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Elections South of the Veal Sausage Equator

by DoDo Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 12:25:30 PM EST

The local version of Weiwurst ( = veal sausage, lit. white sausage) is a Munich speciality. Weiwurstquator is a jestful designation of a supposed intra-German cultural barrier: those below it supposedly all talk differently (Upper German dialects), dress differently, are more traditional, conservative, and Catholic; are of a more cheerful nature, eat heavier food & drink lots of beer, and just think differently (speak: they're all a little bit goofy down there! sez one North German to another). I use the term in its most general sense, e.g. all of Southern Germany and Austria (though it more commonly refers to Old Bavaria, e.g. what's South of the Danube).

Today, Austria holds snap federal elections; while the German state of Bavaria holds its regular regional elections.

There are two things common in the two elections: on one hand, an outcome with the same parties in government as before is almost assured; on the other hand, the campaigns were still loud, with some strong controversies, and much attention to the performance of some smaller parties.

Update [2008-9-28 17:53:14 by DoDo]: preliminary results & seat distribution.

The dress question

Bavaria used to be one of the poorest states of Germany, with a very agrarian economy. Well, most of the countryside is still the same, but the region of Munich and some others made Bavaria one of the richest statest of Germany -- resulting in a situation of a perpetual right-wing majority enjoying the tax income of a more leftist capital.

That majority belongs to the Christian Socialists (CSU): with a platform of championing local interests, an 'uneroded' social conservatism, a Christian sense of the welfare state, and (more recently) strategic support for high-tech business, they ruled Bavaria with absolute majority practically since WWII. (At the federal level, they are in a permament alliance with the Christian Democrats [CDU]: the latter run in the 15 other German states only, the CSU only in Bavaria.)

A majority for the CSU is not in threat today, either. Especially with the ongoing crisis of the Social Democrats (SPD) -- who go into this election with the same leader with whom they got their worst-ever result last time. However, under the new leadership of arch-conservative law-and-order PM Gnther Beckstein and neolib party boss Erwin Huber (see Stoiber goes on the rise of both), despite heavy rhetoric (see "Immigrant youth crime": from campaign theme to blowback for the German Right for a taste of Beckstein), CSU is expected to fall back by more than 10 points. Sparing myself some writing, I quote from a diary posted as comment by nanne:

The dopey-looking xenophobe and tireless promoter of surveillance Gnther Beckstein looks like he might just pull off retaining the absolute majority of the CSU.

The latest poll has the CSU at 49%, which should be enough to scrape by without having to deal with the liberal FDP, who despite agreeing with a lot on the CSU, tend to marginally value privacy. Which would be uncomfortable for Beckstein. However, previous polls show some potential on the downside for the CSU. The range in which they have recently polled is between 47% and 50%.

In the previous election, Stoiber got them more than 60%.

The SPD is not capitalising on the decline of the CSU, it is polling only about 1% higher than its result in the last election. Which was the worst ever, at just under 20%. They'll need a shakeup after the election. It's incredible that Franz Maget is still their frontrunner after having led them through that disaster.

The Greens are polling slightly better, between 8 and 11 percent. In the last election, they got just under 8%. With a bit of luck, they should make it into the double digits. The FDP is winning more, passing the 5% hurdle after having polled less than 3% in the last election. They're now polling between 6 and 9 percent.

The Left party is on the brink of getting into the Landtag. It had been consistently polling at 4% in recent weeks, but gets over the 5% hurdle in the latest poll. The localist Freie Whler (free voters) group, meanwhile, should get in this time around, as they are polling between 5 and 8 percent.

So, what was the campaign about? At federal level, the CSU is loudly combatting the CDU over tax cuts and a reinstatement of subsidies for commuting [a mis-directed support scheme if there is one, I think]. But, it was with even more noise that the CSU turned into Crusaders - against the Left Party (for the reason see nanne above). Yet, that still wasn't the top campaign issue issue. As lacordaire reported from the ground:

2 pages yesterday in the local daily: will the wife of Beckstein (the Bavarian Premier) dress in "dirndl" (the traditionnal thing by the televised opening of Oktoberfest? She already said she wont...

And dont illude you: it is really important. As I was reading the article, a group of women sitting in the ar were speaking animately about it.

Politics is a funny job.

And indeed, Beckstein's wife (who is from Lower, e.g. Northern Bavaria) turned up in 'normal' dress.

Polls closed at 18h CET. The first estimates show an unexpectedly dramatic fall for the CSU, but the Left Party just below the 5% threshold. Current projections from public TV ARD's site:

2008 result2003 result
Partytotal vote shareseatstotal vote shareseats
CSU 43.39%9260.67%124
SPD 18.59%3819.63%41
Free Voters' Group10.24%214.01%-
Greens 9.41%197.74%15
FDP 7.98%162.57%-
Left Party 4.35%---
Republicans (far-right) 1.38%-2.24%-

You see the six overhang mandates: apart from one Munich district, all directly elected MPs are still from the CSU. Note that while everywhere in Germany, people have two votes (one for local election district representatives, one for party lists), as a speciality of Bavarian elections, the above percentages are for the sum of local representative and list votes (a measure favoring major parties).

Haider returns but is eclipsed

Austria was governed by a Grand Coalition of the Social Democrats (SP) and the conservative People's Party (VP). After a lot of friction and poll damage especially for the SP, SP chancellor Gusenbauer arranged for an orderly withdrawal and succession in the person of Werner Faymann, who achieved a turnaround in polls, blew up the coalition, and called new elections.

While the end result will in all likelihood be another Grand Coalition; some issues were:

  • The SP's new line on the EU, which is more democratic on the surface, but looks in every way like a sop to the Turkey-not-in-the-EU crowd and to a lesser extend Eurosceptics (for more, see Austrian Elections 2008: The Background by nanne, and Austrian Election 2008: A Supplemental by generic).

  • The return in force of the far-right. On one hand, the FP, a onetime liberal party which Jrg Harder used to turn far-right, is big again under new management: led by the younger, even more photogenous and even more toxic Heinz-Christian Strache (right). On the other hand, Haider, who wanted to kill his own party by leaving it and forming a new one (BZ), with little success in the last elections, is now back, too.

  • Minimum election age was lowered to 16 (see The Austrian Experiment.... by Metatone).

Polls closed at 18h. The depressing first results showed major gains for the two far-right formations (5% or major local success needed to enter parliament). With the count almost finished (follow it at public TV ORF's site) it doesn't look any better:

2008 result2006 result
Partytotal vote shareseatstotal vote shareseats
SP 29.71%5835.34%67
VP 25.61%5034.33%66
FP 18.01%3511.03%21
BZ 10.98%214.11%7
Greens 9.79%1911.04%21
LiF 1.91%-- (joint list with SP)1
FRITZ (party of a local populist) 1.76%---
KP (Communists) 0.77%-1.01%-

Sorry for not finishing before polls closed... I shall add last prior election results after I walked my dog (she's weeping loudly as I type).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 12:26:34 PM EST
Your poor dog!  Tell her it was worth the wait for your diary!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 12:31:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thank you to your dog, dodo! I just got back from work and only skimmed the story, will read it more carefully later on.

I still like the titel. :-)

by Fran on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 12:54:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now with more detailed results and previous election results in tables. The count seems close to an end in Austria.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 01:59:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On Bavaria: anyone with final turnout figures?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 02:04:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Said to be abysmally low, US conditions.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 02:05:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I´ve heard is that final turnout was around 57%. Same as 2003. It must have piked up during the afternoon.
by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 03:26:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep - I just updated the diary, the final number is actually a percentage point higher than last time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 05:54:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the OT:


First results from the Austrian elections (it's a slaughterhouse!)

Österreichische Nationalratswahlen 2008

Auszählungsgrad 46.96% (17:28)


Pretty much none of the cities have reported yet, so the results might yet move up for the SPÖ. Haider's far-right BZÖ seems to be outperforming the polls. FPÖ about level with the polls, might yet drop. Not a good day for the conservative ÖVP, that much is already sure.

Update, at 71% counted (but Vienna has not yet reported anything):


Seems pretty sure now that the liberal LIF is not getting into the parliament. FRITZ is a localist party from Tirol, not worth elaborating upon as most of Tirol is already in and they are therefore not going to get into parliament either.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 12:48:25 PM EST
Now at 92.9%, parts of Wien and a few cities left to report:


I had expected the SPÖ, Greens and ÖVP to outperform polling, and the FPÖ and BZÖ to get slightly less (polling closed a week before the election). So far, only my expectation of the SPÖ is coming true. They might yet move towards 31%. The FPÖ is getting what it polled at last week, the BZÖ significantly more, the greens and ÖVP both slightly less.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 01:33:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that Austrian election rules allow for a local party to get in with a very good local showing (was enough for the BZÖ last time); though still not enough in FRITZ's case.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 02:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of weisswurst and dogs - I can never eat white sausage again after a sojourn in the Black Forest. There is an imprinted association with Scottish terriers that will never be erased from my mind.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 01:21:45 PM EST
Too bad, Weisswurst is wonderful!

Please don't elaborate on your terrier experience lest I won't be able to enjoy weisswurst either. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 02:13:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As always, SPIEGEL has an excellent photo gallery. Check out how Greens celebrate (second picture), how a below-20% SPD and a below-5%-limit Left party celebrates -- the CSU's loss... But I liked this photo of the Free Voters' joy most:

...and, of course, I can't stop myself from celebrating at the CSU's loss, too, by showing the long faces of the double leadership (Huber on the left, Beckstein on the right):

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

by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 02:12:08 PM EST
Love Huber & Beckstein.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 02:47:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny symbolic photo from derStandard, too:

This is the chancellor-to-be-in-all-likelyhood, SPÖ leader Faymann; and is deputy-chancellor-to-be-in-all-likelihood, ÖVP leader Wilhelm Molterer.

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

by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 06:04:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to pollster Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, beyond the lower popularity of the current PM, the strongest problem voters saw seems to have been eucation.

Anyone in the know what local controversy might have been behind this?

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

by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 06:25:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most likely the rush to G8 (8 jaehriges Gymnasium).

West Germany used to have 13 years of combined primary school and 'high school'. East Germany had 12. After the unification increasingly in West Germany as well 12 years school were introduced. Often without changing the overall structure of schools, the concrete teaching or the amount of stuff pupils should now.

This has lead to a lot of stress for pupils, and often additional private lessons for pupils, who simply were overstrained.

In Bavaria this move came additional pretty suddenly and without consideration of teacher's opinions.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 06:40:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, that figures. There is also the following in a SPIEGEL op-ed by Conny Neumann:

CSU-Debakel: Ende des bayerischen Absolutismus - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Politik CSU debacle: End of the Bavarian absolutism - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - Politics
Bildungsmisere gab den Ausschlag Educational misery was the clincher
In ihrem Alleinvertretungsanspruch plante die CSU den milliardenschweren Transrapid, den außer ihrer Führungsspitze niemand wollte und erlitt eine Bauchlandung. Mit der gleichen Hochnäsigkeit entschied sie über eine dritte Startbahn am Münchner Flughafen. Es sieht so aus, als ob es auch dem geduldigen, bodenständigen Untertanen jetzt reicht.In its claim to exclusive agency the CSU planned the billions-heavy Transrapid [maglev; line to Munich's airport], which was wanted by no one except for their top leadership, and which suffered a belly landing. With the same snootiness they decided over a third runway at Munich airport. It looks as if now even the patient, down-to-earth subjects have got enough.
Den meisten Unmut aber verursacht die Misere in den Schulen. Die CSU preist sich ohne Unterlass als Bildungssieger der Republik. Zwei Wochen vor der Wahl, als die Bayern aus den Ferien kamen und zusammen mit dem Schulbeginn der Wahlkampf so richtig Fahrt aufnehmen sollte, zeigte sich den Eltern, Kindern und Pädagogen, dass im reichen Freistaat noch immer die Klassen viel zu groß sind, dass überall Lehrkräfte fehlen, Unmengen Stunden ausfallen, dass auf dem flachen Land Dutzende Schulen geschlossen werden, dass die Mittagsbetreuung noch immer improvisiert ist, dass die Ganztagsschule, die berufstätige Eltern dringend brauchen, noch die Ausnahme ist. But what caused most displeasure was the misery at the schools. The CSU extols itself without intermission as the education winner of the [German] republic. Two weeks before the election, when Bavarians were returning from the holidays, and the campaign was to get into full stride simultaneously with the sstart of school; it transpired to parents, children and educators that the classes are still much too large, that there is a lack of teachers everywhere, that vast amounts of classes are cancelled, that dozens of schools are closed on the lowlands, that daycare is still improvised, that all-day schooling, something working parents need badly, is still the exception in the Free State.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 06:10:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting element of the Bavarian elections is the angle of Presidential politics. On the 23rd of May 2009, Germany will elect a new president.

The presidency of Germany is completely unlike that of the USA, or France. It's mostly a symbolic post. But it does carry - symbolic - importance. Germany's presidents have delivered some of the most important political speeches in German post-war history.

There is no direct vote for the President; they are elected by the 'Bundesversammlung', which is constituted by the parliamentarians in the Bundestag and representatives from (or people picked by) the local state parliaments.

The hypothetical composition of this body on the 23rd of May is, then, of great interest. The election will once again be a contest between Gesine Schwan and Horst Köhler. Last time, Köhler got a 1-vote majority.

And as DoDo wrote a few months ago:

European Tribune - Challenging a President

Something the CDU/CSU does, too. They are very angry [...] the situation is that the President will be chosen next year, but after the Bavaria state elections in a few months, the CDU+CSU+FDP majority behind Köhler will likely end.

However, the lacklustre performance of the SPD means that this will only happen if the Left Party gets into the Landtag. See the projections on wahlrecht.de. Currently, ARD is projecting that they will get 4,4%; ZDF 4.8%. Exciting!


by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 02:17:09 PM EST
No luck: unless a much higher percentage of letter votes was for the Left Party, they are below the threshold...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 05:57:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that means Köhler will be the favourite in May. Still a few things that could happen, and it's a secret ballot, but defeating him looks difficult now.

In other, more minor news, there were local elections across Brandenburg today which resulted in the CDU on average losing over seven percentage points across the state, and the SPD and Linke both gaining. Results are not yet complete.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 06:44:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about the far-right? Read of any local successes?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 06:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They got into the Cottbus council, but just barely (there's a lower threshold - I think 3%). No big general successes that I know of. But it's too early.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 07:35:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, while Köhler has his majority, the Grand Coalition parties are losing their majority in the upper house (Bundesrat). And the FDP, the CSU's likely Bavarian coalition partner, is threatening to block Grand Coalition legislation (which they could do if they do get into the government).

At the same time, the Bavarian SPD is at least doing as if they think there is some chance of a coalition without the CSU (E.g. SPD+Greens+FDP+Free Voters).

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

by DoDo on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 06:46:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who are the 'Free Voters' and what do they want?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:22:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Basically, a state-wide association of independents.  You can run in German elections without being a party -- being a civic initiative is enough, and if enough of these allies themselves across several election districts, they can run a 'party' list, too. There are local Free Voters' groups at several places, and they had some successes in local elections, but this is the first time they made it in a regional (state) election.

For more, see discussion in yesterday's OT.

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

by DoDo on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:46:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This diary is about the Austrian extreme right making a comeback, and the Bavarian entrenched very conservative right getting a poke in the eye.

All well and good, but what about the sausage?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 02:49:53 PM EST
As nanne said: it's a slaughterhouse!!!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 28th, 2008 at 05:58:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One way or another, yes! Weisswurst in Bavaria, black pudding in Austria.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 01:14:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You see the six overhang mandates: apart from one Munich district, all directly elected MPs are still from the CSU.

Sparing myself the effort to look through all the results, from SPIEGEL's roundup:

  • Dingolfing: neolib party boss Erwin Huber was re-elected with 47% -- that's 20.5 points less than in 2003!

  • Nuremburg-Nord: PM Günther Beckstein re-elected with the second-worst CSU result in the city, 40.0%! (10.7 points less than last time).

  • Also Nuremburg-Nord: Gabriele Pauli was a prominent liberal member of the CSU, who was spied on by the party leadership, the exposure of which led to Stoiber's fall (see Stoiber goes). After some actions outraging conservative voters she failed to win support and was sidelined during the power re-shuffle -- then she left the CSU and joined the Free Voters. She ran against Beckstein, getting 7.3%.

  • Munich-Milbratshofen: SPD boss Franz Magat got to run for the seat with the best chances for the SPD, won with 39.9%. In 2003, he lost at 42.3% to 40.1% to a CSU rep.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 02:18:37 AM EST
Huber and Beckstein refuse to resign. But there are open demands in the CDU for the resignation of the party secretary (Christine Haderthauer), and Huber seems under serious threat.

This is interesting: the end result may be that Huber will be succeeded by the man he defeated in the recent leadership election, the federal agrarian minister Horst Seehofer. That would mean the replacement of an economic liberal with the most prominent representative of the party's social wing.

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

by DoDo on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 06:40:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL has an article on the blame game in direction CDU. The essence is the conservative view ofd the Grand Coalition, which was voiced before on ET by Martin; but here in the words of a more pro-business guy:

Der Vorsitzende der CSU-Mittelstandsunion, Hans Michelbach, warnte seine Partei vor einer Personaldiskussion. Es gehe jetzt um Inhalte, sagte Michelbach der Nachrichtenagentur ddp. Wie Wulff machte auch er zugleich die Schwesterpartei CDU und die Politik der Großen Koalition in Berlin für die Verluste der CSU verantwortlich.The chairman of the CSU Small Business Union, Hans Michelbach, warned his party against a personal discussion. What counts now is content, Michelbach told news agency Reuters. Like Wulff, in the same go, he also made the sister party CDU and the politics of the Grand Coalition in Berlin responsiblefor the losses of the CSU.
"Was während des Wahlkampfes aus Berlin kam, war alles andere als Rückenwind für uns. Die fortschreitende Sozialdemokratisierung der CDU bringt die Union um ihre Glaubwürdigkeit", sagt er. "Die Hochsteuerpolitik und die Erbschaftsteuer treiben den Mittelstand weg von der Union." Notwendig sei ein "deutlicher Richtungswechsel" auf Bundesebene."What came from Berlin during the election campaign, was anything but a tailwind for us. The progressive social-democratization of the CDU is eroding the credibility of the Union [ = CDU+CSU]," he says. "The high tax policy and the inheritance tax drive the middle class away from the Union." Needed was a "significant change of direction" at the federal level.

Now, who is using the chance to score one against Merkel, in the most subtle of ways? Right, the man speculated to be her current heir-to-be, the smoothest operator among the heavy-hitters of the Andenpakt power alliance, Lower Saxony PM Christian Wulff, now with the title of the (same) SPIEGEL article:

Bayern-Wahl: Wulff gibt CDU Mitschuld am CSU-Fiasko - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Politik Bavarian elections: Wulff gives part of the blame for the CSU's fiasco to the CDU
Berlin/München - Wulff schiebt der CDU einen großen Teil der Schuld für das Wahldebakel der CSU zu. "Teilweise liegen die Verluste der CSU zu Gunsten der FDP, der Freien Wähler und der Nichtwähler sicher auch darin begründet, dass die Große Koalition im Bund über alles einen so großen Schirm aufgespannt hat", sagte der niedersächsische Ministerpräsident der "Leipziger Volkszeitung".Berlin /Munich - Wulff is shifting a large part of the blame for the election debacle of the CSU to the CDU. "Partly, the loss of the CSU to the benefit of the FDP, the Free Voters and nonvoters was certainly also grounded in the fact that the Grand Coalition in the federal government stretched such a large screen over everything," the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony told the Leipziger Volkszeitung.
..."Offenbar verlieren die Volksparteien an Bindekraft. Das liegt auch daran, dass man über große Fragen nicht mehr richtig streitet, weil man in der Großen Koalition zusammenarbeitet. Deshalb muss jenseits der Großen Koalition das Gewicht der Parteien gestärkt werden."... "It seems the popular parties are losing binding force. This is also because we no longer have a serious argument over big issues, because we work together in the Grand Coalition. Therefore, the weight of the parties has to be strengthened beyond the Grand Coalition."

That is: Merkel's government doesn't allow the CDU to show edge.

In diesem Zusammenhang erneuerte Wulff seine Aufforderung an die Bundes-CDU, alle wichtigen und guten Kräfte zusammenzubinden und auch einzusetzen. "Wir brauchen in der Union eine große Bandbreite, auch personell, und ein überzeugendes visionäres Bild für die Zukunft." In this context Wulff renewed his call on the federal CDU to include all important and good forces and also to use them. "We need a wide range in the Union, also in personal, and a convincing vision for the future."

I can't read this any other way than pressuring Merkel to allow more leeway to her intra-party rivals (speak, the Andenpakt).

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

by DoDo on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 06:35:27 AM EST
German Conservatives in Trouble: A Political Monopoly Ends in Bavaria - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
GERMAN CONSERVATIVES IN TROUBLE A Political Monopoly Ends in Bavaria

The conservative Christian Social Union turned in its worst election result since 1954 in Bavarian state elections on Sunday. The ballot box collapse brings a decades-long political monopoly to an end -- and may call Chancellor Angela Merkel's re-election into question.

In the run up to Sunday's state parliamentary elections in Bavaria, it was clear that the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the party which has dominated the state's political leadership almost since World War II, was in trouble. Nobody, though, expected the result to be quite as bad as it turned out.

by Fran on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:01:52 PM EST
Austria Election Results: Far Right Benefits from Voter Dissatisfaction - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The voters have spoken in Austria, and for the first time neither of the country's two largest parties managed to attract more than 30 percent of voters. It was the far-right parties that benefited from the electorate's frustration with the grand coalition's political shennanigans.

He does what he does best: beam. Werner Faymann raises his head and gazes out into the crowd. In the tent full of Social Democrats set up just a few meters from the Burg Theater, the applause is deafening. The loudspeaker is blaring "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow" as the head of Austria's Social Democratic SPÖ party mounts the podium and celebrates. Looking elegant in his dark suit and gray-blue tie, he glances around the room visibly touched. "We intend to build a government," he says, though his words are drowned out by the clapping.

by Fran on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:02:37 PM EST
While the combined 29% for the two far-right parties is a new record, it is not that much higher than what the still Haider-led FPÖ got in the infamous 1999 elections: 26.91%. In the same comparison with nine years ago, ther SPD fell 'only' by 3.5%, most of which seems to have moved to the Greens.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:10:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Today's Libération's piece on the Austrian election made it appear that the eurpseptic move of the SPÖ made it as "populist" as the far right parties, and little better. Bleh. Parties that don't toe to the neoliberal Europe party line are now deemed as bad as any random fascist party.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misres
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:19:02 PM EST

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