Sun Aug 14th, 2005 at 07:35:48 AM EST
Since jandsm can not proceed with his election countdown today, I am going to try to fill the gap until he comes back.
Countdown Germany: Day -35. Reflections on a slow news Sunday
Despite the official campaign kickoff of chancellor Schröder yesterday, today is a rather slow news Sunday. Currently both big parties, the Social Democrats (SPD) because of a considerable lack of inspiration and the conservatives (CDU/CSU) because of dissension about the political strategy, are not able to set an agenda: This year's race rather looks like a convulsion than an election campaign. Meanwhile, the High Court, which has to decide whether the dissolving of the Bundestag was constitutional, seems to be in favor of allowing new elections.
- Campaign kickoff of a different kind: CDU/CSU
- President Bush: Still Schröder's best canvasser?
- Where have the issues gone?
- What Germans talk about today.
[UPDATE: 21.50 CEST] Ok, afternoon brought interesting news: There will be a TV discussion between Stoiber and Left Party candidate Oskar Lafontaine. This looks like a major affront against CDU-candidate Angela Merkel who will now be regarded as not being able to tackle her political opponents on her own. Up to now, there has been no comment by Mrs. Merkel. But I can hardly believe that she gave her blessing to Stoiber's move. Again: The rift among Germany's conservatives continues to grow.
Campaign kickoff of a different kind: CDU/CSU
What first looked like a "normal" gaffe by Bavaria's prime minister Edmund Stoiber (CSU), now developed into the first main "theme" of the election campaigns' hot phase. Media coverage focuses on Stoiber's remarks about East German voters being dull and frustrated, culminating in a statement that compared them to "stupid calves". Polemicising against the political preference of a large part of the East German electorate for the new Left Party, Stoiber aimed at solidifying support for his party in Bavaria.
Concentrating on his regional electorate in the south, Stoiber (along with Baden-Württemberg's prime Minister Günther Oettinger) reveals a stunning indifference towards the strategy of his partner party CDU and chancellorship candidate Angela Merkel.
It seems that the north/south-cleavage in the CDU/CSU has opened wide: As has become public today, the CDU/CSU strategy meeting last Wednesday ended in a clash between Stoiber and Lower-Saxony prime minister Christian Wulff over the campaign strategy. While Wulff wants to conduct a "governmental" campaign, Stoiber demands a more aggressive approach against the Left Party, whose rise in poll numbers threatens a possible conservative majority. In the strategy meeting, Merkel was not able to solve the conflict. Since Stoiber is unwilling to retract his statement, the conflict among the conservatives should continue to supply chancellor Gerhard Schröder with decent campaign ammunition.
President Bush: Still Schröder's best canvasser?
Yesterday Schröder started his campaign in Hanover with a well-known motif: He criticised President Bush's adherence to military options towards Iran. But since the last elections in 2002 when his opposition against the war in Iraq saved him his job, the situation has changed considerably: This time, Germany's conservatives can refer to the joint European commitment to a diplomatic solution - in 2002, they were not able to distance themselves from Bush's war. They will not make the the same mistake again. Consequently, the war theme will most probably be at the periphery of this year's election campaign. That Schröder made it the central point of his kickoff speech indicates, in fact, the Social Democrats' lack of political inspiration.
Where have the issues gone?
Germany's deficit is exploding. So does the oil price, threatening the already appalingly slow economic growth. More than five Million people are jobless and have to cope with severe cuts in the unemployment benefits. The federal system desperately needs reform to end the continuing political stasis.
All these issues are amazingly absent from TV news and newspapers these days. The parties have severe difficulties to set political agendas. The political system as we knew it shows clear signs of exhaustion, and the political landscape is about to change for good. The most obvious sign is the rise of the new Left Party. So watch out for this year's elections, they will be of big historical importance - despite the lack of political issues.
What Germans talk about today
Isn't it a sign of political sanity that people are talking about football rather than politics this weekend?
Bayer Leverkusen - Bayern München 2:5
Bor. Mönchengladbach - VfL Wolfsburg 1:1
Borussia Dortmund - FC Schalke 04 1:2
Hertha BSC - Eintracht Frankfurt 2:0
Kaiserslautern - MSV Duisburg 5:3
Nürnberg - Hannover 96 1:1
Arminia Bielefeld - Hamburger SV 0:2
Jandsm, you got 3 out of 7 right. Better luck next time :)
Have a nice Sunday afternoon!