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We discussed a BritBlog for a while, but in the end it didn't seem to be worth the effort.

In the US it's possible to influence local and national campaigns directly by throwing money at them. So senate and house seats will always have a few contenders from each party, and there's some prospect of influencing candidate selection, followed by candidate election.

In the UK candidates, are parachuted in from head office by party machines, and the faithful are then expected to support them. There's almost no bottom-up representation at all, which means there's no direct point of leverage. Most party constituency offices around the UK have a few tens of members, and contact with the rest of the population is limited or nonexistent.

So the only prospect for infuence is direct lobbying in Westminster, which is very expensive and difficult to organise, or media outreach, which needs a more lateral approach.

I'm not sure how things work in Germany, but I wouldn't be surprised if the situation is similar.

Then again - if Spiegel is being insulting about bloggers, that could be about to change.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 07:01:34 AM EST
Then again - if Spiegel is being insulting about bloggers, that could be about to change.

In the US the mainstream media decided to insult bloggers after they noted their own power slipping. But when it comes to Germany Spiegel is quite right. Blogs have no influence and are of poor quality. I think that has to do with the fact that people are more or less satisfied with the media they (actually "we") have. Additionally in Germany there have been no political developments comparable to what is happening in the US. The impeachment trial, the 2000 election, the Iraq war. Nothing comparable to that has happened in Germany. The reforms connected to the "Agenda 2010" have created a large amount of dissatisfied people, but they where able to assert them selfs by purely traditional political means.    

by rz on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 07:30:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the different political system plays a role.
USA - Powerful President and two political parties in Congress
UK - Parliamentary system but the election system favours Labour and Tories.
Germany - Parliamentary system with 5 parties

The system in Germany will almost always lead to a federal coalition government. Which will be pulled to the political center. If not of it´s own free will then after it looses a few state elections. (Lot´s of federal laws need the agreement of a majority of states.)

So we don´t have - at least till now - such large swings between "right" and "left" governments. Swings in the sense of large changes in domestic policies.
Plus, because you don´t know who´ll be your coalition partner after an election it wouldn´t be wise to start smear campaigns.

So the whole situation isn´t as polarized as in the USA for example. No situation like Supreme Court vs. Gore 2000. No Iraq war. And no blatant politicization of federal agencies in Germany. No smear campaigns.

So in the USA blogs took off in the 2000s.
You either defended the Republicans or you attacked them. No other possibility left for citizens.

In Germany left-wing people dissatisfied with Schroeder founded a new party. Maybe that´s a reason too. New parties have it much easier in Germany than in the USA or UK. Green Party in the 1980s, "Die Linke" now in the 2000s.
People who might become bloggers (in the USA) can help grow a new party here (in Germany).

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 11:55:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The system in Germany will almost always lead to a federal coalition government. Which will be pulled to the political center.

One should also mention that "centrist" in Germany really means centrist. That stands in strong contrast to "centrism" in the US which is often completely outside of the real majority opinion (for example the "social security reform" nonsense which is often propagated in the Washington Post).
by rz on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 12:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Totally true.

Not to mention that "centrist" in Germany is pretty close to socialism/communism according to the "serious" people in the USA. Republicans or media pundits for example. :)

I consider myself pretty mainstream in Germany. But according to the American "Political Compass" I´m a raging economical leftist and Social Libertarian.
Funny that.

The US media pushed "centrism" would be considered totally unacceptable even by the conservative parties in Germany.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 at 04:33:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uhm, totally I wouldn't say, ask Herr Schäuble and Herr Koch...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 03:00:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant mostly centrism in regard to economics. Further more, Koch never claimed that he is a centrist, nor did the media transport it that way. In all (most?) media reports about the issue it was pointed out how he is shifting further rightwards. The results of this election show clearly that rightwing populism doesn't go unpunished in Germany.
by rz on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 06:29:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I and Martin didn't claim Koch was centrist, either :-) Martin claimed that "even conservatives" in Germany are to the left of what counts for centrist in the USA, with which I can't agree totally.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 06:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Martin claimed that "even conservatives" in Germany are to the left of what counts for centrist in the USA,

I see it like this: When it comes to economics it is true, generally German politics is to the left of the US. But then there are some issues where it is definitely not true. For example I would say that Germans of all political persuasions have a rather restrictive few when it comes to immigration.

But all this is a little besides the point I tried to make. This is not about how German politics compares internationally, but how "centrism" is presented in the mainstream media. If some opinion is presented as "centrist" then it is most likely in the center of current pubic opinion. In the US media I have often the feeling this is not the case.

by rz on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 07:12:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have not said anything in this diary or in the comment section of this diary. You probably mean either rz or Detlef.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 09:31:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
D'oh! Of course I meant Detlef...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 09:46:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]

And no blatant politicization of federal agencies in Germany. No smear campaigns.

Very key differences, readily apparent to this Ausländer.  Danke.

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

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 03:08:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And no blatant politicization of federal agencies in Germany.

I´ve read somewhere - don´t know if it´s true - that a new US President can fill up to 3000 positions in the administration with political appointees?
In federal departments and agencies, federal prosecutors whatever...

That number is much lower in Germany.
Most positions here in the federal and state governments are civil servant positions. You just can´t throw them out and replace them with someone else. And in the rare cases the federal or state government asks such a civil servant to step down or retire early it will get scrutinized pretty closely. Not only from the opposition parties but by the media too.

And just to mention it. They can´t remove a federal prosecutor on their say so. It´s only possible if said prosecutor has violated a law.

Perhaps I should also mention that our law system is a bit different. In Germany if I tell a state attorney that a law was violated he/she is required by law to investigate my claim. It is unlawful for a prosecutor to just dismiss my claim. They can´t decide which cases to investigate and which cases to dismiss. They are rquired by law to investigate all of them.
(Only exception is that the federal government can tell a prosecutor not to take a case to court in the interest of foreign relations.)

No smear campaigns.

You know, after reading US media and blogs, I don´t think I have ever seen something similar in Germany.
It just isn´t done.
Personally attacking your political opponent just isn´t done. And if you do it, it might well backfire on you.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 at 04:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US system always had a huge number of Presidential political appointees to the various government agencies; what's different now is that the level of abuse by the bushco is unprecedented.  I can't find an analogue in German politics of Karl Rove.

The system was founded on checks and balances of the various institutions, as well as separation of powers. These bedrock principles no longer exist; thus the liklihood that the system is broken beyond repair.

Strangely, blogging is perhaps the main check on the system now, fulfilling the former role of the press, the Fourth Estate.  Prime example:  the detailed blogosphere scrutiny of the Plame case.  But even then the system miscarried justice, despite Libby's conviction. Despite the evidence, Cheney wasn't nailed.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 at 07:31:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, after reading US media and blogs, I don´t think I have ever seen something similar in Germany.
It just isn´t done.

When done, it is done much more sublimely. For example, when during and after the 2002 chancellor candidates' TV debate, Schröder and the SPD painted Stoiber a Besserwisser.

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

by DoDo on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 03:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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