Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 05:02:25 AM EST
The German state of Bavaria elects a new regional parliament on 28 September. And the campaign is heating up. The leader of the Christian Socialists (CSU), the CDU's sister which governed the state with absolute majority for half a century, called for a crusade in an interview ten days ago:
It seems anti-communist rhetoric still pulls in Bavaria - and seen necessary despite polls showing that, even while still losing a lot of votes, the CSU again looks set to retain absolute majority.
At any rate, this Sommertheater was continued with the reply from the Left Party:
|Hubers ''Kreuzzug''-Zitat - Bisky attackiert ''Hassprediger der CSU'' - Politik - sueddeutsche.de|| Huber's "crusade" quote - Bisky attacks the "hate-preachers of the CSU" - Politics - sueddeutsche.de |
|Linkspartei-Chef Lothar Bisky hat die "Kreuzzug"-Parolen der CSU gegen seine Partei heftig kritisiert. In der Leipziger Volkszeitung sprach er von den "Hasspredigern der CSU“, die "einen solchen Unsinn erzählen, den die nicht einmal selber glauben können".||Left Party [co-]leader Lothar Bisky criticised the "crusade" slogans of the CSU against his party strongly. In the Leipziger Volkszeitung, he spoke of the "hate-preachers of the CSU", who "talk such nonsense which not even thes themselves can believe."|
|Bisky verwies darauf, dass seine Partei mit der CDU im Osten bereits den einen oder anderen Landrat gemeinsam gewählt habe. "Das sollte die CSU bedenken, wenn sie jetzt ihre Kreuzritterrüstungen gegen die Linke anlegt. Vielleicht kommen sie dann, um die abtrünnigen CDU-Leute hinzurichten, die sich mit uns eingelassen haben."||Bisky pointed at the circumstance that his party has already elected one or another local councillor together with the CDU in the East. "The CSU should think about this when they don the crusader armours against the Left Party. Maybe they will then come to execute the breakaway CDU people who engaged themselves with us."|
But this Wednesday, Erwin Huber upped the ante:
|Gipfeltreffen: Was die Hubers zur Linken sagen - Politik - STERN.DE|| Summit: What the Hubers say about the Left Party - Politics - STERN.DE |
|CSU-Chef Erwin Huber setze die Wähler der Linkspartei mit den Anhängern rechtsextremistischer Parteien gleich: "Für mich haben Menschen, die etwa auf Rechtsextremisten wie NPD und DVU oder auch auf die Linke abfahren, einen Mangel an Verantwortung. Es ist nicht nur Aufgabe der herrschenden Politik, für bessere Verhältnisse zu sorgen; ich sehe die Verantwortung auch bei den Menschen."||CSU chief Erwin Huber equated the voters of the Left Party with the followers of far-right parties: "In my view, people who are say into the right-wing extremists such as NPD [de-facto neo-Nazi party] and DVU [hardcore far-right party] or also into the Left Party, display a lack of responsibility. It is not only the task of ruling politics to provide for better conditions; I also see responsibility on the side of the people."|
If Huber wants to equate these, he should point to examples of Left Party people hanging capitalists on lampposts or calling for the deportation of all brokers.
I don't like this talk at all. I know and am disgusted by the rhetoric of equating hard-left and far-right from two decades ago, when I was a foreigner in Germany in the Kohl era, at a time the Red Army Faction (known in English under the misnomer "Baader-Meinhof Gang") was fading away but skinheads and minor far-right parties were ever more active in attacking immigrants.
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The Bavarian campaign connects to events in other German states.
In Hessen, more than half a year after the elections, local SPD leader Andrea Ypsilanti seems on the verge of achieving her goal, an SPD-Greens miority government with Left Party outside support: the Hessen Left Party voted to support the constellation, and so did the Hessen SPD party basis yesterday.
These developments resurrected the strong criticisms towards the SPD from the right (and its own right wing), including Merkel in her first let's-help-the-CSU campaign speech in Bavaria. I should not keep undisclosed that in recent polls, a majority of Germans still reject Ypsilanti's move, and both the Hessen SPD and Ypsilanti suffered in polls after the months-long SPD tearing-itself-apart.
Meanwhile in the small state of Saarland (a coal-mining region which used to be contested by France, and which was a rock-solid SPD base until the recent takeover by the CDU), where elections will be held in one year, the latest poll showed the Left Party overtaking the SPD:
|CDU|| SPD|| Greens|| FDP [neolibs]||Left Party|| Others|
| 37 %|| 23 %|| 5 %|| 7 %|| 24 %||4 %|
Those are numbers like in East German states - and would force West German politicians to re-think relations with the Left Party much stronger than the Hessen situation. I note the Left Party gained from the Greens, too, pushing them down to the 5% limit - I hope not under.
The backstory is: Saarland was the base of current Left Party co-leader Oskar Lafontaine, when he was still in the SPD (he was party leader when Schröder became chancellor, with whom he couldn't get along and left). With the SPD losing to the CDU since 1999, a significant part of the base and voters went over to Red Oskar's new party.
In turning opinion poll results into actual votes, a problem might be Lafontaine himself. He seems to view himself as a great thinker, has a certain vanity and a tendency to rush into rhetorical exchanges without much thinking, all of which his opponents like to exploit. Say recently, comments about the union of the Soviet Zone Communist and Social Democrat parties after WWII.
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So, where is Germany heading, one year before federal elections? Who knows. The story of the SPD's slow-motion self-destruction was (temporarily?) interrupted by some 'good news': foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier overtook Merkel in opinion polls, Franz "locusts" Müntefering returned from political retirement to broad cheers from the media, and in the latest federal poll (the one by Infratest Dimap), there is slight improvement.