Sat Oct 10th, 2009 at 08:36:13 AM EST
In Germany, the big loss of the Social Democrats (SPD) in the federal elections last month heralded the end of the centrist, third-wayist, Schröderite leadership. Or did it?
Four weeks earlier, there have been regional elections in three German states. In Thuringia state, the conservative CDU lost its absolute majority, opening the way for a tripartite left-wing coalition. Such a change would have been good for the federal SPD, because the second house of the German federal parliament, the Bundesrat, is composed of representatives of the 16 state governments. However, it didn't came to be.
The talks centered on the question of who shall be prime minister: the SPD insisted on giving the PM, even though it came third behind the CDU and the prospective main coalition partner, the Left Party. There seemed to be progress when first Thuringia's Left Party leader Bodo Ramelow, then his SPD counterpart Christoph Matschie gave up their personal power aspirations. However, last week, Matschie and the regional SPD leadership made a shocking declaration: the SPD was to start coalition talks with the CDU. Confronting an outraged party base, Matschie blamed the failure of negotiations on the Left Party's and Ramelow's rejection of an SPD PM.
However, now Ramelow had his revenge -- and exposed yet another display of incomprehensibly stupid centrist Social Democrat maneuvering.
promoted by nanne
Ramelow put the Left Party's protocols of the last day of coalition talks on-line. They show that Matschie lied: there was acceptance of an SPD prime minister; what was rejected was an extra demand, one transparently designed to be provocative. Worse: after the SPD insinuated that the Left Party's protocols are a falsification, its contents were confirmed by the third partner to the talks, the Greens.
First, for scale, the results of the Thuringian regional elections (diagram from German Wikipedia):
(Die Linke = Left Party, Grüne = Greens, Sonstige = Others.)
So now you see who's talking. And here is Matschie's version:
...and in contrast, here is the real Left Party position according to their protocol:
|"Es gibt kein Ausschlusskriterium in Sachen Parteibuch! Die Linke kann sich vorstellen, eine Person mit SPD-Parteibuch zu wählen, wenn sich alle drei Parteien gemeinsam auf eine solche Person verständigt haben."||"There is no exclusion criterion in terms of party card! The Left Party can imagine to elect a person with an SPD party card if all three parties together agree on such a person."|
Why the emphasis on the tripartite agreement on the person? Because of the real demand from the SPD that was unacceptable for the partners:
|Der SPD sei das aber nicht genug gewesen. Sie habe Grüne und Linke mehrfach dazu aufgefordert, einen Satz "zu unterschreiben"...||But that was not enough for the SPD. They repeatedly asked Greens and Leftists "to sign" a [certain] sentence ...|
|Im Linken-Protokoll heißt es, von Matschie sei "immer wieder die Frage gestellt" worden: "Seid ihr bereit, jetzt zu unterschreiben, dass wir die Koalition führen und Ihr einen SPD-MP wählt, den wir aussuchen?"||The Left Party's protocol says that Matschie "repeatedly asked the question: Are you ready to sign it now that we will lead the coalition and that you will elect an SPD-PM of our choice?"|
That is: the party that would have given only 18 of the 51 members of parliament in the prospective coalition wanted its overlordship declared in advance, and a blanket approval of any candidate they'd pick in advance. Really, who would have accepted such a demand?... And isn't it transparent in hindsight that this demand must have been intended to give Matschie an excuse to declare the negotiations failed?
As I see it, this is extremely stupid maneuvering -- and also all too typical of the way the leaders of the European centre-left are operating today. They hate their left flank more than the Right, go into coalitions and cooperations with the Right that destroy them, try to get the support of the base and voters with spin and intrigues, and are amateurish doing so; and just don't get why they fail. FAIL.
Matschie's attempt to insinuate a falsification or creative editing of the protocols on the Left Party's part also turned into an own goal. He forgot about the third party...
|...Der Inhalt ist - anders als bei vorherigen Sitzungen - nicht mit SPD und Grünen abgestimmt. Aus der SPD heißt es deshalb, es handle sich um ein "Scheindokument". Landeschef Christoph Matschie sagt: "Ich halte es für fragwürdig, im Nachhinein mit zurechtgeschusterten Protokollen die Wirklichkeit im eigenen Sinne umzudeuten."||...Unlike in previous meetings, the content was not harmonized with the SPD and Greens. Hence, in the SPD, they call it a "sham document". Regional boss Christoph Matschie says: "I think it is a questionable practice to retroactively reinterpret reality in their own terms with tailored protocols."|
|Doch auch die Grünen haben Protokoll geführt. Ein Auszug liegt sueddeutsche.de vor. Darin wird Ramelows Version der Geschichte bestätigt.||However, the Greens logged their own protocol. An excerpt is available to sueddeutsche.de. It confirms Ramelow's version of the story.|
|Die Grünen-Landesvorsitzende Astrid Rothe-Beinlich sagte zu sueddeutsche.de: "Die SPD schiebt den anderen Parteien den Schwarzen Peter zu. Herr Ramelow hat mehrfach gesagt, dass die Linke bereit sei, einen SPD-Politiker, einen Grünen-Politiker oder auch einen Parteilosen zum Ministerpräsidenten zu wählen."||The regional chairwoman of the Greens, Astrid Rothe-Beinlich, told sueddeutsche.de: "The SPD passes the buck to the other parties. [But] Mr. Ramelow said several times that the Left Party was ready to elect an SPD politician, a Green politician or a non-partisan as Prime Minister."|
Matschie also claimed that the sentence the SPD wanted signed by the Left Party and Greens was just that "The prime minister shall come from the SPD". But, again:
|...Ramelow ...habe sich an dem "Führungsprinzip" gestört: "Die Koalition wäre ja nicht von der SPD geführt worden, sondern von einer Person. Genau wie die Grünen wollten wir wissen, um welche Person es geht." Astrid Rothe-Beinlich bestätigt auch das - wieder stehen zwei Aussagen gegen eine.||...Ramelow ... was disturbed by the "leadership [Führer] principle": "After all, the coalition would not have been led by the SPD, but by one person. Just like the Greens we wanted to know which person this is all about." Astrid Rothe-Beinlich confirmed this, too - again, there are two testimonies against one.|
Two to one? Well, for that to be really the case, the SPD should have published its own protocols of the failed negotiations, too. But no...
|Auch Matschie hat ein SPD-eigenes Gesprächsprotokoll der entscheidenden Sitzung in der Schublade. Veröffentlichen will er es nicht. Es sei "verlogen", das ohne Abstimmung mit den anderen Parteien zu tun.||Matschie, too, has the SPD's own protocol of the talks of the decisive meeting in the drawer. [However,] he does not want to publish it. It would be "hypocritical" to do so without coordination with the other parties.|
Inside the Thuringia SPD, a mutiny is prepared by a group around Andreas Bausewein, the mayor of Erfurt, to stop the colaition with the CDU. Will it succeed? At this point, knowing the infinite resourcefulness of the SPD to undercut itself, I doubt anything good will come out of it.