Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Countdown Germany: Day -34

by jandsm Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 03:23:34 AM EST

As Saturday concluded correctly, it was a very slow news day. This in itself is actually news: just one month away from the federal election, there is no debate on the issues the campaigns should be about, i.e. unemployment, economic strategies, civil rights... Yet all we got are a series of gaffes and intimidations. Can there be a clearer signal for the crisis of Germany's ruling political elite?

Anyway. Today:

  • Stoiber wants a duel - and reveals his true strategy
  • Legal Experts want to challenge the election in court anyway
  • History Monday: the 44th birthday of the Berlin wall
  • Movie review

Stoiber: a wild westerner

Edmund Stoiber challenged one of the two leading candidates of the LINKSPARTEI, Oscar Lafontaine, for a public debate on TV: a 'duel', as it is known here. This was a very male thing to do. It is this mano-o-mano attitude I always disliked. In the headquarters of the LINKSPARTEI, they are probably opening the bottles of champagne, or the communist equivalent"Rotkäppchen Sekt, since no party not represented in parliament has ever been CHALLANGED to a televised debate. September will now have two competing debates: the boring one between Schröder and Merkel who will both compete who looks more chancellorish and the fun one with Lafontaine, who already "happily accepted", and Stoiber. I believe Stoibers debating skills are a disaster and he will be destroyed again by the former SPD chairman-turned-strange-populist.

More important I believe whom Stoiber decided not to debate. Would he be concerned about the East and the results of the CDU in this region of Germany, he would have asked to debate Gregor Gysi, the prominent co-No1 candidate of the LINKSPARTEI from the East. Lafontaine was nominated by the WASG and isn't even campaigning in Eastern Germany. I am convinced that Stoibers so-called gaffes were part of a broader idea to gain votes in West Germany by exploiting anti-Eastern sentiments. This is an inner-West struggle. Whether this calculation will work out, is still to be seen. But it seems to fail, because even conservative media did not play along. Anyway, those of you who speak German and have access to German TV can already happily look forward for a nice an unexpected highlight of a so far boring campaign.

Legal Experts want to sue anyway

Among others, the law professor Wolfgang Löwer, has announced he would challenge the elections in court if the LINKSPARTEI were accepted on the ballot. [link]. So far, the real battlefields of these elections were courthouses and law seminars. Is this Americanization?

I personally doubt, any in judge in Germany would ever declare a federal election invalid. So far, only once an election had to be repeated: Hamburg state elections in 1993. A CDU member had filed a lawsuit proving the party's candidate-finding mechanism was "undemocratic".

44 years of the Berlin wall

I missed on Friday the 44th anniversary of the infamous Berlin wall - the monument of the terror of the dictatorship in East Germany. Angela Merkel and Berlin's gay mayor Klaus Wowereit commemmorated the day at a solemn ceremony in Berlin.

On August 13, 1961, the GDR fortified the border through Berlin by building a wall. This put an end to the migration from East to West Germany. I remember as a child to travel to Berlin in 1988 and I remember the fear when we drove through the GDR to Berlin on the "Transit-Autobahn" and I remember to look from the back of the Reichstag on the wall and the Brandenburg gate. This is all unthinkable today and future generations will never completely understand the experience in its terrifying totality.

I also remember being in Berlin on the first weekend of December 1990, 3 weeks after the opening of the borders, and with my little hammer, hacking little pieces out of the wall as a souvenir. Thus, Friday I did not only commemorate those who died but I also thought of those who brought this monster down in Germany's only successful political revolution.

Movie review

Not by myself. Werner Herzog made a new movie "Grizzly man" and Slate has a great review. It sounds like he did another brilliant documentary.

Though I am still unsure who was the madder of the two, it is always worth watching his Klaus Kinsky documentary again.

Personal remark: I had some very hard days and I want to thank all of you for your condolences. I really appreciated you nice and encouraging comments and it felt good to know Eurotrib is developing into much more than just another blog. Thank you very much.

To broarden the perspectives in the news roundup on the German elections, I got in contact with Saturday: Starting today, I will write a "countdown"- diary on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, mostly in the morning.

He will bring you an update on Tuedday, Thursday and obviously Saturday.

by jandsm on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 03:27:21 AM EST
That sounds great. Thanks for all your work, especially after a hard weekend.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 04:10:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seconded :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 07:36:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How is Merkel reacting to Stoiber organising that debate (in her back?)? Again saying that it is "unhelpful"? Is this going to impact the future cabinet, should it be formed with the CDU/CSU?

And jansdm - my thought to you and your family.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 09:02:17 AM EST
Stoiber is chickening out. His speaker just announced, he would only agree to a "printed debate". [German Link]

And you can be sure, this has an impact: I believe Stoiber has just made it impossible for him to get a job on the federal level. I also believe he will have to step aside in Bavaria in a forseeable future.

by jandsm on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 09:37:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome back, jandsm, and take care of yourself...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 12:59:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you can be sure, this has an impact: I believe Stoiber has just made it impossible for him to get a job on the federal level. I also believe he will have to step aside in Bavaria in a forseeable future.

My centrist and center-rightish Bavarian friends will be shedding no tears over that.

by Texmandie on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 02:58:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry for the quibbling, jandsm - but: borders opened in November 1989, not 1990.

The first step toward the total removal of the wall happened on November 9, 1989, at about 7 PM. Gunter Schabowski, leader of the East Berlin communist party, announced that the border would be opened for "private trips abroad." After this announcement spread among the people massive gatherings began around the wall. Wall "woodpeckers" started tearing down parts of the wall almost immediately. This began large scale emigration out of East Berlin. On November 10, 1989, and December 22, 1989, checkpoints were opened for pedestrians. Again parties broke out. On July 1, 1990, East and West Germany reunited. It assumed West Germany's former name, The Federal Republic of Germany. All travel restrictions were dropped. Almost the entire wall has been taken down. It is still in place as a memorial at the Bernauer Strasse and in front of the Neiderkirchnerstrasse, the former Prussian Parliament and current Berlin Parliament.

On the site I grabbed this, there's also a video (in English) with a VERY brief history of the Cold War in Germany.

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 04:14:06 PM EST
this was a typo :-)
by jandsm on Tue Aug 16th, 2005 at 03:30:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]