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

Regional Elections Germany

by Saturday Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 11:35:48 AM EST

It could have been a test of the new Merkel-administration: Three regional elections in Rheinland-Pfalz, Baden-Württemberg (both situated in the South-West) and Sachsen-Anhalt (in the East). The first elections since the orming of the coalition in Berlin.

It could have been if this coalition were not a grand coalition. The motto of all campaigns was: "Don't hurt me, I won't hurt you!" In Rheinland-Pfalz, the CDU ceased the election to the incumbent Kurt Beck (SPD), in Baden-Württemberg the SPD did the same for Günther Oettinger (CDU). Accordingly, no surprises here. Kurt Beck's SPD might even get the majority of mandates, enabling him to form a government without the FDP. Günther Oettinger will continue to lead a CDU-FDP coalition.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, the outcome is not clear at the moment. The incumbent Wolfgang Böhmer who has led a CDU-FDP government will remain in office, but it is not quite clear who will be his partner: CDU and FDP might have a sufficient majority, but this is still a question of margin of error. If CDU-FDP fails to get a majority, Böhmer will form a grand coalition.

Current prognoses (18.30):

.       CDU  SPD  FDP  GRE  LEF  
RL-P   32,0 46,5  8,0  5,0  2,5
BA-WÜ  45,0 25,0 10,5 12,0  3,0
SA-AN  37,0 21,0  7,0  3,5 24,5

Very low turnouts everywhere.

Read more... (1 comment, 231 words in story)

German Gollum: My Precious Foreign Policy

by Saturday Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:37:07 AM EST

Promoted by Colman

At the moment, I am wondering just who makes German foreign policy. Moreover, I wonder what German foreign policy actually is: Today the newspaper editorials celebrate Angela Merkel for continuing Schröder's Bush-criticism. At the same time, the TV program Panorama (part of the public TV channel ARD) and the Süddeutsche Zeitung uncover the secret collaboration of members of the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) with the US Army during the war in Iraq.

It is becoming clear now that the red-green government had a Janus face concerning the "war on terror": Critique on the top political level, but cooperation on the bureaucratic and intelligence level. I am wondering if this Janus face continues to exist.

Read more... (23 comments, 830 words in story)

Let's talk about football

by Saturday Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 12:10:30 PM EST

from the diaries. -- Jérôme

If you are interested in football, I do not have to remind you of today's evening's event. Today, in Leipzig the drawing for the 2006 championships will take place. The show will start at 20.15 MET, at least on German public channel ARD. If you do not want to watch Heidi Klum and Reinhold Beckmann, just tune in at 21.31. Then, the actual drawing will start. According to protocol, it will take 23 minutes.

(Update with the draw results by DoDo:)

Group A: Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, Ecuador

Group B: England, Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden

Group C: Argentine, Côte d'Ivoire, Serbia & Montenegro, The Netherlands

Group D: Mexico, Iran, Angola, Portugal

Group E: Italy, Ghana, USA, Czech Republic

Group F: Brazil, Croatia, Australia, Japan

Group G: France, Switzerland, South Korea, Togo

Group H: Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia

Read more... (177 comments, 347 words in story)

Condi with Merkel: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind?

by Saturday Tue Dec 6th, 2005 at 07:02:28 PM EST

Condoleeza Rice's visit to Berlin was much anticipated by us all here and by all people who want to know the facts behind the CIA "rendition" scandal. As far as I am concerned, I am glad to say: I am not disappointed. After her meeting with Rice, Merkel said that "the American administration has admitted this man has been erroneously taken." But after she left Berlin, Rice's staff members told a Reuters reporter that "we do not know what had crossed Merkel's mind" when she said that. Meaning: They accused Merkel of being either deaf or a liar. Nice start into the much-anticipated new US-German relationships, I would say.

This whole thing ain't over, as well as this diary. Click on read more and read more if you like!

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Torture, Deportation: What Did the German Government Know?

by Saturday Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 05:48:15 PM EST

from the diaries. We need answers! --Jérôme

In the last few weeks, many German Social Democratic politicians have severely criticised the deportation of terrorist-"suspects" by the CIA since Bush's "WOT" began. Last week, SPD foreign policy spokesman Gerd Weisskirchen demanded "a wholehearted clarification of facts" from Condoleeza Rice and stated that although the USA had a priviledged status in Germany, "this does not mean that they are not bound to international law or the German constitution." I absolutely agree with him, but ever since the CIA torture camp/deportation-scandal began, I also asked myself: What did the European governments which are now criticising the US know? - And especially: What did the Schröder government know?

Judging from the latest Washington Post article on the issue, Weisskirchen's fellow party member Otto Schily, then-Minister of the Interior, already had information about some details of CIA actions as early as May 2004.

More below the fold.

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Hello Angela Merkel

by Saturday Sun Nov 27th, 2005 at 03:24:16 AM EST

From the front page ~ whataboutbob

Today, the Bundestag elected Angela Merkel Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. She received 397 (or 61 % of the) votes. This means that 51 MPs from the grand coalition, most probably from the SPD, did not vote for her. But given the circumstances - a few weeks ago, a large part of the CDU faction denied SPD's Wolfgang Thierse their yes-vote for deputy parliamentary chair - this is an acceptable outcome. The missing votes can hardly be seen as an indication of long-term opposition against Merkel in the SPD faction. After the Müntefering-disaster, the SPD MPs will think twice before opposing any grand coalition decisions which have been made on the leadership level.

Merkel is the 34th chancellor of Germany, the 8th chancellor of the Federal Republic and the first woman to become German chancellor.

Consequently, we can not get around the question: Who is Angela Merkel? - I would like to present some biographical details.

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How safe is it to travel to France?

by Saturday Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 07:45:44 AM EST

Today, the Australien Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the German Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office) issued warnings for travellers bound for France.

The Australian warning says:

Civil Unrest/Political Tension

Violent riots, involving arson attacks on buildings and cars, and the use of missiles such as petrol bombs, are occurring in many areas of France, including in Paris and other major cities. Australians should monitor the media and other local information sources for information on where the riots are occurring and, if they need to visit or travel through affected areas, exercise a high degree of caution and avoid any demonstrations.

And here is the German warning:

Because of the ongoing commotion in the suburbs of French cities, we advise travellers to France to be especially cautious regarding these areas and to follow information from the media closely.

Already last Friday, the U.S. embassy in Paris warned U.S. citizens of demonstrations in the suburbs of the French capital and other French cities.

I would like to know from my fellow Eurotribbers from France: Is this overly cautious? Or are these warnings justified?

Comments >> (11 comments)

Light at the end of the tunnel: Federal Reform in Germany

by Saturday Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 04:27:22 AM EST

Latest update from Germany - from the front page ~ whataboutbob

In the past few days, everyone talked about Franz Müntefering's resignation as SPD chairman. I did, too. That is why I nearly missed one of the most important news in German politics for months (or maybe even years):

SPD and CDU/CSU have agreed on the most contentious points of federal reform. Federal reform will be the first big reform project of the coming grand coalition.

Read below the fold: Parts of an article from Tuesday's Spiegel Online (humbly translated into English).

Read more... (3 comments, 516 words in story)

Election Aftermath: SPD About to Implode?

by Saturday Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 11:00:50 AM EST

How can one pass up quotes from Goethe in political discourse?? From the front page ~ whataboutbob

In the midst of coalition-building negotiations between SPD and CDU, SPD chairman and designated vice chancellor Franz Müntefering has announced his resignation from party chair by mid-November. Today, Münteferings choice for party secretary, Kajo Wasserhövel, was defeated 23-14 in a vote against Andrea Nahles by the SPD executive council. Nahles, a new member of parliament but despite her young age already a seasoned politician, is a well-known figure of the SPD's left wing.

The following verses are taken from Goethes' "Sorcerer's Apprentice" ("Der Zauberlehrling"), and they fit the situation quite well:

See him, toward the shore he's racing
There, he's at the stream already,
Back like lightning he is chasing,
Pouring water fast and steady.
Once again he hastens!
How the water spills,
How the water basins
Brimming full he fills!

Stop now, hear me!
Ample measure
Of your treasure
We have gotten!
Ah, I see it, dear me, dear me.
Master's word I have forgotten!


Off they run, till wet and wetter
Hall and steps immersed are Iying.
What a flood that naught can fetter!
Lord and master, hear me crying! -
Ah, he comes excited.
Sir, my need is sore.
Spirits that I've cited
My commands ignore.

Wanna read the poem in German?

Why is Müntefering the sorcerer's apprentice?

- Read below the fold!

Read more... (15 comments, 1024 words in story)

Germany after the Elections: Why the Linke is good for democracy

by Saturday Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 03:15:41 PM EST

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

For quite a long time now, I have been planning to do a diary on an issue that has been widely underexposed since the Linke's amazing ascent this year. This is a diary about the new left, the old extreme right and (neo-)proletarian voter behaviour.

I contend:

The rise of the Linke has prevented a rise of extreme-right, neo-fascist parties, first of all the NPD, a rise which would have been inevitable without the Linke. The Linke served as a collecting pit for disenchanted poor and (neo-)proletarian voters who otherwise would have turned to the right as a means of protesting against a system that holds no place for them any more.

Read more... (10 comments, 998 words in story)

Countdown Germany: Day Zero

by Saturday Sun Sep 18th, 2005 at 09:35:13 AM EST

Joschka Fischer phrased it very nicely: "Today, politicians have to keep silent. It is the time for the voters to speak."  

Today, the 16th Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany is being elected. 62 Million eligible voters can decide. According to several media reports, voter turnout until noon was slightly higher than last time (in 2002, turnout was at 79%). In North Rhine Westphalia, turnout seems to be higher than in 2002 (might be good for SPD), while voting in Bavaria went comparatively slowly this morning (might be bad for CDU/CSU). Nonetheless, most pundits predict a narrow CDU/CSU-FDP win.

If today's results should be too close to call, the decision could be delayed until October 6 or 7 when the Dresden constituency (election district 160) votes. Voting there had to be postponed because of the death of a direct candidate.

Polling stations will close at 18.00 MEST. From that time on, prognoses and results will drop in. Here are some links:

  • The Federal Returning Officer: Official results from the election districts as they come in.

  • election.de: Really nice electoral maps (Java). I do not know how often they will be updated; just try!

  • Tagesschau: Here, public TV channel ARD provides an internet live stream of its election coverage.

The following links provide the most recent projections, as they are made public by the TV channels.

Comments >> (2 comments)

Countdown Germany: Day -0.5

by Saturday Sat Sep 17th, 2005 at 07:53:39 PM EST

In the last nights before elections, the news situation usually gets thin. Politicians do not want to stay up all night, to be prepared for the next, long day. As do the reporters. Whom I am dependent on, sitting here with my notebook in a flat in Berlin-Neukölln, election district 83 (with no one else around but a cat named Akira, poor poor me).

So, I guess I have to turn to the big picture.

  • The long-time table of German election results
  • German politics now: The times they are a-changin'

Read more... (20 comments, 1563 words in story)

POLL: German Elections

by Saturday Sat Sep 17th, 2005 at 03:47:12 PM EST

Before I am going to write my last "Countdown" entry, I just want to know what your expectations are for tomorrow's election results.

Read more... (4 comments, 26 words in story)

Countdown Germany: Day -1.5

by Saturday Sat Sep 17th, 2005 at 11:52:53 AM EST

The last day before German elections...what's going on there? - from the diaries ~ whataboutbob

In fact, it is not even two more days to go. Rather one and a half. But never mind. Yesterday, the last poll numbers were publicised, and today were the last big convention speeches. As far as I can see it, chances are looking good for a CDU/FDP coalition now. Read below:

  • The Polls
  • Final party conventions

Read more... (18 comments, 850 words in story)

German Elections: Recent Speculation

by Saturday Thu Sep 15th, 2005 at 06:31:39 AM EST

Coalitions, no majorities, more votes? This is getting intriguing! From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

This year, the frontiers of election and constitutional law are being pushed like never before. Today, the Leipziger Volkszeitung reported plans within the CDU to head directly for new elections again after the September 18 elections. The plan acknowledges the possibility that CDU/CSU and FDP will not have a majority, and neither will SPD/Greens. Which is probable indeed. FDP has consequently ruled out any cooparation with red/green, and Merkel has become ever clearer about not going into a grand coalition.

The new plan is supposed to evade a grand coalition. It is supposed to work as follows: After the election, the new Bundestag has to choose the chancellor. Given that Schröder will not be supported by the Left Party, there will be no absolute majority for any candidate in the first two ballots. But in the third ballot, relative majority will be sufficient. That means, given that CDU stays in first place (probable), Merkel will be elected. After that, the Federal President (Bundespräsident) has seven days to decide on the governability of the new coalition. If his evaluation of the situation is negative (assumable, since there will be neither a majority nor a toleration-scenario), he can dissolve the Bundestag and call new elections again.

What makes this so attractive for Merkel, is the chance that Schröder, ripped of his chancellorship, will not play a major role within SDP any more. In new elections without Schröder, she seems to see a better chance for winning the elections.

Which is, by the way, the biggest compliment ever for Schröder's campaigning qualities.

More to come today or tomorrow.

Comments >> (10 comments)

TONIGHT :: German Elections: Major Debate

by Saturday Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 02:36:28 PM EST

From what I can read in today's posts and comments, it seems that you also catched fire. If you know some German, maybe you will want to watch the last big televised debate tonight. All candidates resp. party leaders will meet for a debate on TV channel ARD: Gerhard Schröder (SPD), Angela Merkel (CDU), Edmund Stoiber (CSU), Joschka Fischer (Greens), Guido Westerwelle (FDP) and Gregor Gysi (Left/PDS). They will be journalistically accompanied by two regional ARD TV-chief editors, Wolfgang Kenntemich and Alois Theisen.

Here's the live feed.

Comments >> (6 comments)

Countdown Germany: Day -7 (2nd Edition)

by Saturday Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 05:12:15 AM EST

promoted by Jerome. I'll just add a link to the big FT article this morning, using the title in the paper edition: Christian Democrats sideline Kirchhof

As the campaigns are going into the last week, poll numbers are changing wildly and - mostly - in favour of the governing SPD. Distance between both big parties is shrinking, and suddenly the number of possible coaltion alternatives multiplies. I am expecting seven hot days to come.

  • What is a Zweitstimmenkampagne?
  • Kirchhof is on his way back to the ivory tower
  • Fun stuff: Your projections might win you a trip to the Reichstag

Hi DoDo, I see you also have a diary up. Putting this up as a diary, too, because it seems a bit too long to become a comment. Hope you don't mind.

Read more... (33 comments, 717 words in story)

Countdown Germany: Day -9

by Saturday Sat Sep 10th, 2005 at 06:06:13 AM EST

Excellent commentary and discussions, from the diaries ~ whataboutbob

So, now we are in the single digits. And finally - I already ceased believing it could happen - this election becomes a real thrill. Questions are now popping up about the readyness of "designated" conservative ministers to participate in a grand coalition. Because that is where the signs are pointing to. While I'm still not convinced whether such a CDU/CSU-SPD-coalition would be a good idea, many of my fellow citizens think that way. (Moreover, I would lose a bottle of Champagne because I betted against a grand coalition about two months ago)

  • "The Professor from Heidelberg": How a possibly good idea turned into Angela Merkel's nightmare
  • Schröder's legacy for the German left
  • The polls

Read more... (15 comments, 1082 words in story)

Countdown Germany: Day -10

by Saturday Thu Sep 8th, 2005 at 03:54:17 PM EST

I see Jerome has become unpatient and stepped in. Which I can totally understand. Sincere apopogies for being quiet so long! I'll try to do better during the "last" 10 days.

Waking of from political hibernation

Here we are, a few days after the "big debate", 10 days to go. And since last week-end, you can finally get the impression that there is an election going on in this country. I currently live in Berlin, and until last weekend, only some lonely posters (and, maybe, some lonely pollsters... uh, forgive me that groaner) gave witness of the coming election. Saturday evening, I was leaving the tube, heading for a barbecue in the Falkplatz, totally unprepared for a sudden manifestation of the election campaign: When I passed Schönhauser Allee, a man put a flyer into my hand, saying: "Here's a flyer from me."

  • Ok, thanks (I'm too polite. I never reject any flyers.)

Three steps later, I began wondering.
  • "From me?" What the heck does that mean?
  • Ok, that's a flyer of Green Party member-of-parliament Wolfgang Schulz.
  • Nice, I like him because he sued against the hardly constitutional procedure that caused this year's new elections.
  • Doesn't the man who gave me the flyer resemble Schulz slightly?

Of course it was him. Dealing out flyers on the street just the same moment his party member Joschka Fischer held a big speech in the "Arena" a few kilometers away. But since I was totally unprepared and in a hurry, I did not return to him. Although I really should have asked him some questions. Doh.

Premature elections are a bit like clock change in spring: The night has one hour less, and you just can not believe it is already 8 o'clock in the morning. You know that awful feeling, like being cheated out of sleeping time? - That is how the whole political public felt until last week-end: Just not ready to get up and make up your mind about whom to vote for. This was the case not only for voters, but also for politicians and the media: After integrating the lame camaigns into our political sleeps, like I usually integrate Monday morning's alarm clock signal into my dreams, we finally hit the snooze-button.

Read below the fold:

  • Day Zero will not be day zero

Read more... (5 comments, 661 words in story)

Countdown Germany: Day -29

by Saturday Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 11:08:32 AM EST

Sorry for not reporting last Thursday, came home rather late from work.

Now we have less than a month to go. Holidays in North Rhine Westphalia, the most populated of all regional states, will be over by beginning of next week, and I expect the campaigns to get some grip under their wheels by Monday.

  • Economist stirring up the economic debate
  • Learning from Bush: A flip-flop spot against Merkel
  • Kirchhof controversial?
  • New polls

Read more... (8 comments, 908 words in story)
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