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German Elections 2013

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#21 BansheeOne

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 1021 AM

The Free Democratic Party (FDP, classical liberals, pro-market with a somewhat atrophied civil rights wing, currently junior partner in government) fits that bill best. The Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU, Chancellor Merkel's party, center-right with a shrivelled conservative wing) at least pay lip service to less regulations and individual responsibility, though for every regulation they erase as being superfluous they seem to come up with an issue they think needs tighter regulation.

The Pirates had the makings of a good libertarian party with their basic thrust towards transparent government and keeping it out of private life, particularly the internet; but at the same time the for-free mentality of the internet generation made them anti-intellectual property and pro-unconditional government-paid basic income. As mentioned, their open participation structures also attracted weirdos of every sort to ride their pet issues in.
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#22 Chris Werb

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 0824 AM

It's Europe: all the parties are for keeping or increase govt. size!


Not necessarily:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...litics-11538534

When I was born the government ran aerospace, the railways, energy, steel etc. and local government had water - all long since privatised. I don't see the the current government wanting to expand its control into more areas.
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#23 Simon Tan

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 1026 AM

Britain is NOT Europe. You're a festering sore that spoils the party for the rest of the superstate.
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#24 BansheeOne

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 1117 AM

The major conventions are through; all Conservatives, Social Democrats and Greens held them in Hannover, ostensibly hoping for a boost in the Lower Saxony state elections to be held on 20 January, widely seen as a test for the national polls now agreed upon for the date of 22 September. SPD and Greens have particularly high hopes since all minor parties - Liberals, Left, Pirates - are currently projected to fail the five percent threshold in the Lower Saxony elections, and while the Conservatives lead Social Democrats about 40-32 percent in the state polls, the Greens make up the balance at 13. The only hopes for the CDU government to stay in power are achieving about a 43 percent majority in a three-party assembly, or at least one of the minor parties making the threshold. Neither is impossible, but my friends in Hannover have been quite tense for a while.

At the CDU convention, Chancellor Merkel was reelected national party chair with a positively Soviet 98 percent result; even the notoriously quarrelsome Bavarian CSU promised to be a "purring kitten" next year to achieve the joint aim of staying in government. We will see how much of that remains as the Bavarian state elections just a week before the national polls approach ...

The SPD officially confirmed Peer Steinbrück as their top candidate this weekend too, not staying far below Merkel's result at over 93 percent; Social Democrats certainly hope to have left Steinbrück's rocky start behind them now. Only three days before the convention, his trouble about lucrative speaking engagements caught up with him again when he cancelled his last one at a Swiss private bank at the last minute, and only after they became the target of a tax fraud investigation - particularly unfortunate for somebody who in his former job as federal finance ministers famously threatened to send the cavalry after the Swiss "indians" in the long-lasting quarrel about German tax evaders hiding money in Swiss banks. In his convention speech, he went to great lengths touching the topics dear to the party though not necessarily to himself, and reiterated he would not stand for another Grand Coalition under Merkel, making a Red-Green government his only personal option.

The Greens confirmed their gender-mainstreamed top duo of Jürgen Trittin and Katrin Göring-Eckardt several weeks ago already; they too stressed aiming for a Red-Green government, telling off all thoughts of a coalition with the Conservatives triggered by Göring-Eckardt's nomination (which would be highly experimental anyway). There was a minor stir about demands from the government parties that she suspend her office as a vice speaker of parliament for the campaign too - which she refused - but it doesn't seem to have caught on.

There is little motion in the polls at this point; the Conservatives retain their ca. ten point lead over the Social Democrats, with the Greens' ca. 15 and the Left's ca. seven percent still making a Grand Coalition the most likely outcome; the Pirates are going down in flames, only three percent in latest polls, while the Liberals remain just under the five percent threshold. However, the comparatively large portions of possible votes locked up by small parties mean a majority in parliament could be achieved at or even below 45 percent, which is not entirely out of reach for the SPD and Greens.
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#25 BansheeOne

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 1150 AM

Oh goody, just as the debate about the SPD candidate's extra income had subsided for the moment, he goes and says in a national sunday paper interview that the pay for the job of the chancellor he wants to win is too low.

Posted Image

His point that people in the economy wouldn't take a job with this responsibility for that kind of pay is valid, and his outspokeness once more is commendable for a politician, but there is a time and place for everything.

The end of the Christmas holidays marked the official start of the Lower Saxony state election campaign; street posters popped up overnight. Everbody is looking to Hannover for a signal how the election year is going to be. The latest polls were still done before the national conventions there and show little change; Social Democrats and Greens keep hoping with good reason that they will achieve a majority coalition in a three-party assembly despite the Conservatives' seven-point lead over the SPD, and thus get a boost for the national elections in September.

No decisive development in the national polls either; despite the Conservatives being at a five-year high following their convention, the situation is essentially unchanged with current numbers allowing only a Grand Coalition.
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#26 BansheeOne

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 0601 AM

Yesterday's Lower Saxony state elections turned into a veritable thriller as votes were counted. Under Germany's peculiar system which gives you two votes in national and most state elections - one for an individual candidate and one for a party list - about 100,000 conservative voters gave their second vote to the Liberals to make sure they would clear the five-percent threshold necessary to enter parliament, and thus maintain Minister President David McAllister's CDU/FDP powerbase.

They made so sure that the FDP, who had been hovering at the the three-percent mark in polls only weeks earlier, actually improved on their 8.5 percent result from five years ago to nearly ten percent, at the expense of the CDU dropping from 42.5 to 36 though still staying ahead of the Social Democrats at 33. Throughout the evening, the conservative-liberal and the red-green camp were neck-to-neck in projections, until the Social Democrats and Greens managed to eke out a 0.4 point lead and one-seat majority, giving them the tiniest base to replace McAllister; close, but others have done it before.

This will further reduce support for the conservative-liberal federal government in the Bundesrat, the second chamber of federal parliament made up of state representatives; it will also likely give the opposition a bit of a boost for their national campaign. They can need that too, because the Conservatives keep climbing slowly in the national polls while Social Democrats keep dropping in reprocity. CDU/CSU are now reported at 42-43 percent, their best showing for seven years, while the SPD ist at 23-28; even together with the Greens at 13-14, they are now weaker than the Conservatives alone, and while the latter have no majority of their own, they are not too far off.

As usual, the winners of Lower Saxony will proclaim this a foreshadowing of national election results in September, while the losers will point out that state and national elections are totally different beasts. One thing that is different for sure is that the Left Party will definitely be in the next Bundestag (they failed the five-percent threshold in Lower Saxony, but are above that in national polls and have some safe districts in East Germany), cutting into the red-green potential.

Conservative voters will have to weigh whether getting the Liberals, still polling 3-4 percent nationally, into parliament on transfused secondary votes again, or put it all into CDU/CSU, less at risk to lose power in the Bundestag; building them up for distinct leadership in a Grand Coalition with the SPD or going straight for absolute majority may be the better option. From a conservative view, there is also the danger of peaking early; I would like the current poll numbers a lot better if elections were next weekend rather than in eight months.
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#27 TonyE

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 0828 AM

I miss zu Guttenberg.Posted Image
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#28 RETAC21

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 1030 AM

I would need some explanation to understand this... comenters on TV are just as confused...
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#29 BansheeOne

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 1109 AM

Explanation of what point, exactly?
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#30 RETAC21

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 0444 AM

Everything! :) it seems that the common point is that Merkel is popular enough to win or not, but the party does really bad (which is not that apparent to me), and it doesn't make a lot of sense to have people voting 2 different alternatives at the same time
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#31 sunday

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 0531 AM


It's Europe: all the parties are for keeping or increase govt. size!


Not necessarily:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...litics-11538534

When I was born the government ran aerospace, the railways, energy, steel etc. and local government had water - all long since privatised. I don't see the the current government wanting to expand its control into more areas.


Statistical outliers, such as Maggie T., do not count.

Moreover, number of civil servants is quite on the rise.
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#32 BansheeOne

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 0655 AM

I see. :D No, Merkel's Conservatives are actually doing rather good, but are shy of an absolute majority in polls and will likely need a coalition partner to stay in power. Their traditional partners, currently in the federal government with them, are the classical liberal Free Democrats. Those scored uncommonly well in the last national elections because a lot of free-market conservatives were pissed off by the state dirigism of the previous Grand Coalition under Merkel during the world financial crisis, and voted FDP. However, they have since dropped below the five-percent threshold in polls due to playing opposition in government, infighting and general bad press.

The following is an explanation of the German two-votes system. Warning, it may make American elections look a simple tidy affair. :D

The primary vote is for a candidate in each district, classical first-past-the-post count. As elsewhere, this favors the two biggest parties; legendary former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher was the only FDP candidate to ever win a district directly in his East German home city of Halle post-reunification, and former RAF lawyer Hans-Christian Ströbele is the only Green MP elected directly from the, uhm, colorful Berlin district of Kreuzberg. The Left Party is still widely popular in East Germany and always wins a handful of districts there.

In addition to nominating a candidate for each district, parties also make up lists of candidates on the state level. These are chosen by voters with their secondary vote, which counter-intuitively is the more important one as it decides on overall seat allocation in parliament; 50 percent of secondary votes will get a party 50 percent of seats. Obviously those get filled first by those candidates who won their districts directly by primary vote, but if any seats are left after that, they get filled in descending order of list positions.

This gives smaller parties a just share, and also allows the big ones to "insure" important district candidates against a loss in primary voting by giving them a top position on the state list. A complication in national elections is that within the overall share of a party, the list candidates are admitted according to the party's secondary vote results in each of the 16 states; meaning that a low outcome for the Conservatives in Lower Saxony will get them less MPs from their list than their party colleagues from Bavaria with a higher number of secondary votes.

Seats are allocated by one of various mathematical division methods in state and national elections, mostly according to d'Hondt or Hare/Niemeyer. On the national level, freak outcomes could lead to occurrences of "negative voting weight", whereby a good result in one state could actually lose a party seats in another. This was the subject of a recent constitutional court complaint and subsequent voting reform, including a new division method according to Sainte-Laguë.

People who split their vote are usually sympathizers of a small party who are aware that only the two big ones have a realistic chance of winning the district directly, and therefore use their primary vote on one of those candidates rather than wasting it on their own; so Liberals usually vote for the conservative district candidate, green voters for the SPD candidate. Sometimes, they plain find a district candidate personnally more appealing though they still give their secondary vote to their usual party.

There is also the "tactical" voter who goes the reverse way, perfectly demonstrated in the Lower Saxony election. People saw that the Conservatives would never stay in power if the Liberals didn't make it into parliament; the latter were polling at 3-4 percent, well below the five-percent threshold, lost points for the current government coalition. So conservative voters went and gave their secondary vote to the FDP while still electing their local CDU candidates. As noted, they made so sure that the FDP ended up at ten percent, though in the end the coalition still lost by 0.4 points ...

This vote-splitting is the reason for many of what is called "overhang mandates". The Bundestag is supposed to have twice the number of districts in seats, so in theory each of the currently 299 districts could elect one direct and one list candidate. However, as voters spread their choices more and new parties like the Greens, Left and temporary occurrences like the Pirates enter parliaments, it happens increasingly that the two big parties win more districts in one state directly than the seats they would be allocated by secondary votes.

In most states, these "overhang mandates" are compensated by also giving the other parties additional seats until the share according to secondary votes is restored. Until recently, this was not done on the national level; the Bundestag currently has 620 members due to 22 overhang mandates - mostly for the Conservatives, as this phenomen tends to favor the strongest party. Unsurprisingly the Conservatives were also against doing something about it until another recent constitutional court decision forced them to. After the next national election, overhang mandates will be compensated, which means the Bundestag may grow to as many as 700 members.

BTW, a narrow defeat like in Lower Saxony is of course particularly hard, but a fest for pollster who pointed out that if the CDU hadn't changed the division method in Lower Saxony voting law back to d'Hondt (which tends to favor bigger parties in seat allocation) over the objections of the FDP, the compensatory seat for their single overhang mandate wouldn't have gone to the SPD but the FDP, thereby insuring survival of the coalition. The same would have happened if 2,000 more conservative voters had given their secondary vote to the Liberals.

A very remote possibility that they still carry the day is that upon recount the CDU turns out to have won one of two districts where SPD lead was only 300-400 votes; this would give them another overhang mandate, which would definitely be compensated with an FDP seat. However, if they turn out to have won both districts, there will be another compensatory seat for the SPD, and we're back to square one. :D

As mentioned earlier, Lower Saxony is so important because a red-green government there will give the SPD and Greens an absolute majority in the second national chamber. In the Bundesrat, the states have 3-6 votes each according to their size, but the representatives of each state can only vote in block. Coalition partners in state governments usually agree to abstain on matters they have different opinions on, but with an absolute majority of red-green representatives, the Bundesrat could block any law touching state rights and propose its own draft laws. From Merkel's point of view, that certainly speaks for a Grand Coalition after the September election even if she could carry on with the liberals.
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#33 Dave Clark

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 0724 AM

... former RAF lawyer ...

Note this means Rote Armee Fraktion not Royal Air Force!!
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#34 RETAC21

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 1121 AM

Thanks for the explanation, it's clearer now, even though it's suitable overengineered.

Took a second to register that, Dave, looked odd! :)
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#35 BansheeOne

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 0602 AM

My boss was nominated to run for the CDU in her district again on Friday, being the only candidate and getting 93 percent of the delegates' vote despite - or maybe because - local party chiefs tried to ease her out of the picture back in summer. Fortunately the most ambitious pretender talked about that on background to a local paper hostile to my boss, which promptly ran with the story to create a momentum against her. That backfired badly as she ran for the candidacy again out of pure spite despite earlier doubts, and all likely contenders were burned immediately. I keep saying we should officially thank our friends in the media once she wins the district again - we couldn't have managed without them! :D

There is little effect from the Lower Saxony election in national polls run immediately afterwards; the Red-Green camp gained about two points, but that is pretty much within the range of results from previous weeks. The most tangible results were within the miraculously strengthened Liberal Party, where national chairman Philipp Rösler - a native of Lower Saxony (well, actually a native of Vietnam, but adopted as a baby, former Lower Saxony FDP chairman and minister of health) had been embattled for poor results, facing calls for a leadership rearrangement just days before the election.

He followed through with that immediately afterwards from a freshly strengthened position of course and will keep his position, though the front face for the national elections will be his previous main rival Rainer Brüderle from Baden-Württemberg. The latter promptly made headlines not for political exploits but personal conduct when the "Stern" magazine, that paragon of journalist integrity famous for publishing the fake Hitler diaries and never missing an opportunity to capitalize on some lurid details in righteous indignation, ran a story by a young female reporter centered on how Brüderle had somewhat improperly approached her during an informal midnight talk at a hotel bar after an FDP convention a year ago.

The report has stirred a moderate public debate on sexual harrassment and sexism in and outside politics. Brüderle himself hasn't commented, and political opponents are cautious to attack him, while the FDP is mostly attacking "Stern" and the reporter for blowing a story out of all proportion a year after the fact when he has just become the party's top candidate, never having sought an apology or redress before. This happens to come on the heels of another female journalist making public her recent experience with members of the Pirate Party who quite publically called her a whore on Twitter for using personal relations to get information.

Subsequently, an "#outcry" twitter hashtag sprang up where hundreds of women complained about their experiences with sexism in daily life. Media reaction so far is quite balanced, with other journalists pointing out that while Brüderle's alcohol-fueled behaviour as reported may have been unacceptable, informal background talk situations like that carry risks that both politicians and journalists should be aware of before they seek them with the aim of getting more personal information transported. Warning voices point out that nobody should want American conditions in politics and overall professional life, where off-the-record interaction between men and women always seems to carry the threat of harrassment suits and scandalization.
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#36 Simon Tan

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 0608 AM

But what is it with Germans and dissertations?
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#37 Dave Clark

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 0612 AM

A long way from "the good old days" when Willy Brandt's staff ensured that the last journalist having a late night background chat was young and female.
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#38 BansheeOne

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 0908 AM

But what is it with Germans and dissertations?


After former Defense Minister zu Guttenberg was brought down over his badly ghostwritten doctoral thesis, crowdsourced plagiarism investigation of notable politicians has become somewhat of a sport. Well, of notable conservative or liberal politicians, anyway; there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm when it comes to people from the leftist camp.

Currently in the crosshairs is Federal Minister of Education Annette Schavan. The collective on one of the self-styled investigative websites had looked at her dissertation earlier, but considered it an insufficiently demonstrable case; however, a single crusader went ahead and put the media onto it. Her alma mater has been investigating the issue somewhat clumsily, with a single evaluator from a different science department who is also a member of the deciding body attesting her fraudulent intentions.

The uni received some flak from science organisations over violating science standards in its proceedings itself, which led to countercharges because some of those organisations receive money from the budget of Schavan's ministry. Last week they decided to open a formal academic inquiry rather than pulling her title straight away, and the case remains up in the air.
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#39 Mike Steele

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 1024 AM

But what is it with Germans and dissertations?


Judging from his responses, he didn't get it. :P
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#40 TonyE

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 1341 PM

After former Defense Minister zu Guttenberg was brought down....


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