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German Elections Open Thread

by Frank Schnittger Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 07:42:25 AM EST

I don't follow German politics, and there is very little coverage of them in the media that I frequent, but it seems to me that the German election due on Sept. 22nd. could be pivotal for all of Europe. On the one hand we have Frau Merkel who seems to bestride the political stage like a giant and who leads her nearest rival, Peer Steinbrück, by a margin of 60 to 30% as the public's choice for Chancellor. On the other hand, we have a rag tag of parties without a coherent ideology or unifying principle.  

And yet I have a sense that Merkel could lose.   I would be interested in gaming out the possible outcomes, and above all, in informing myself of the possible policy implications, because Germany seems to be the key player in determining EU and Eurozone policy at the present time. With Ireland still under the heal of the Troika, the German election outcome will have more influence on Ireland's immediate political and economic future than any Irish election could or would.

According to recent opinion polls the standing of the parties is approximately as follows:

The key to me seems to be whether the FDP can surmount the 5% minimum required for parliamentary representation. Paradoxically, Merkel's popularity might make that more difficult. If they fail, she has lost her current and natural coalition partner and is down to c. 40% of the poll. The FDP always seem to be in trouble coming up to recent elections, and they always seem to make in in the end thanks to some CDU leaning voters voting tactically for them to keep them in the game. But if everybody expects them to make it, the reverse could also happen!

The most popular option for government is a Grand Coalition of the CDU/CSU with the SPD. But with Merkel so dominant, the SPD and Peer Steinbrück might be less than keen to play second fiddle this time around and so might seek to cobble together an alternative coalition with the Greens and even, shock horror, with Die Linke. Even if the FDP do achieve the 5% minimum, an SPD/Green/linke coalition currently stands at 47% of the vote compared to 45% for the current CDU/CSU/FDP coalition. But are Die Linke still off limits for Government participation in Germany?


The Pirate, Alternative for Germany (AfD), and right wing neo-nazis parties are unlikely to reach the 5% minimum required for parliamentary representation, but will they take some votes away from the mainstream parties and thus effect the overall outcome? I wouldn't be too hopeful that an SPD led coalition would be all that radically different from a Merkel led coalition, but at least a few different policy options might hove into public discourse. Or would they end up being more conservative than the conservatives themselves, and would a dominant and confident Merkel have more freedom of action for radical policy departures from the current status quo?

I would welcome the participation of those with more knowledge of German politics to help educate us on what the political and policy outcomes could be. Can we expect more of the same austerity economics after the election, or are there the rumblings of change in the German body politic, and how will this effect the rest of Europe?

Display:
I haven't seen anything to indicate that the SPD wouldn't join a Merkel government or that they would consider cooperation with the Left. Steinbrück did already serve under her after all.
by generic on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 08:21:41 AM EST
A swedish kind of death:

SPD has declared against grand coalition and also against coalition with Die Linke. If no other majority coalition can be formed (CDU+FDP lacks majority and Greens balk at CDU+Greens) I think they will break the first declaration before they break the second.

So Merkel will be with us.

Still the most probable scenario I think. But the SPD might prefer to be the senior rather than the junior coalition partner, and Steinbrück might prefer to be Chancellor this time around.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 08:38:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And now I have to find links for it.

I know it has been discussed in news threads, but here is a fresh article on the grand coalition question.

German SPD faces shaky future as support for Steinbrueck sags | Reuters

Steinbrueck has ruled out participating in another "grand coalition" under Merkel. His ally Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the SPD parliamentary leader and a former foreign minister who was crushed by Merkel in 2009, is also known to be deeply skeptical.

Perhaps more importantly, so is Hannelore Kraft, the popular SPD state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, whose influence could grow significantly if the party turns in another disastrous performance next month.

And an old one on coalition with Linke.

Peer Steinbrück : "Merkel will lieber mit SPD als FDP regieren" - Nachrichten Politik - Deutschland - DIE WELT

Welt am Sonntag: Kann eine Partei wie die Linke Deutschland regieren?

Steinbrück: Nein. Die Linke ist außen-, europa- und bündnispolitisch nicht verlässlich. Ihre Wirtschafts- und Finanzpolitik folgt dem Motto "Wünsch dir was ...".



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 04:40:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about Germany, but in Ireland such pre-election positional smack talk needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. The election results create a new reality, and it is the mathematics of the seat distribution which ultimately determines the options.
Steinbrück could easily just say - I know I said before the election that I felt Die Linke lacked credibility, but the electorate have now spoken otherwise and I must respect the electorate's decision...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would have been viable two or even one election cycles ago, when Linke would still have been the junior partner in such a coalition.

As it is, Linke would be a coequal coalition partner with the SPD, and this the SPD will never permit. They would rather face the music in splendid isolation.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How could Die Linke, at 8%, be a co-equal partner with the SPD, at 25%?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:22:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They've started winning state elections.

Also, the SPD are, how to put this delicately, fucking incompetents who couldn't negotiate their way out of a wet paper bag.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:32:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They've started winning state elections.

What do you mean? They never won a state election, they could only beat the SPD to second place in some eastern state elections, but that happened before.

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:40:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unlike their French or Spanish counterparts, the SPD will forever crucify itself over its relationship with its left flank. It's cultural. And delusional. In a recent interview, writer Günther Grass (an SPD supporter ever since the war) attacked Lafontaine as traitor to the SPD, and claimed that it's Lafontaine's strategy as Left Party leader that prevents a coming-together of the two parties...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:36:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That said, in that old exchange with Katrin I dug up, I found a line from her on the dilemma which describes my sentiments whenever I curse the SPD:

It's always the same problem: you can't make reasonable politics with the SPD and you can't make reasonable politics without them.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 06:02:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And if you were in doubt, Steinbrück just outlined a policy which parts of the CDU would like but the SPD's potential non-Grand-COalition coalition partner would hate: lowering energy prices by (1) forcing utilities to cut prices, (2) reducing support for renewables and (3) reducing energy tax...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:52:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So when did a mainstream (Non-green) politician ever gain election by promising to increase energy prices? Of course if he does negotiate a deal with the Greens he will finnesse this by insisting on (1) and (3) - which will be popular with lower income voters - and conceding on (2). (Never mind that EON have just posted a 42% drop in profits already).

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:06:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So when did a mainstream (Non-green) politician ever gain election by promising to increase energy prices?

I don't know, but there have been several who won without promising to cut them.

if he does negotiate a deal with the Greens he will finnesse this by insisting on (1) and (3)

That's still bad. For one, adopting the false view permeated by the energy industry and right-wing parties which plame feed-in rates rather than industry exemptions for retail price increases is damaging even if it is 'just' a negotiating chip. Thus it also excludes the one change that should really be implemented. Furthermore, (3) includes ecological tax, an addition by the Greens they wouldn't and shouldn't give up.

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:27:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it also excludes the one change that should really be implemented

Upon checking the details, I take that back: Steinbrück did, in fact, propose the capping of industry exemptions! (The short news I read this morning claimed that he wants to cap "subsidies for renewables".)

As for the energy tax, the proposal is a 25% cut, and that for a lowering of retail prices by a mere 0.5 €-cents/KWh: that's still stupid.

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:33:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"For one, adopting the false view permeated by the energy industry and right-wing parties which plame "feed-in rates rather than industry exemptions for retail price increases is damaging even if it is 'just' a negotiating chip. "

Would you mind to point out where exactly in the paper this position is taken?

"(3) includes ecological tax, an addition by the Greens they wouldn't and shouldn't give up."

A cut of 25% in the electricity tax is proposed as intermediate measure for the next two years.

I should add that all this will not decrease energy prices but rather stop the projected increase.

by IM on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:37:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just did read your paper and I have to disagree with your interprewtation that there is anythin in there taht wuold clash with the favoured energy policies of the greens and/or the left.
by IM on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:24:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not your paper of course but the Steinbrück-Machnig paper.
by IM on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:30:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So as said upthread, (2) is really about reducing industry rebates ("exemptions") under the feed-in law – this episode should teach me to not trust even ARD even on a summary of a major party's position...

I checked now what the Greens say. Former environment minister Jürgen Trittin wrote the reaction. It is generally congratulatory, focuses on the cut in the industry subsidies arising via the feed-in law 'exemptions', but chides the idea of the energy tax cut mildly in this context ("The redirection of these getting-out-of-hand subventions for the clientele is much more expedient than energy tax relief") and calls the SPD's plans timid, claiming that the SPD's plans would bring reductions of half a billion while the Greens have plans that would bring 4 billion.

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 12:03:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The situation is paradox. Europe is staring at these elections. German policy regarding the Euro and the EU is determined by one thing: these elections. As a voter I don't know why I should bother, though. Merkel will win, and even if Steinbrück did, the policy would be almost the same.
by Katrin on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 08:22:19 AM EST
But if "everybody" thinks that - or at least if this is the overwhelming public expectation - the alternative scenarios I have sketched out in the diary are still possible!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 08:32:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's as if there is no campaign at all. This morning on ARD (the first public television), there was a segment which started with the talking head saying "there is an election campaign going on, in case you failed to notice". And a few days ago, the SPD's Müntefering (of all people) criticised the way Steinbrück was made chancellor candidate, without a campaign team or strategy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:03:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel will win, and even if Steinbrück did, the policy would be almost the same.

If it's not too painful to think back, at what point did you lose your optimism? (In retrospect, even I was too optimistic: I didn't expect the possibility of black-yellow clawing back enough in the polls to have a chance at election victory...)

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:28:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a combination of points rather. Steinbrück is even worse than expected during the campaign. There is not enough pressure to push him into the right direction, or better, get a new candidate. One should expect that some SPD members or even some district organisations demand a change of course, right? The few encouraging signals there are are very muted. The SPD needs more time being out of power for the necessary renewal. If they win now, they will stay the same. The only problem is, we don't have that time.
by Katrin on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 05:12:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The election result is inconclusive regardless of whether the FDP make 5%. Neither the CDU/CSU/FDP nor the SDP/Greens have an overall majority. The Greens don't want to be the minor partner in either a CDU or SPD led coalition but would prefer to be the central player in a three party coalition.

The SPD "tries" to negotiate a Grand Coalition in line with popular wishes but "discovers" after a week or so that agreement with Merkel is not possible. Merkel is said to want too much power for herself and her cronies.

Die Linke make a pitch for greater mainstream electoral acceptability by "offering" to help form a coalition. Perhaps back channel talks have been taking place with the SPD in any case. The SPD sees these as mainly an opportunity to wring further concessions from Merkel by playing one off against the other.

But Merkel stays strong banking on her much greater personal popularity. Steinbrück has already been a senior minister and sees this as his last shot at the top job given that he is unlikely to survive the SPD's disappointing performance otherwise. On a contingency basis he cuts a deal with Die Linke - either for them to be a formal part of a coalition, or for them to support a minority SPD/Green coalition in return for policy commitments.

Steinbrück justifies the whole process on the basis of the inconclusive electoral result, Merkel's obstinacy  and the need for a fresh start. The SPD need Merkel out of the way if they are to have any chance of regaining the status of being the largest party. The left wing of his party are more comfortable with Die Linke policies in any case.

Merkel is shafted and the new German government makes lots of reformist noises a la Hollande. Not a lot new or very different happens. Germany and the EU muddle along from one crisis to the next. The Peripheral EU states are left out to dry. Everyone is disillusioned. It doesn't matter much anyway...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:48:03 AM EST
The Greens don't want to be the minor partner in either a CDU or SPD led coalition but would prefer to be the central player in a three party coalition.
Greens are aiming for SPD/Green, that's the 'natural' combination as it has been in many state coalitions and in 1998. "Central player in a three party coalition"? It would help to be party with the most votes. In any case, CDU/SPD/Green and, despite all the talk, CDU/Green is off too.

Also I'm not so sure about people are clamoring for a repeat of the grand coalition. Journos are reading some sort of proto nostalgia (for the 'glory days' of 2005-2009) into those numbers. But it's just a function of the polls in a five party system, an SPD that doesn't know what it's about (voters seem to share that feeling), the popularity of the teflon chancellor, and maybe the general complacent Gemütlichkeit of the populace.

The red-red-green option is certainly a possibility but unlikely.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 04:05:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But which would you say is most likely if we get a parliament where neither CDU+FDP nor SPD+Greens can command a majority of the seats. Grand coalition or red-red-green?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:02:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Grand coalition. It's known and 'tested' while the one attempt to form a red-red-green coalition in Hessen failed spectacularly after much incrimination. Some media outlets recently quoted SPD and CDU politicians from the second row who strategically didn't want to rule out a grand coalition.

Oh, for heaven's sake. Does soma always have to be president?

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:22:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and Chancellor too!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:49:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The FDP always seem to be in trouble coming up to recent elections, and they always seem to make in in the end thanks to some CDU leaning voters voting tactically for them to keep them in the game. But if everybody expects them to make it, the reverse could also happen!

It's worse than that: in the last federal elections, the FDP achieved exceptionally high numbers thanks to CDU voters who weren't merely intent on saving the FDP, but wanted to vote against a Grand Coalition.

Even if the FDP do achieve the 5% minimum, an SPD/Green/linke coalition currently stands at 47% of the vote compared to 45% for the current CDU/CSU/FDP coalition.

The exact ratio depends on the poll (in some the government is already above red-red-green), but, unfortunately, the trend is up for the government.

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:59:33 AM EST
Well if CDU voters vote FDP to scupper a Grand Coalition again, they may get their way even if the combined CDU/CSU/FDP fails to gain an overall majority. I agree that it's too close to call given recent polls, but I was trying to game out ways in which the obvious Merkel Chancellorship might not happen - even if a majority of German voters wanted it and thought they were voting for it.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Getting worse everywhere.

Almost Half of Greens Want Merkel

SPIEGEL alert

the actual title in Der Spiegel leaves out the almost (for 45%).

they've also had an both language article about how the German electorate is sleeping through this while election. and i'd bet money that the economic statistics showing a slight "awakening" in both the german and Yurpeen economies will be revised downward after the election.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:11:19 AM EST
There is some US research indicating that it is voters perceptions of how the economy is doing in the last few weeks and months before the election rather than its performance over the past 4/5 years that influences their vote. Expect lots of "Green shoots" stories in the next few weeks.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:14:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Over the past two months or so, while doing Salons, I repeatedly came across Spiegel articles and op-eds lamenting about the lack of a clear-cut campaign – which invariably turned out to be sulking about Merkel not choosing to act as a neoliberal revolutionary like in 2005. Never mind that the Shock Doctrine application she and Schäuble push for in other EU states does in fact constitute a neoliberal revolution.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:39:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
while doing Salons

I mean, Newsrooms...

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 12:05:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tut, tut! Have you not had your facelift? Someone might thing you are an old school ETet! When can we expect DoDo2.0?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 12:21:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Katrin on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 12:14:01 PM EST
One unexpected revelation for me: the CDU has the lowest share of both unemployed people and people in households with less than €1,000 a month. But overall, the differences between the parties in the income distribution of their voters is less strong than I expected: say, even for the Left Party and far-right parties, the below-€1,000 and above-€2,500 segments are a matching one-fifth, and the FDP still gets 10% from those below €1,000.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:04:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow the FDP gets c. 10% of the below €1,000 income group compared to 5% across all income groups? Is this the pensioner vote?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:20:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where do you get that 5%?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:31:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He means that they are at 5% in the polls.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:37:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I misread, but you misread too: it's not 10% of the below €1,000 income group who vote FDP, but 10% of FDP voters who are in the below €1,000 income group.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:42:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, so if the below €1000 group represent 20% of the electorate, and the FDP gets 10% of its (5% = 0.5%) vote from that group, then it gets 0.5/20*100 = 2.5% of that groups vote compared to 5% nationally - or half its national average - not twice as I thought above.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 06:02:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The below €1000 group represents 20% of the electorate of the far-right parties, and that is the highest figure. Weighting by poll numbers from the summer of 2011 and the ratio of non-voters in the 2009 elections, I get a national average of around 12.5%. This gives the FDP 3-4% of that group's vote, and accounting for non-voters will bring the figure even closer to the national average.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 06:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just thinking about scenarios, if Piraten or AfD or both makes it into parliament. Then, would not Germany's strong tradition of majority governments and scepticism about new parties only make Merkel even more unavoidable as chancellor?

With several parties that are to new or to left to include in a coalition, forming a majority without CDU would be impossible. Or would there be a new election?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 04:48:35 PM EST
I suppose it depends on at whose expense these parties manage to make 5%. In the UK the Tories are seriously threaned by the Eurosceptic UKIP to their right, so if there is a wave of Euroscepticism, it is conceivable the CDU vote could suffer at the hands of the AfD.  But yes, it is hardly credible that a four party government could be formed in Germany, and the more the fragmentation, the greater the advantage for the largest party..

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 04:59:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at the polling numbers, they've been remarkably stable all year:

CDU/CSU:  38 - 42 (2009 results - 33.8%)
SDP: 24 - 28 (2009 results - 23.0%)
FDP: 4 - 6 (2009 results - 14.6%)
GREEN: 13 - 16 (2009 results - 10.7%)
LINKE: 6 - 9 (2009 results - 11.9%)

Curiously no undecideds are reported.  What's up with that?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:43:37 PM EST
German pollsters usually publish numbers that have been processed a lot: assumptions about how undecideds break (they usually don't bring much of a surprise anyway), assumptions about how people who may react to the news of the day when responding to the pollster will think back on voting tradition once in the voter booth, claimed past voting history and so on. While this may sound like numbers wizardy, pollsters usually aren't off by a lot.

Regarding the remarkable stability, those few percent shifts can make up all the difference if going in one direction, or, as in the FDPs case, through the 5% limit.

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:53:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How boring life must be without skewed polls. In Ireland they simply report % party support with and without undecideds included. It generally doesn't matter much except early in the campaign when the undecided % can be very high and may yet break one way or the other. Votes on issues in referenda are a different matter. If the undecided are 50% and don't bother voting the result can be decided by just 25% of the electorate - and the side which has more committed supporters ends up winning even if they don't represent a true majority view.

With turnout in German elections declining from 90% to 70% over the past 40 years, voter intensity or party loyalty may be becoming an increasingly important factor. If say the Piraten supporters are very motivated, this could help them reach 5% if overall  turnout is low. Which parties are more likely to inspire a higher turnout amongst their supporters? Does Germany follow the international pattern of older, wealthier voters being more likely to vote? How does the growing non-ethnic German population vote?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 06:24:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Numbers on voter activism, at least in the form of a figure on expected turnout, are pretty standard in my region. I seem to recall that years ago, German pollsters had figures on expected turnout, but now that's totally absent, and I don't understand why, it looks like a serious omission.

I remember reading that far-right and Left Party voters are the most disciplined, but this was several years ago, too.

Regarding non-voters, the one trend that transpires in Katrin's link is that they have the highest share of the jobless. As for age, check page 7: the average age of non-voters is pretty smack in the middle of the range, with CDU voters being the oldest and Greens voters the youngest on average. I have a supicion however that there is a regional asymmetry in age trends: more older non-voters in the east.

In all such polls I saw, the non-ethnic-German vote goes overwhelmingly to the left-of-centre parties. A recent poll of Turkish-origin Germans showed a 64% support for the SPD and 23% for the Greens, followed by 7% for the CDU/CSU.

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

by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 06:42:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
A recent poll of Turkish-origin Germans showed a 64% support for the SPD and 23% for the Greens, followed by 7% for the CDU/CSU.

It seems reasonable that they would support secular rather than a "Christian" or German nationalist party even if their social conservatism is more in line with conservative parties. Does the CDU/CSU even attempt to compete for their vote? With their growing proportion of the population, their turnout could be crucial to the overall result. To pollsters control for ethnic origin?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 07:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is another poll with a different result:

Turkish Voters In Germany Turn Away From SPD - SPIEGEL ONLINE

According to a poll commissioned by the online newspaper Deutsch-Türkisches Journal (DTJ), 90 percent of German-Turks intend to vote in the German elections in late September -- a 15 percent increase over the last election in 2009.

But their growing political participation is bringing with it a change in their political affiliations. Marking something of a departure from their previous behavior at the ballot box, the poll shows that 43 percent plan to cast their votes for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) -- compared to 50 percent in 2009 -- 22 percent for the Green Party and 20 percent for Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-left Christian Democrats, up from 11 percent during the last election.

Spiegel trumops up the result, but I note that this is the first poll by a new pollster (one established specifically for polls of immigrants and their descendants).

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

by DoDo on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 03:09:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think without saying this poll is right the long term trend is away from the SPD and to a more normal distribution. All parties including CDU/CSU nowadays care more about the votes of voters with an immigration background.
by IM on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 03:34:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they do their stats correctly, then what they do is to ask people what they are going to vote and what they voted last time. And then they normalize to the actual voting record.

The theory is that they may not have gotten a representative sample of the population because voters from certain parties may have higher rates of refusing to respond, or may be harder to reach for technical reasons - e.g. because they have different cell phone penetration (for a long time pollsters would not call cell phones, because this introduces issues with people having different numbers of phone numbers). But within each party's partisans from the last election, they presumably do have a representative sample. Or at least a closer to representative one.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 03:25:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"If you intend to vote on 22th Sept, do you already know which party?"

http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2013-08/yougov-umfrage-bundestagswahl

by Katrin on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 07:06:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
29% undecided is very high, and calls into question the reliability of polls taken to date. Some pollsters try to reduce this number by pushing for "leaners" with follow up questions like "who did you vote for last time?", "who would you be most likely to vote for?" etc.

Some people are just coy or shy when asked by a stranger how they intend to vote, but most betray some sort of preference in follow up questions.

However if 29% are truly undecided, and if even 15% of them eventually vote, that could have a major bearing on the final outcome. What is likely to influence their final decision?

  1. Perceptions of the campaign
  2. Perceptions derived from the media, friends, family etc.
  3. Personal Like/dislike of Merkel, Steinbruck etc.
  4. Fears for their job prospects and who they think would be better on the economy
  5. Ideological support for left/right wing or environmental concerns

How are the main parties differentiating themselves - Merkel seems to be running on her "record", so the key to the outcome is how the media portrays that record. If Merkel is the most popular candidate, the CDU will run a very personality driven campaign, whereas the others will focus on policy etc.

IS Europe even an issue in the campaign? What are the top 5 issues that people will base their vote on?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 07:34:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I understand it, the question was not to the interviewees who already had said they didn't intend to vote.

"IS Europe even an issue in the campaign?"

Which campaign?

by Katrin on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 08:15:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However if 29% are truly undecided, and if even 15% of them eventually vote, that could have a major bearing on the final outcome.

Can you give examples of recent elections when a last-minute major shift could be explained by undecideds breaking in a significantly different way than the rest of voters? (I remember several elections when one or bnoth sides put their hopes in undecideds but it came to nothing, but there could be exceptions.)

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

by DoDo on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 03:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are right that undecided generally vote (where they vote at all) broadly in proportion to the rest of the electorate and therefore don't effect the outcome much - although I do recall reading that in the US undecided used to break more against the incumbent - a trend that has not materialized in more recent elections. However I think the quality of the campaign run by the main parties does matter and can persuade/motivate genuine undecided to vote in a particular way - particularly for voters who normally don't pay much attention to politics and who may not even know some of the main candidates/policy differences at this relatively early stage in the campaign.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 06:47:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
genuine undecided

What does that mean? More broadly, what kinds of undecideds are out there? I can think of:

  • voters displeased with their traditional party and considering whether to vote at all;
  • voters displeased with their traditional party and considering a protest vote;
  • voters considering a tactical vote;
  • voters vacillating between two parties in a government coalition or a likely future government coalition;
  • voters not bound by political camps considering the two biggest parties as options;
  • voters not bound by political camps considering all parties as options.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 06:26:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my case I meant nothing more than voters who had not yet decided whether and how to vote. In Ireland - I don't know about other countries - there is a tradition of playing your cards close to your chest and not necessarily revealing party preferences, especially to strangers and pollsters. Such voters may appear in polls as undecided, but may already be reasonably sure how they will end up voting, or may not be bothered about voting at all, but don't necessarily reveal this to others..

All your categories of undecided tend to assume a certain level of engagement with and rational evaluation of the political process and the options it provides. I suspect a lot of "undecideds" have almost no knowledge, engagement, or interest in the political process at all - who may or may not end up voting - and if they do it may simply be out of some vague sense of civic duty or because someone they are with at the time happens to be voting.

I'm not suggesting their voting is entirely random, but may be as ephemeral as the fact that they like the way someone looks on an election poster, the way someone spoke on a TV programme for two minutes, or by their friends attitude or family tradition. Those of us who are interested in politics often over-estimate the degree to which others are. I know lots of people who don't have TV's and never read newspapers.  Their world and the political system just never collide...

Until they do.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 07:43:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All your categories of undecided tend to assume a certain level of engagement with and rational evaluation of the political process and the options it provides

Methinks the last two don't and cover the voters you describe.

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

by DoDo on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 09:56:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except their not doing much "considering" of any kind

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 10:11:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I may have missed the precise connotations of the word in English, but I think any choice, even if it's the enactment of a "vague sense of civic duty", or "they like the way someone looks on an election poster, the way someone spoke on a TV programme for two minutes, or by their friends attitude or family tradition", then they considered choices. (In general, I'm not the one to be accused of thinking of most voters as rational actors :-) )

At any rate, my point was that there are many possible reasons to tell a pollster that you're undecided, reasons which relate to the potential election outcome differently.

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

by DoDo on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 01:05:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Angela Merkel launches re-election campaign with warning on European debt addiction

Campaign posters presented positive if vague slogans - "Successful Together" and "Strong Economy" - while she warned her audience they faced higher taxes and a likely return to euro crisis instability if they backed a Social Democratic Party (SPD)-Green coalition on September 22nd.

"When someone is successful the first thing the SPD and Greens ask is what can be taken away from them," she claimed. "Germany is well-placed today. But if we don't make progress very quickly we could run into situation where other countries pass us by."


A bit of scaremongering, nationalism and accusing the opposition of wanting to take away your success never went astray in an election campaign, So who presided over the Eurocrises, economic stagnation, and debt explosions?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 09:25:12 PM EST
Conservatism: sell past failure as solution for tomorrow.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 03:17:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is an interactive toy, with an explanatory video. Enjoy. I have to get back at redecorating. I have less time for this thread than I would wish.

You can use the Wahlatlas

Wahlatlas and the results of 2009

by Katrin on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 05:17:43 AM EST
Fascinating.

Though surely there is something wrong with the Pirate votes in Saxony, where the map gives 0.0 everywhere. Or did they fail to register there?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 06:16:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly: the Pirates didn't run in Saxony.
by Katrin on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 06:35:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes - no candidates

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 06:42:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wish comedian Volker Pispers wouldn't be a lone voice in the desert but Germany's Beppe Grillo. For the German-speakers, here he is explaining some aspects of the 'debt crisis' in Greece and elsewhere and connects it to tax refugees in Switzerland (he proposes each EU country to send one million jobless people as tax collectors to Switzerland):

(Pispers' segment actually starts 4:10 in.) Here he explains the 'rescue' of Cyprus (audio only):

Another short segment on saving (also mentioning the train cancellations due to insufficient dispatcher staff in Mainz):

Here is a video from 2007, in which he talks about Merkel's popularity for doing nothing, the SPD's betrayal of their own voters:



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

by DoDo on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 01:18:33 PM EST
Pispers: Frau Merkel zitiere ich nur wörtlich. Es gibt keine bessere Möglichkeit sie zu beleidigen. (I only quote Ms Merkel verbatim. I have found no better way to insult her.)

Doing nothing, sitting quietly, and waiting for something in a time of crisis, are natural response mechanisms. Which Merkel emulates in the political sphere with her reactive MO.

Wolfgang Münchau keeps telling us that the shit will hit the economic fan. A major loss for European taxpayers in Greece is in the cards with with the coming round of restructuring. Which will break the narrative of the safety and security chancellor. After three terms everyone (probably including Ms Merkel) will be fed up with chancellor Merkel. I don't expect an economic big bang (Münchau: "wird uns um die Ohren fliegen.") but a continuation of the economic setback that will last for decades and will be absorbed in the quiet sadness that we allow to pass beneath us.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 04:28:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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