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German Elections 2013

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#41 Harold Jones

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 1632 PM


But what is it with Germans and dissertations?


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


or maybe he did...
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#42 BansheeOne

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 0903 AM

It took me a moment to notice a possibly different meaning, but I still think I got him right ...
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#43 BansheeOne

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 0424 AM

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.


Last night, Uni Düsseldorf decided to pull Schavan's degree without any further external evaluation. Two predictable things happened immediately, Schavan's lawyers announcing to sue against the decision, and the opposition demanding her resignation. The outcome is unclear; conventional wisdom is that a minister of education with her degree withdrawn for fraud in her dissertation is too big of a liability for the government in an election year, but as mentioned the "trial" is controversial, Schavan is considered a quiet substantial worker unlike the flamboyant zu Guttenberg, and a close confident of Chancellor Merkel; she might just save herself over the end of the term.

Of course the grapevine says that David McAllister, fresh out of a job as Lower Saxony minister president come 19 February, is already tagged as Schavan's replacement should she fall. Otherwise, the Lower Saxony election outcome still has not shown a larger impact on national polls; the Conservatives remain in the lead with 40-42 percent, Social Democrats 25-29, Greens 13-15, Liberals 4-5, Left 6-7, Pirates 3-4.

Meanwhile, SPD candidate Steinbrück is on a tour through four European nations seeking to sharpen his profile on EU politics and Euro crisis management, and probably better headlines than at home. Most recently, an "independent" blog has sprung up in his support, run by a PR agency headed by a personal friend of his who is alleged to have been instrumental in the SPD's win in the state of Northrhine-Westphalia three years ago through similiar means already.

The untertaking is reportedly financed with a six-digit sum from half a dozen major entrepreneurs sympathetic to the cause, supposed to be modeled on American Public Action Committees and Obama's internet-run campaign. This is another US-style element first introduced by the Social Democrats, and the anonymous financing in particular has caused a bit of unease; the Greens were first to demand that the backers be made public, though they took the opportunity to point out the government has so far rejected their proposals for sweeping campaign donation reforms.
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#44 Simon Tan

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 0710 AM

Here's a suggestion......ALL political contributions go into a shared pot!
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#45 BansheeOne

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 0740 AM

Actually parties get some public campaign funds (or rather refunding) with the intention to make them more independent from the will of big donators. Any party that achieved at least 0.5 percent of votes in a national or 1 percent in a state election will get reimbursed 70 Eurocent per vote cast (85 cent for the first four million votes). Plus any Euro donated by natural persons or paid as membership fees up to an individual sum of 3,300 gets added 38 cents from public funds. The absolute cap for annual funding is 150 million, though it gets adjusted for inflation.

If there is any complication to a voting system likely to exist, you can be sure we thought of it first. :D
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#46 sunday

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 0845 AM

But what is it with Germans and dissertations?


Well, at least I'm glad we have found a journalist knowledgeable in the stuff he writes about.

Edited by sunday, 06 February 2013 - 1108 AM.

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#47 Simon Tan

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 1037 AM

So good it had to be repeated? I note that in Harvahd they crib en masse.
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#48 sunday

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 1108 AM

I've got a double firing mouse, it seems. Already corrected.
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#49 Mike Steele

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 1314 PM

It took me a moment to notice a possibly different meaning, but I still think I got him right ...


I await your dissertation on the meaning with baited breath.... :P
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#50 Ivanhoe

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 1847 PM

If there is any complication to a voting system likely to exist, you can be sure we thought of it first. :D


Well, you could always require voters to perform the West German Drunk Test at the polls.
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#51 BansheeOne

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 1442 PM

Meanwhile, SPD candidate Steinbrück is on a tour through four European nations seeking to sharpen his profile on EU politics and Euro crisis management, and probably better headlines than at home. Most recently, an "independent" blog has sprung up in his support, run by a PR agency headed by a personal friend of his who is alleged to have been instrumental in the SPD's win in the state of Northrhine-Westphalia three years ago through similiar means already.


Well, that was exciting and short. After massive negative feedback from the web community and repeated hacker attacks, the blog was just announced to be shut down and not come back.
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#52 Simon Tan

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 2030 PM

Jeez.....Would Germany be interested in Der O? Will take plagiarists.
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#53 BansheeOne

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 1004 AM

Actually Obama is reported to plan visiting Berlin in June on the 50th anniversary of JFK's famous "Ick been ine Bareleener" speech, doubtlessly in the great tradition of US presidents who have since embarrassed themselves with more badly-prounounced bits of written-down German on such occasions. Angela Merkel will certainly approve; she has been inviting him since his first term, but there was said to be some bad blood over an alleged German refusal to let him speak at the Brandenburg Gate during his European campaign trip - probably nonsense, since the federal government would have had little say about that. Anyway, while he will of course make sure not to interfere in the German campaign and have carefully balanced meetings with the opposition like any foreign visitor in situations like this, it's in the nature of the business that the government is in a better position to bask in the attention.

Minister Schavan just resigned over the dissertation affair as was to be expected, pursueing her fight to regain her title in a non-official capacity. Her successor will be previous Lower Saxony Minister of Education Johanna Wanka, so at least one of the outgoing state government gets recycled.

Meanwhile the Liberals created another little PC controversy when their Hesse state chairman and minister of integration Jörg-Uwe Hahn mentioned in a byline to an interview about their national leadership quarrels that he was curious to see whether German society had come far enough to accept an Asian-looking vice chancellor like FDP head Philipp Rösler even longer. Of course the opposition cried racism and demanded his resignation too; but while his words could be misunderstood, doing so required a bit of malice, and Rösler has declared he's personal friends with Hahn and the remarks were certainly not directed against himself. Some of the usual watchdog organisations have said that it was in fact good to point out underlying racism in German society.

As an aside, it always amuses me how the left camp talks a good talk about diversity, but it is the current conservative-liberal government that is lead by a female East German chancellor, has an Asian-looking vice chancellor, an openly gay foreign minister married to another man, a wheelchair-bound finance minister, a mother of seven as labor minister, and a family minister who commendably got pregnant and had her first kid on the job. The Red-Green old white male contenders would be hard-pressed to top that! :D

Edited by BansheeOne, 09 February 2013 - 1005 AM.

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#54 Ivanhoe

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 1053 AM

As an aside, it always amuses me how the left camp talks a good talk about diversity, but it is the current conservative-liberal government that is lead by a female East German chancellor, has an Asian-looking vice chancellor, an openly gay foreign minister married to another man, a wheelchair-bound finance minister, a mother of seven as labor minister, and a family minister who commendably got pregnant and had her first kid on the job. The Red-Green old white male contenders would be hard-pressed to top that! :D


Here in the States, the Labor Department is in charge of a different kind of labor...

As for the diversity of the left wing, same thing here in the US, particularly in academia and journalism. Our hard-left institutions that accuse the Republicans of racism on a daily/hourly basis tend to be whiter than a tray of printer paper.
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#55 BansheeOne

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 0646 AM

Parliamentary group leader Gregor Gysi of the Left Party provides for the latest round of political entertainment as the Bundestag lifts his immunity over charges from Hamburg prosecutors that the filed a false affidavit last year in his neverending court proceedings against media reports that he willingly informed on his clients to the Stasi back as a lawyer in East Germany. However, he has a convenient excuse to stay out of public sight for the moment as he broke both shoulders on a ski vacation last week and just underwent surgery. The party is calling it a witch hunt, of course.

Meanwhile, the opposition has seized upon another arms deal reported to being decided for Saudi Arabia, involving a couple Lürssen patrol boats. As in the previous instances of rumored Leopard and Boxer orders, SPD and Greens are charging the government is grossly expanding arms exports and supplying known human rights violators in unstable regions, demanding greater transparency and possibly parliamentary participation in decisions, currently made in secret (but regularly leaked) by the Federal Security Council and published only after the fact in annual reports. The government is countering that they are still sticking to the strict export guidelines made by the last Red-Green government, and the latter apparently saw no problems in making the same secret decisions back then, supplying Saudia Arabia with small arms and parts for patrol boats themselves.

SPD candidate Steinbrück just doesn't come unstuck and is still being asked hard questions about the now-defunct blog project, the Bundestag administration investigating whether this was a form of illegal campaign funding. The last time he went on the offensive was when he demanded a minimum of two TV debates with Chancellor Merkel during the campaign endgame. Merkel, not exactly being a magnetic character, has only ever agreed to one, and there is no indication this will change. Of course the SPD is probably secretly glad about that due to Steinbrück's lose gun traits. Worse, somebody suggested to put imperial TV personality/game/talkshow host/musical producer Stefan Raab in charge of the debate rather than the usual news anchors to spice it up. Lord protect us.
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#56 Dave Clark

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 1516 PM

SCHLAG DEN RAAB mit Angie und Steini!

That`s a winning formula for the Grimme Preis.
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#57 Panzermann

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 1112 AM

SCHLAG DEN RAAB mit Angie und Steini!

That`s a winning formula for the Grimme Preis.

There got to be room for a jungle or an island in that. Or how about some wok racing?



BansheeOne, keep up the reporting. It really helps to not get confused by the daily news blahblah and every petty "scandal" therein. :)

Edited by Panzermann, 13 February 2013 - 1114 AM.

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#58 BansheeOne

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 0540 AM

The slight dent in national polls left by the Lower Saxony state elections has largely buffed out, tough with a rather large spread between pollsters. The Conservatives are still at 39-43, SPD 24-30, Greens 14-15, Liberals 3-6, Left 6-7, Pirates 2-4. The apparent lack of movement is again fueling thoughts about new coalition patterns like the Greens going with the Conservatives (which the Green leadership doesn't want to hear, maintaining they will succeed the current government with the SPD); the realist wing of the Left Party is also making renewed overtures to the Social Democrats (which the latter don't want to hear because they fear CDU/CSU will use it against them).

There is a distinct lack of campaign topics until now; the elephant in the room is the Euro crisis, but the problem for the opposition is that Angela Merkel's policy so far is widely popular, and the SPD doesn't dare to speak too loud - at least at home - about the greater European solidarity that is their line. There is some potential in energy cost which are rising due to the planned replacement of nuclear power by renewable energies following the Fukushima angst two years ago; but again the problem for the SPD and Greens is in criticizing the government for the bad execution of something they always wanted to do, but never got around to themselves in the first place.

In the absence of major issues fit for exploitation, people are trying smaller ones like arms exports and the plans for acquisition of armed UAVs; even last week's decision by the Constitutional Court that homosexual partners should be allowed to co-adopt kids previously adopted by one partner was given a go, mostly centered around the fact the Conservatives hadn't much to say about it. Already there is speculation that Merkel, who is famous for co-opting controversial issues like in the nuclear power question, might go ahead and push for greater rights for homosexual couples overall, including in taxation, which the Liberals are in favor of anyway.

There is similiar movement on the issue of minimum wages, which CDU/CSU however want to leave to unions and employers to negotiate. They are not budging on their plans to grant families who don't make use of the recently established right to daycare for toddlers a compensatory payment though, something the SPD and Greens have derisively termed a "hearth bonus" aimed at keeping mothers in the kitchen, and announced to be rescinded immediately if they should be elected. However, personalities rather than topics are dominating for now, and unfortunately for the opposition it is currently still Gregor Gysi's Stasi connections rather than the main contender for chancellorship Peer Steinbrück in the spotlight.

The Left probably didn't do itself a favor by unusually calling a debate over last week's vote of the Bundestag to lift immunity of two of their deputies over charges of blocking a legal demonstration of neonazis in Dresden two years ago; they got promptly told by everbody else that while the cause was commendable, other citizens got charged on the same grounds, and parlamentarians are not above the law when it comes to defying police orders, the decision on consequences to be made by the courts rather than parliament itself.

Meanwhile, Bavaria officially decided to hold state elections on 15 September. This will be the final test before the national elections a week later, likely to restore the CSU to an absolute majority in Munich rather than the current Conservative-Liberal coalition like in Berlin; pollsters currently give them 46-48, SPD 19-20, Greens 12-15, Liberals 3, Left 2, Free Voters 8-9, Pirates 3.
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#59 BansheeOne

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 1227 PM

Steinbrück strikes again. Just as the Conservatives are embroiled in some public infighting about the homosexual partership issue which the opposition has tried to exploit for their gain, he goes and comments on the outcome of the Italian election with "two clowns have won", referring to Berlusconi and comedian-turned-anti-establishment-leader Beppe Grillo. Again, endearing outspokeness in the wrong place.

Italian President Napolitano, currently visiting Germany, promptly cancelled a dinner with Steinbrück planned for tonight which would have lent the candidate a bit of foreign policy glamour. Worse, it undermines the SPD's line that Angela Merkel is making Germany unpopular in Europe with her hard stance on austerity. I could swear this guy is a CDU/CSU sleeper agent.
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#60 BansheeOne

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 0627 AM

CDU/CSU actually managed to ensnare themselves in a bit of an internal quarrel about the homosexual parterships issue; after the first push was for granting more rights than called for by the constitutional court ruling to get rid of the matter for the foreseeable time, national leadership came down on the side of clinging to one of the last remnants of an identifyable conservative core and only allow the warranted co-adoptions. There is still debate on the income tax aspect; it is probably inevitable to arrive eventually since joint filing of couples is already allowed through a backdoor (no pun intended) by state tax authorities as of March last year, but probably not before the September elections.

This is really not a topic that concerns the wide public anyway; as mentioned, it is rather indicative of the lack of actual controversies either camp wants to breach. We are currently concentrating on the tax plans of SPD and Greens, which include raising the rate for top incomes and inheritances, as well as the reintroduction of an extra "wealth tax". As to be expected, SPD candidate Steinbrück has a tough job selling that to business, particularly middle-class business which is habitually celebrated as the bedrock of the German economy; especially unfortunate for him since he was always seen as a pro-business man who was chosen over the objections of the party's left wing, and hoped to find support from that clientele.

His campaign keeps struggling with itself, too; officially it should be run out of party headquarters under SPD secretary-general Andrea Nahles, but she and Steinbrück are not necessarily close and both rather edgy characters. Steinbrück has had his own team since the beginning, though hastily assembled due to the short-noticed way he was nominated and fraught with bad personnel decisions. An entrepreneur tagged to advise on his online campaign was booted early on after a controversy about his work for the exact type of high-risk investment funds Steinbrück has been attacking for their role in the world financial crisis, and others turned down offers.

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 ...

Little change in national polls, with CDU/CSU at 40-41, SPD 25-28, Greens 14-17, Liberals 4-5, Left 6-8. The Pirates can probably be discounted at this point, with 2-3 percent six months before the elections. There is even some speculation about the possibility of a minority government since everybody has ruled out any coalition that would have a majority in parliament with current numbers, but I stand by my prediction that ultimately the SPD will enter a new Grand Coalition with CDU/CSU, though without Steinbrück.

The CDU/FDP state government of Hesse also decided to have elections slightly early, on the same day as the Bundestag, obviously hoping to profit from the national trend. There are no current polls for the state, but back in December Hesse numbers looked similiar to Lower Saxony with CDU 36, SPD 31, Greens 18, FDP 4, Left 5, Pirates 3; with those results they would lose to a red-green coalition, so they have their work cut out.

Also, Stefan Raab actually made it to the TV debate - he will represent the Sat 1/ProSieben group along with more professional anchors from ARD, ZDF and RTL. I guess that means everybody prepares for just a single Merkel-Steinbrück duel as the chancellor has predictably not shown any intent to participate in more.

Edited by BansheeOne, 08 March 2013 - 0637 AM.

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