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German Elections 2013

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#61 BansheeOne

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 0418 AM

We are about to come out of the Easter break, where nothing much happened over the last two weeks. There was a slight dent in the Conservatives' poll numbers for no apparent reason; my personal interpretation is that the Social Democrats are immediately doing better once their candidate shuts up. Steinbrück has in fact become a lot quieter and more cautious in his statements over the last months; the conservative press tried to make some hay from his remarks on joint European defense which could be construed as advocating the abolition of the German Navy, and currently a suggestion that schools should allow gender-segregated sports classes to acommodate Muslim sensibilities, but that's a far cry from the monumental bloopers he committed earlier.

 

By now, things are pretty much back to normal with CDU/CSU at 39-41, SPD 24-27, Greens 14-15, Liberals 4-5, Left 7-8. A poll of yesterday showed that Merkel leads Steinbrück by a whooping 35 points in a hypothetical direct runoff, 60 to 25 percent; even 34 percent of SPD sympathizers consider her to be the better chancellor!

 

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The SPD's unchanged main problem remains they can't challenge Merkel's popular course in the Euro crisis which blots out anything else, including their supposed main theme of "social justice" (i. e., redistribution of wealth). A rather astute recent commentary stated that under Merkel, CDU/CSU have successfully co-opted almost any topic the left camp has come up with and either made it their own, presented a "light" variant or at least pretended to do something about it, leaving the SPD only tax rises (which is actually rather popular because obviously most people always think it will only refer to those who make more money them themselves) and homosexual marriage (which is a niche issue a vast majority doesn't care about) to promote as their own.

 

Steinbrück's last headlines were that French president Hollande invited him to the Elysée Palace in an apparent payback for Merkel's open support of his predecessor Sarkozy during the last French presidential campaign. I think that's okay, she meddled in French affairs by supporting the losing candidate, so he can meddle back in German affairs by doing the same ... it's not going to do Steinbrück much good anyway, since Hollande is largely seen as a failure one year into his term both at home and abroad due to a dismal economic development; or, as comments on the internet go, "loser meets loser". In fact the Conservatives will be once again be able to point out Steinbrück stands for greater financial support to less successful European partners and less austerity, like Hollande does, too.


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#62 BansheeOne

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 0750 AM

The SPD had its program convention on the weekend. Peer Steinbrück held a fiery and engaging speech one would expect from in a candidate who has not made any progress - or rather the opposite - on the campaign trail since his nomination, starting off with "I want to become chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany" to long applause and attacking the government for various shortcomings. The party hopes the event will serve as a turning point for catching up with Merkel. Again.

 

The mix of bad luck and incompetence didn't quite leave them though, as it turned out their campaign slogan of "The We Decides" is already used by, of all things, a temporary employment agency - not exactly an economic area close to Social Democratic values. Of course at this point we are seeing a media pile-on; the mob has detected a possible victim, and in timeless non-partisan fashion little things that would have otherwise gone unreported are jazzed up for effect.

 

After a couple days of coverage and initially stating that their tagline was not copyrighted and the SPD could therefore use it, the company in question magically changed their mind into considering legal action because "being connected to the party was detrimental to their reputation". It didn't help either that when Steinbrück was asked on TV whether somebody shouldn't just have googled the slogan, he snapped "shoulda, coulda, woulda" true to form.

 

Another convention on the weekend saw the official founding of a new party, the Euro-sceptic "Alternative for Germany". Their personnel seems mostly made up of academics, lawyers and economists, their chairman being a professor of economics I found not too charismatic from his televised speech; many were formerly members of the currently ruling coalition parties. They are currently pretty much a single-issue party with the central demand that Germany should quit the Euro, though there are some flowers about more popular votes and similiar.

 

Their leadership optimistically expect to enter the Bundestag in September, possibly with a double-digit result. Pollsters see neither, though apparently 25 percent of voters could "imagine" to give them their vote. However, in the current dead heat of the race, even a miniscule share could take away decisive points from the Conservatives and Liberals, just as two recent polls see the current coalition in reach of a majority for the first time in two years with CDU/CSU 41-42, SPD 26-27, Greens 14-15, Liberals 4-5 and Left 6-8.

 

There have been noises about new "real conservative" parties for some time as the CDU has embraced about every topic of the day under Merkel, but none have taken off so far. The AFD is taken somewhat seriously because of their respectable founding personalities, unlike earlier examples which tended to be on the kooky side. Their impact remains to be seen; the Bundestag will decide on the Cyprus aid this week, so a background for them to make a mark in public debate is provided.

 

The trumped-up topic of the week however seems to be affirmative action for women. This is not strictly a partisan issue as CDU Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen is in favor of a legal requirement for big companies to have a fixed female minimum quota on their boards, while her younger colleague Kristina Schröder from the family and women's affairs ministry of the same party merely wants them to set quotas for themselves, as adopted by a party congress; many female conservative MPs are for some kind of regulation while the Liberals are overwhelmingly against any.

 

The opposition has launched a law proposal for a fixed 40 percent minimum quota over the Bundesrat, the chamber of states, which will be voted upon in the Bundestag on Thursday. In the absence of a definitive proposal of their own, the coalition would usually vote no, but the opposition has basically called upon conservative women to rebel against their leadership, promising a reduced 30 percent quota which many of the possible defectors supported in a trans-partisan declaration in December 2011.

 

The coalition leadership is nervous enough to have announced stern talks with MPs considered unreliable (including a couple men). One proponent, CDU/CSU parliamentary spokeswoman for family and women's affairs Dorothee Bär has already announced she will have other urgent business on the day of the vote. Minister von der Leyen is keenly expected to declare herself shortly.


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#63 BansheeOne

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 0823 AM

22 September. There is no "hot" campaign yet with market-place speeches, posters and TV ads; this will start after the summer break. But as usual it's hard to declare a clear beginning. Basically things started when the SPD nominated Steinbrück as their candidate on 1 October - which took too much dithering according to some experts, but was really ahead of the party's schedule, forced by the only credible competitor declaring internally he wouldn't run.


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#64 Mike Steele

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 0837 AM

When do you guys actually vote? It seems like this campaign has been going on for ages. :blink:

 

There trying the US model, the one of constant 24/7/365 campaign Obamastyle.


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#65 RETAC21

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 0852 AM

The trumped-up topic of the week however seems to be affirmative action for women. This is not strictly a partisan issue as CDU Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen is in favor of a legal requirement for big companies to have a fixed female minimum quota on their boards, while her younger colleague Kristina Schröder from the family and women's affairs ministry of the same party merely wants them to set quotas for themselves, as adopted by a party congress; many female conservative MPs are for some kind of regulation while the Liberals are overwhelmingly against any.

 

Bad ideas are always bi-partisan, I see.... ;)


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#66 BansheeOne

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 0755 AM

The women's revolt was called off after the CDU/CSU leadership's offer to enter a 30 percent quota from 2020 as a plank into the campaign program. The Greens even introduced a motion demanding the exact same into the debate, hoping to still win enough votes from the government coalition; but the lines held firm, generating much cries of "gender treason" from the opposition. OTOH, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen may have used up all her political capital by her threat to vote with the opposition, leading to predictable hostiliy in the Conservative group.

 

Some say she has been carefully sharpening her public profile to eventually succeed Chancellor Merkel - there was a recent book by the editor-in-chief of conservative tabloid "Bild" claiming that Merkel would resign in the middle of the next term to secure transition of power for the party, not an unusual move in the German states. However, that's pretty obvious bullshit for anybody who knows Merkel; while she is known to have stated privately she isn't going to be carried out of office like her CDU predecessor Helmut Kohl, she immediately denied this. But I would be surprised if von der Leyen is even still a minister after the election, no matter what the result.

 

Three polls taken after the Social Democrats' convention a week ago show absolutely no upswing for them; the new Euro-sceptic Alternative for Germany is actually given 3-4 percent. However, while they are cutting into the conservative electorate, they also seem to gobble up much of the usual protest vote which previously went to the Pirates - or the Left, which is the only party to have voted straight against Euro aids in the Bundestag, though for entirely different ideological reasons, namely saving banks from capitalist adventures with the money of the poor downtrodden masses while foisting German austerity on the needy southern nations. Current numbers are CDU/CSU 39-41, SPD 26-27, Greens 14, FDP 4-5, Left 6-8.

 

A general word on pollsters. The most acknowledged ones are those of the two national public TV channels, Infratest Dimap for ARD and Forschungsgruppe Wahlen (Research Group Elections) for ZDF. The latter is considered the most conservative - not politically but methodically, quite adverse to believe in big or quick changes.

 

On the other end of the spectrum would be Forsa, which used to be the SPD's home pollster - until their boss Manfred Güllner had some sort of falling-out with them. Since then, the Social Democrats have somehow been scoring about 3-5 points less in Forsa polls than others, with the balance spread around other parties in quite big weekly jumps. Güllner is commonly joked about in politics to throw his dice every Tuesday, but it's quite a successful business model as Forsa's differing results get quoted frequently in the media.

 

The rest of the big pollsters - Allensbach, Emnid, GMS and newcomer INSA - are somewhere in between. Allensbach pioneered polling in Germany, but are doing only monthly polls and seem to have a slight bias favoring the Liberals, though late founder Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann was often considered to be close to the CDU. Allensbach numbers still appear to include a bit of her emphasis on intuition, but in this fast-paced day and age, they have fallen a little by the wayside.


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#67 Dave Clark

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 1054 AM

[. . .]

 

Some say she has been carefully sharpening her public profile to eventually succeed Chancellor Merkel - there was a recent book by the editor-in-chief of conservative tabloid "Bild" claiming that Merkel would resign in the middle of the next term to secure transition of power for the party, not an unusual move in the German states. However, that's pretty obvious bullshit for anybody who knows Merkel; while she is known to have stated privately she isn't going to be carried out of office like her CDU predecessor Helmut Kohl, she immediately denied this. But I would be surprised if von der Leyen is even still a minister after the election, no matter what the result.

 

[. . .]

 

Yep, Merkel has a habit of chopping ministers legs off at the knee if they displease her! And the resignation story made me weep - with laughter.


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#68 Simon Tan

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 0812 AM

Obamastyle is so....2012. When the volume is constantly at 11, it becomes white noise. ooo.....that was rasis.


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#69 BansheeOne

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 0638 AM

The Greens decided on their campaign program last weekend, including unpredendented tax hikes over the strenuous objection of their "realist" wing centered around their only state minister president, Winfried Kretschmann of Baden-Württemberg who warned of the impact on the economy. The proposals include raising the rate in the top income bracket - which apparently starts at 60,000 Euro per year for the Greens - plus eventually doing away with the split for married couples, doubling the inheritence tax, raising the rate on capital gains, an additional wealth tax for millionaires and including income from capital and rents in calculation of health insurance fees.

 

It was met with a disastrous echo in media, though demoscopists maintain the Greens could actually win some votes with this against the background of a long-lasting public debate on just taxes and tax evasion that recently culminated in the case of Uli Hoeneß, former national soccer player and now president of Bayern München, who indicted himself for money stashed away in Switzerland. Getting at untaxed German money in Swiss banks (as well as other tax havens) has long been a bone of contention between both countries as well as between political camps in Germany, SPD candidate Steinbrück having notoriously compared the Swiss with indians who ought to be scared of "the Seventh Cavalry at Yuma" in his time as the finance minister of the Grand Coalition.

 

German states governed by SPD and Greens have repeatedly bought illegally leaked data about German customers of Swiss banks, which CDU/CSU and Liberals rejected as buying stolen goods with public money. The federal government negotiated an agreement with Switzerland instead which would allow German money to be taxed at a generic rate. The opposition declared that insufficient and blocked it in the chamber of states, so the issue remains unresolved and available to campaign with. Some on the left dream of instating a global tax obligation for German citizens on the US model, and point out that the American government put a lot more pressure on Switzerland to get a more favorable agreement to report on its citizens' Swiss money. Funnily they seem to be the same who else like to decry how the US throws its weight around with smaller nations.

 

Anyway, the problem of tax evasion is hardly solved by raising taxes even more. The Greens are confident their plans will be applauded by their own clientele which is mostly upper-income academics and public servants with a healthy dose of social guilt, but I doubt they will win more voters for the opposition camp overall; even the positive-minded pollsters cautioned that any gains they make might be at the expense of the SPD, which has a similiar but less radical program when it comes to taxes. The first poll taken after the Green convention surely points that way, with CDU/CSU at 40, SPD 26, Greens 15, FDP 4, Left 7 and the Euro-sceptic AFD at 3 percent.

 

Tax policy is surely emerging as the one topic which might be sufficiently controversial to exploit in the national election campaigns. We are trying to drive home the fact that the "rich" according to the Red-Green definition would actually include a lot of the higher middle class, employees in middle management, smaller entrepreneurs and self-employed, that it would be poison to the German economy which currently carries the EU, that internal revenue is already at an all-time high of 600 billion and we don't have an intake, but a spending problem - "with or without Uli Hoeneß", as I wrote into my boss' May Day speech.

 

The SPD surely tried to capitalize on Hoeneß' closeness to the Bavarian Conservatives, to the point where they wondered aloud what Bavarian tax authorities knew about his Swiss money when. It's not quite unkown for various CSU state governments to have been helpful to friendly VIPs about tax saving models in the particular Bavarian high society environment which made "amigo" a fixed term in German politics after former minister president Max Streibl had to resign over a corruption scandal in 1993. Conservatives however were quick to point out Hoeneß was one of the unofficial VIP "advisors" for SPD candidate Steinbrück in his time as finance minister, and supported the SPD candidate running as the next mayor of Munich.

 

The same Bavarian ambiente has thrown their state parliament into a current controversy about MPs hiring relatives for high-paid staff jobs; this was apparently completely legal until some years ago, with existing contracts grandfathered in when rules were tightened. CSU parliamentary whip Georg Schmid resigned last week over paying his wife up to 5,500 Euro net income per month over 23 years for not too-clearly-defined work, but again what started out as targeted on the Conservatives has by now spread to cases of SPD and Green MPs. The affair reached the Bundestag when somebody inquired about CSU member Dorothee Bär who married a former staffer; she says the contract was dissolved prior to the act, but regulations forbid employment of fiancés, too, and now people want to know when they got engaged ... sure enough, this week all Bundestag members got a request by national weekly magazine "Focus" from Munich to state whether they are employing any relatives.

 

The CSU doesn't really have much use for this affair ahead of the state elections in September, a week ahead of national polls; but as mentioned it seems to evolve in a nicely non-partisan way, and for now they can hope to regain an absolute majority after the current conservative-liberal coalition, with last numbers being CSU 47-49, SPD 18-20, Greens 13-16, FDP 2-3 and the vaguely conservative Free Voters 8-9 percent. Things look much more problematic for the state government of Hesse which has called elections on the same day as the Bundestag's; the last numbers of CDU 36, SPD 33, Greens 16, FDP 5, Left 4 would lead to a new Red-Green government, further turning the majority in the chamber of states against the current federal government and making another Grand Coalition between CDU/CSU and SPD an even more likely choice for Merkel in the next Bundestag.


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#70 BansheeOne

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 1452 PM

For once it's not SPD candidate Steinbrück shooting the party in the foot, but national chairman Sigmar Gabriel, who today spoke out for a general 120 kph speed limit on autobahns. Which is about as much of a third rail in German politics as gun control in the US. Steinbrück promptly said he didn't agree, making the Social Democrats look once more like a bunch of uncoordinated yahoos. Where's that old Young Conservatives campaign sticker? Ah.

 

porsche2.jpg


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#71 Ivanhoe

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 1522 PM

Sounds like the German gov't needs to hire these guys to "claw back" some of those hidden assets;

 

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#72 Colin

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 1701 PM

Sounds better than our upcoming Provincial election between 2 parties that pretty much everyone hates, almost makes me want to vote for our lone Marxist-Leninist candidate. We used to have the Rhino party who offered up as a platform to change driving from right to left, but gradually. Buses and trucks the first year. People were so fed up, the Rhinos started getting quite a few votes and they quit as people were taking them seriously.   


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#73 Ssnake

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 0324 AM

IMO the AfD appears as the single most influential factor that could cost Merkel the chancellorship. The commies aside, there hasn't been a single party in the Bundestag opposing the Euro policies, the embodiment of Merkel's Alternativlosigkeit. At the same time a majority of Germans are highly skeptical about the whole Euro crisis and the politicians' and ECB's responses to it. Until now, there has hardly been an outlet for that anger. The AfD could gobble up just enough disenfranchised CDU and FDP voters (and also a few SPD centrists) to win seats in the Bundestag. If the Lower Saxony elections are of any indicative value, it's probably going to be very close to a stalemate, and the AfD could tip the balance against Merkel.

 

Needless to say, CDU and FDP would not talk about the AfD at all rather than openly campaigning against them in order to avoid drawing attention to their Euro crisis policy. We shall see if that strategy works, in the light of French socialists trying to change the European course towards more deficit spending at Germany's expense.

 

SPD and Greens are working really hard to support Merkel with their talk about tax hikes and speed limits. It's hard to imagine what else they could do to motivate voters to support the others.


Edited by Ssnake, 09 May 2013 - 0325 AM.

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#74 BansheeOne

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 0533 AM

The AfD is to the conservative-liberal camp what the Pirates were to the left camp - not quite enough potential to become a force of their own, but enough to suck away sufficient votes for a traditional coalition to be formed in parliament. They timed their run better than the Pirates who peaked early and now have little chance of entering the Bundestag with 2-4 percent in polls four months before the election, after their public shitstorms demonstrated why too much direct democracy and transparency is a Bad Idea™.

 

The AfD is in about the same range at 2-3, but may have some potential left to build upon; pollsters give them 17-25 percent of sympathetic voters, again similiar to the Pirates when they appeared on the national stage. Their main problem is that they have little in the way of popular personalities as far as I can see, their personnel consisting mostly of older academics, lawyers and some entrepreneurs; there is former German Industry Association president Hans-Olaf Henkel, but he seems to neither be in nor strive for a front-row seat. Their current trio of chairpersons is not too charismatic, and they don't work on the swarm principle like the Pirates.

 

I don't really see them entering the Bundestag in September at this point, their best shot at parliamentary representation being the defection of MPs disgruntled with their previous party like that FDP guy in the Hesse state assembly recently. Like the Pirates, they are pretty much a single-issue party, and will likely vanish again within a couple years like so many vaguely conservative alternative groups before them - STATT Partei, the Schill folks, etc., the exception being the Free Voters in Bavaria who seem to have established themselves somewhat reliably in the state parliament.

 

However, they might very well influence the national outcome in September; the Free Voters cost the CDU decisive votes in Lower Saxony too, despite only scoring about one percent. The AfD is certainly a threat to CDU/CSU and FDP as well as the Left with the latter's half-populist, half-ideological opposition to Euro aids, and to a lesser extent to the SPD; and they are taken serious by all established parties though not giving them publicity is currently the best strategy.

 

Here's the deal: CDU/CSU will remain the strongest group in the next Bundestag, even though they are somewhat down from their recent seven-year high in polls at currently 37-40 percent. A putative Red-Green coalition will probably be slightly stronger together, currently at 39-42. The Left will be definitely in by way of their safe East German districts even if not jumping the five-percent hurdle, but are currently at 6-8 anyway. They will not enter into a threesome with SPD and Greens, mostly because of their lunatic foreign policy ideas.

 

That much is virtually certain, giving no camp a majority of their own and making a Grand Coalition between CDU/CSU and SPD under Merkel, but without Steinbrück the most likely outcome. Now come the variables - FDP, Pirates, AfD. I'm pretty sure the Liberals will make it back into the Bundestag, but even so the potential for the current CDU/CSU-FDP coalition tops out at about 42-48, not far ahead of Red-Green. If no other party enters, they would need at least 44; quite possible if Pirates, AfD and various other small groups lock up 10-12 between them and none of them make five individually.

 

However, 44 is not out of reach for Red-Green either, and if the Liberals don't make it, adding as much as another four points to the unsuccessful group, that threshold possibly descends to 42 - which CDU/CSU might reach by themselves, but is at the upper end of their range, particularly if the AfD take away crucial votes from them. So yes, Merkel's reelection is not safe yet. Of course anybody who votes AfD because Merkel's Euro politics are too liberal for them might end up with a Red-Green government which really turns up the faucets for Euro aids and joint bonds; but protest voters rarely think strategically, so it might happen.


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#75 Ssnake

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 0933 AM

The problem I have with that "think strategically" argument is that Merkel has so far crossed pretty much every line that she drew in the sand during the Euro crisis. She made so many concessions, and the entire Bundestag with her, that I simply don't see her change course. There is no other serious party that opposes this course. It's not a question of "it could be worse" - the goddamn plane has already crashed into the mountain.

 

As a thinking man and economist, there's just no way how I could possibly give Merkel (or any of her supporters) my vote. The FDP is Merkel's poodle anyway and has made clear that they will support anything that sails under the flag of "Europe - Think of the children!"

 

Merkel's policy follows no discernible principle except opportunism. She's an excellent tactician with a talent of eliminating all opposition around her. Commendable for a politician, yes, but insufficient for a statesman. The only area where she doesn't act completely opportunistic is when it comes to the financial crisis, and here she's steering a course that will prove disastrous in the long run. All the yapping about austerity is just some bizarre Kabuki show to distract from the fact that all the regulations so far have so many loopholes at Germany's disadvantage. And if the history of the European Union teaches anything, it is that these loopholes will be exploited to the widest extent possible.

The success of her entire campaign hinges on the gamble that no new major financial disaster will surface until September so we can pretend that everything's just fine. But the Magma below is hot as ever and the volcano can blow any time.


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#76 Mike Steele

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 0949 AM

The problem I have with that "think strategically" argument is that Merkel has so far crossed pretty much every line that she drew in the sand during the Euro crisis. She made so many concessions, and the entire Bundestag with her, that I simply don't see her change course. There is no other serious party that opposes this course. It's not a question of "it could be worse" - the goddamn plane has already crashed into the mountain.

 

As a thinking man and economist, there's just no way how I could possibly give Merkel (or any of her supporters) my vote. The FDP is Merkel's poodle anyway and has made clear that they will support anything that sails under the flag of "Europe - Think of the children!"

 

Merkel's policy follows no discernible principle except opportunism. She's an excellent tactician with a talent of eliminating all opposition around her. Commendable for a politician, yes, but insufficient for a statesman. The only area where she doesn't act completely opportunistic is when it comes to the financial crisis, and here she's steering a course that will prove disastrous in the long run. All the yapping about austerity is just some bizarre Kabuki show to distract from the fact that all the regulations so far have so many loopholes at Germany's disadvantage. And if the history of the European Union teaches anything, it is that these loopholes will be exploited to the widest extent possible.

The success of her entire campaign hinges on the gamble that no new major financial disaster will surface until September so we can pretend that everything's just fine. But the Magma below is hot as ever and the volcano can blow any time.

 

Sounds familiar somehow, yet I cant quite place it..... :unsure:


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#77 BansheeOne

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 1205 PM

Today it turned out his campaign manager Heiko Geue had himself put on leave from his post as a Saxony-Anhalt state secretary of finances by a colleague rather than quitting; according to a report by the state parliament adminstration, as a civil officer he should have only been allowed to go on leave if the public interest was greater than the requirements of his service, which they denied; as it is, a new state secretary was named, but Geue can always return into the state's service or retire on the state's cost. We will see how much traction that gets. Anyway, it's telling that the SPD recently announced they would put more effort into coordinating Steinbrück's campaign ...

 

The Steinbrück campaign defused this possible bomb some time ago by Geue quitting properly from his old job. But now he is being investigated for allegedly using his official car privately. This was actually legal for tours within the state of Saxony-Anhalt, but an anonymous charge from a purported former staffer at the state ministry of finances laid via a law firm accuses him of having himself driven between his place of work and his Berlin residence. Supposedly he also pressured the responsible department about changing the rules, and quarreled with his driver about what reason of use to enter in the car log.

 

The SPD campaign naturally claims the charges are politically motivated bogus, and Geue has filed countercharges for spreading false statements. It's not the first time a political figure comes under fire for alleged improper use of official cars; two years ago the Brandenburg state minister of education resigned over a similiar affair, in 2009 four federal ministers got into hot waters for use of their cars on holidays, and probably most famously in 1991 Bundestag Speaker Rita Süssmuth was criticized because her husband had made use of the parliamentary motorpool.

 

Meanwhile, Steinbrück has presented the first members of his shadow cabinet, or "competence team" as it is usually called here because due to the usual coalition governments, parties rarely get to fill cabinet posts entirely by their own will. Current construction labor union leader Klaus Wiesehügel is slated to become labor minister, which raised a few eyebrows because he is an outspoken critic of the labor and welfare reforms that were enacted under the Red-Green government of Gerhard Schröder; he is obviously meant to bring the SPD's left wing on board.

 

The right wing is supposedly integrated by the nomination of former Lower Saxony State Minister for Science and Culture Thomas Opperman for the post of interior minister, currently chairman of the Bundestag's intelligence oversight committee. The indispensable outsider and young female face is Berlin Technical University design professor Gesche Joost, announced to be responsible for internet policy as an obvious defense against the Pirate Party.

 

National tabloid "Bild" speculated on possible further members of a Red-Green cabinet under Chancellor Steinbrück today:

 

- Green top candidate Jürgen Trittin as minister of finances, a target he has been striving for for some time;

 

- Thuringia State Minister of Economy Matthias Maching of the SPD for transport or energy;

 

- Former Hamburg State and City Senator of Science Krista Sager of the Greens for education;

 

- Brigitte Zypries of the SPD might reprise her former office as minister of justice under the Grand Coalition;

 

- another Grand Coalition retread might be Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the SPD as foreign minister;

 

- SPD parliamentary speaker for economy Hubertus Heil as minister of economy;

 

- Green co-candidate Katrin Göring-Eckardt as minister for development;

 

- SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach as health minister;

 

- former Green minister of agriculture in the Schröder government Renate Künast as environmental minister;

 

- Green party leader Cem Özdemir as minister for consumer protection;

 

- and former Grand Coalition foreign state minister Gernot Erler as defense minister. Of course he just got caught up in the excitement about MPs hiring close relatives as his partner works in his parliamentary district office.


Edited by BansheeOne, 14 May 2013 - 1332 PM.

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#78 Dave Clark

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 1229 PM

**SNIP**

The SPD campaign naturally claims the charges are politically motivated bogus, and Geue has filed countercharges for spreading false statements. It's not the first time a political figure comes under fire for alleged improper use of official cars; two years ago the Brandenburg state minister of education resigned over a similiar affair, in 2009 four federal ministers got into hot waters for use of their cars on holidays, and probably most famously in 1991 Bundestag Speaker Rita Süssmuth was criticized because her husband had made use of the parliamentary motorpool.

 

**SNIP**

 

- and former Grand Coalition foreign state minister as defense minister. Of course he just got caught up in the excitement about MPs hiring close relatives as his partner works in his parliamentary district office.

 

1. Does this include Ulla Schmidt - who managed to get her car stolen while she was using it in Spain?

 

2. Name please - and is this on-going in the Bundestag or is it overspill from the CSU Vetternwirtschaft affair in Bavaria


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#79 BansheeOne

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 1331 PM

Whoops - I was in haste to finish and clean forgot to type the name. It's Gernot Erler, and overspill from the Bavarian affair insofar as the press was keyed on to look for similiar cases, though he is from Baden-Württemberg; I mentioned earlier all Bundestag members promptly got an inquiry by "Focus" the week after the "scandal" broke. Will edit the previous post.

 

Yep, it was Ulla Schmidt who triggered the 2009 case. Again, the press started looking and found three other ministers from both coalition parties, though I believe in the end all were found to have stayed more or less within the rules; one was Ursula von der Leyen who is after all still in office.


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#80 Soren Ras

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 0330 AM

BansheeOne, may I just offer my appreciation and thanks for the fine work you do in keeping tabs on this subject for the benefit of those of us with an interest in the subject, but with too little time available to pursue it adequately.

 

Thanks.

 

--

Soren


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