% to 36.7%... While ARD has them dead-even at 36.7%.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:11:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two scaled-down pictures from a SPIEGEL ON-LINE photo series:

Would be fun among them -- SPD supporters reacting to the exit polls:

Ypsilanti's successful campaign cut into the Green votes. Yet, if the Left gets to govern, expect Green leader Tarek Al-Wazir (whose father came from Yemen) to be its sharp tongue. We haven't showed him yet, so Here he is, with wife when voting:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:10:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL ON-LINE "remembers" Koch...

This was May 2003, when Dubya, Cheney & the neocons showed whom they'd really like, by accepting Koch for a short-order visit after turning down Merkel for long. But ice-cold tactician Merkel even campaigned for Koch:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For-show campaigning. She could not let a powerful CDU member like Koch drop, publicly. But her position in the CDU will be strengthened as a result of him losing (and exiting politics, one hopes).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:51:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, ice-cold tactician :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:56:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do German politicians actually leave politics after these kinds of defeats ?

Damn. If only French politicians could copy them on that.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:00:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Often, but it happens that losers get into the federal government. For example, current environment minister Sigmar Gabriel used to be Schröder's successor as Lower Saxony PM, then was beaten and Wulf succeeded him. I'd hope Merkel feels strong enough now to prevent such a route for Koch.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:03:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Koch steps down and calls the party for a favour Merkel will promote him away. New York, one hopes, not Brussels.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. There are advisory boards to be sat at.

I would not be surprised if Koch does not step down. He's a pernicious [expletive] like that. But hopefully the CDU state party in Hessen is not entirely beholden.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:12:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a backgrounder to DoDo's statements: the Minister-Presidents of the German states have for a long time held a remarkable amount of power. This is because first, the States have a lot of power themselves, second, the states also form the German upper house (Bundesrat), and the Bundesrat is dominated by the CDU (supermajority) to an extent where it can in practice block nearly all legislation.

Four of the current Minister-Presidents of the CDU are part of a political career pact (Andenpakt). A further Andenpakt member is in Merkel's government, and yet another is now President of the European Parliament. So speaking to Roland Koch is not like talking to the Governor of, say, Illinois. He was one of the most powerful politicians in German politics of the last 6-odd years.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Koch:

Y:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:20:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Love this picture -- an old commie gets emotional:

(Hessen Left Party headquarters sees the projections)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:05:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a good day to move to Hessen...

Just sat down to our first homemade meal (we literally drove down with all our stuff from Berlin this afternoon) and flipped on the tube to see who won, and to be greeted with this type of response to Köch's rhetoric is mollifying to say the least.

I think I'll enjoy my time here in Frankfurt.

by gioele (gioele(daught)sandler(aaaattttt)gmail(daught)kom) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:49:53 PM EST
Hooray for you! I look forward to photos of all the places I saw two decades ago...

Which part of Frankfurt, if it's not confidential?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 01:57:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nordend, on Humboldt Str. just off Oberweg... fairly pretty neighborhood...
by gioele (gioele(daught)sandler(aaaattttt)gmail(daught)kom) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:30:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then the second main street to the East of you is one I traversed innumerable times, the Friedberger Straße, from which Merianplatz is not far away, an area I remember well; and from Merianplatz again the Zoo is not far away. Looking forward to your Friday Photo Diary contributions in the future :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 03:08:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure if it is actually Nordend, it looks closer to Innenstadt...
by gioele (gioele(daught)sandler(aaaattttt)gmail(daught)kom) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 02:35:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is Nordend alright: beyond the onetime city walls, and used to be the edge of the city when named so.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 03:16:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of the far-right parties, overall, both the Republicans and the more hardcore NPD seem below 1%.

However, NPD has a well-known centre in the small town of Wölfersheim, to the Northeast of Frankfurt, where they could even achieve double-digits in the past. Today only 5.0% remained of that. Nearby Hirzenhain is the only town with a higher result: 5.4%, from what I found, may be the personal effect of NPD's female local councillor Josephine Fröhlich.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:03:09 PM EST
Just in:

CDU 36.8% (by 3,595 votes...)
SPD 36.7%
FDP 9.4%
Greens 7.5%
Leftists 5.1%
Republicans 1.0%
NPD 0.9%
Free Voters 0.9%
Animal Protection Party 0.6%
Pirate Party 0.3%
...


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:31:34 PM EST
AW, that shucks, SPD second, so narrowly!

But, it will be impossible for Koch to establish a government. Meanwhile, the FDP declared again that they don't want a Traffic Lights coalition. So, SPD+Greens minority government after much wrangling?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:33:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what about red green red?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 06:01:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ypsilanti declared No. Nor would it be supported by large parts of both parties. What is possible is Linke support for minority government, they already declared they'd elect Ypsilanti PM. Whether she'd [allowed to] accept  at least that in the end, we'll see.

Ypsilanti also declared that the CDU's programme is the same even without Koch, so she's not for a Grand Coalition either.

Unfortunately, now the first move is the CDU's. And I already read the idea that Koch and his former faction head, current federal defense minister Franz-Josef Jung would trade places -- if they could also engineer a coup in the SPD to make them coalition partner, they could turn defeat into victory...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 06:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary request from anyone who feels competent enough: What is the matter with the German left - Why a Red Green Red coalition is impossible

I guess the short answer would be DDR, but a longer one would be appreciated. As I see it the SPD & Grüne throws away an election victory for the left if they choose grand coalition over coalition with or support from Linke. But then again, I do not live in Germany.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 07:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It differs per state. There is a red-red coalition in Berlin. There could be a red-green-red coalition.

But if I may be so bold, I agree with the SPD in this particular case. The left party there has just been established. You first want to see if it can operate as a functional political unit. Policy differences aside. The left party in Bremen has already descended into petty infighting.

So, if the left party in Hessen can function as a good opposition party for four years, they can become a credible partner. Which, I think, is what they want to do themselves.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 08:17:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Supplementing nanne:

  • It is one of the foundation myths of the modern SPD that they are the democratic socialists in contrast to the undemocratic socialists further left. This comes to play not only when thinking of the Eastern German progenidor of the Left Party, but also the former West German Communists in the Hessen branch.

  • The Lafontaine factor: the West German co-leader of the federal Left Party was a leading SPD man before. Those who supported him strongly followed into the Left Party. Many of those who remained view him as traitor.

  • For the Left Party, there is also the matter of simple survival: a just established party must fear too many compromises as junior partner in a government, i.e. that part of their voters will turn their backs on them, the rest go for a larger coalition partner next time.

I think the Left Party will become a "normal" party for coalition calculations everywhere only after a generation change at the top, when old preconceptions will no more apply.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 03:12:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Never going to happen. Merkel does not want Koch in a position of power, near her. The SPD will not offer up Ypsilanti. They can be stupid, but they're not suicidal. What will happen is that Ypsilanti will try to form a coalition with the FDP and the Greens, and the FDP either comes around (which I think likely), or we get a very long formation.

Koch will either resign and go into another career, or stay on as opposition leader.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 08:11:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In my fear of CDU manipulation of the SPD, I forgot about possible SPD maipulation of the FDP...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 01:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...is something that I think will happen either way.

Traffic lights coalition (SPD+FDP+Greens): shafting the non-xenophobic CDU voters who chose them as alternative on economy, and promises to not join an SPD government; and the FDP will surely demand a heavy price which may not make the SPD Left happy

Jamaica coalition (CDU+FDP+Greens): would destroy the Greens, simply impossible

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 03:19:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It all depends on how much you get as a party and how you sell it. The FDP across Germany is stuck on being a right-liberal party, which is a sure way to stay in the single digits. If they want to impose that exile upon themselves, so be it.

The electorate is adrift. A lot can change in four years. I would think that if the FDP has the chance right now to enter a coalition but does not take it, it will in four years have to explain that decision, too. And if the economy is not doing too badly, they will have a very difficult job at that.

On the other hand, if they join they can always claim that good performance is due to their mitigation of the irresponsible ideas of the SPD and the greens.

Of course, the FDP is going to calculate. I read that the chairman (IIRC) thinks they should prepare for an early election. But other voices in the party are making the argument that the party has to be independent about its decisions and should not exclude any partnership with the SDP or the greens beforehand.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 07:47:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Adding: there are quite a few people within the FDP who think the party should naturally get 20%. There is some pride involved in this. They don't want to see a party they think should be much bigger wed permanently to a bigger brother.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 07:50:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For the Hessen FDP? the money elite vote is an especially strong factor: check where they got spectacularly high votes, it's the rich men's refuges on the slopes of the Taunus mountains (to the Northwest of Frankfurt).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 08:33:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I get that feedback from the federal level. The moneyed elite can live with free daycare and green energy, I would guess. Or are there a lot of industrialists? They will mainly care about taxes.

So, again, if the FDP does not enter the government, but the government does raise some taxes that hurt the rich, the FDP's base may not appreciate it.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 09:14:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet another reply: I think a coalition of the greens and the CDU will happen, eventually, somewhere. It could, I think, already have happened in Berlin if the local CDU had succeeded in their attempts to get Klaus Töpfer to run, instead of the unelectable Friedbert Pflüger.

In Hessen it is indeed completely out of the question.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 08:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the FDP will come around. Ypsilanti is open to it, so the resistance will only come from one side.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 08:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot: the seat distribution remained as in the last projections,
CDU 42
SPD 42
FDP 11
Greens 9
Leftists 6

Majority: 56, hence possible:
CDU+SPD=84
SPD+Greens+FDP=62
SPD+Greens+Leftists=57

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:38:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What are the "Free Voters"?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:53:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a special form of independent: local initiative groups that combined but didn't form a party.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 06:01:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ZDF has nice voter analyses.

  • Personalities: clear preference for Ypsilanti, even CDU voters are positive
  • Issues: schools and jobs beat crime
  • Ages: the Sarko trend; CDU gets 49% of the 60+, and at most 33% of all other age groups. SPD now got the under-30 most (41%), Greens 10%, FDP 8%.
  • Employment: only the self-employed broke for the CDU (and that 41:24).
  • Sex: both the CDU (+1) and the SPD (+3) got more votes among women than men.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 27th, 2008 at 05:56:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some election districts introduced electronic voting in Hessen. A suit against their use was thrown out just days before the election. But SPIEGEL reports the protests aren't dead: the Chaos Computer Club observed lax behaviour and other problems in 50 cases.

  • Some computers were stored at home by party members uring the prior night.
  • Some computers were left unattended.
  • Some computers malfunctioned and broke down during election day.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 08:00:09 AM EST
  1. Ypsilanti and the Hessen SPD is courting the FDP, while their federal counterparts exert a less kind push: they talk about the FDP's 'civic duties' to not let the state ungoverned.

  2. The FDP local leaders again react with rejection again, complaining of "neverending slime from the SPD" and even the suggestion from Ypsilanti that they are in talks. However, some federal leaders are more cautious, in line with nanne's expectations.

  3. SPD leader Beck reinforced his rejection of a coalition with the "so-called Leftists", and implied that a Grand Coalition without Koch and with a changed CDU is an option for them.

  4. Wulff and other CDU leaders hope and push for a Koch-led Grand Coalition, and Merkel said so too, and told that SPD+Greens 'failed with their strategy to push the Left Party over the edge'. Koch implied that he'd like to see the SPD struggle with a left-only coalition, or lead a caretaker government after failure of talks.

Talks can go on until April, they will be long.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 08:20:50 AM EST
Note that Merkel's position on this helps her. Could be that Koch is being set up to fail.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 09:25:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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