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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

Economist stirring up the economic debate

I wanted to summarize the Economist's theses, but that has already be done very nicely by TGeraghty. Thanks a lot!

Anyway, you will not be surprised that one of the most influential economic publications opening with a positive story about Germany was widely recognised in the news media. Der Spiegel wrote a big piece about it, the Süddeutsche Zeitung felt stimulated to state that "Germany's economy is better than its reputation" and Gerhard Schröder would not be Gerhard Schröder if he did not make the most out of it. In the "Berlin Mitte" talkshow, he answered questions about economic problems smilingly by just citing from the Economist's article. This could provide him with some decent bonus points in the next polls.

Learning from Bush: A flip-flop spot against Merkel

Remember who John Kerry was? No? Well, then: Does the word "flip-flop" trigger something? - Ah, yes! Now you remember! The guy who first said this, then said that and finally said that first he said this and then said that.

I know it's not that simple. But many a people remember him just that way. And that is a huge compliment for Carl Rove.

The German Social Democrats have learned from Boy Genius. They were able to exploit a leak in the CDU campaign machinery that provided them with a CDU election spot early enough that they managed to produce a parody before the original was officially launched.

In the (CDU-)original, a man's hand holds an iron bowl (like a petanque bowl) and rolls it carelessly (seemingly downwards) across a table. On its way, it bowls down everything that is on the table: a bunch of pencils, a glass of water. A dark male voice sums up economic growth deficit, unemployment and the growing deficit. At the other end of the table, a woman's hand stops the bowl just before it falls off the table.

In the (SPD-)parody a woman (you can not see her face but it is clear it's Mrs. Merkel) tosses an iron bowl from her left hand into the right, back left again, bak again and again and again. A sarcastic male voice tells us about Merkel-flip flops on the war in Iraq, commuter benefits and VAT. And peaks in a derisive, ironic comment about her confusing gross and net income.

Watch the videos here (CDU) and here (SPD). They are in German, but you can easily understand the picture language.

I'd say that this is 1:0 for Schröder. But on the other hand it shows for the uptenth time that his campaign lacks spirit, is not able to move on its own and unable to set an agenda and consequently a campaign that is designed to react rather than act.

Kirchhof controversial?

First of all I have to admit that the appointment of Paul Kirchhof in Merkel's shadow cabinet generated more controversy than I had expected. Unions and Social Democrats recalled his plans for a flat tax at about 20 per cent for everyone, from least-income worker to Deutsche Bank chairman in exchange for cancelling all tax abatements. Since that did not bode well neither with the Germany public nor with the CDU base, he softened his plans slightly (25 per cent tax), but sticks to the flat tax idea.

Mrs. Merkel has proposed to make him his finance minister, but I am inclined to not putting too much emphasis on this. For any CDU partner (FDP and CSU) would demand considerable compensation - either in policy or in "cabinet cast" - for not getting the finance ministry. I am only going to believe that Kirchhof becomes finance minister when he has sworn his oath before the Bundestag.

New polls

I know you like numbers, so here are the new polls:

ZDF-Politbarometer by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen:

.         19/8  12/8  05/8
CDU/CSU   43.0  42.0  42.0
SPD       29.0  29.0  28.0
GREEN      9.0   9.0   9.0
FDP        8.0   8.0   8.0
LEFT/PDS   8.0   9.0   9.0


.         17/8  11/8  04/8
CDU/CSU   42.0  42.0  42.0
SPD       30.0  29.0  29.0
GREEN      8.0   9.0   8.0
FDP        7.0   6.0   6.0
LEFT/PDS   9.0  10.0  11.0

The trend from the Forsa poll last Tuesday is confirmed by the weekend polls: The Left Party was not able to gain from Stoiber's desplicable remarks about East Germans. Quite the contrary: Although the different pollsters see the Left Party at different percentages, they agree with the fact that they lost support during the last three weeks.

Most notably, a possible conservative-(market-)liberal coalition of CDU/CSU and FDP now has regained absolute majority.

That's All Folks! Thanks for your attention and have a nice weekend!

Thanks for the update. I'll be curious to see if Schröeder gets any bounce out of this Economist, et al, news.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 11:14:11 AM EST
Me too. I'm courious about the Forsa poll next Tuesday. This weekend's polls were conducted too early to give account of any effect this could have.
by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 11:41:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mrs. Merkel has proposed to make him his finance minister, but I am inclined to not putting too much emphasis on this... I am only going to believe that Kirchhof becomes finance minister when he has sworn his oath before the Bundestag.

Well, I think the fact that Merkel chose such a market liberal as her expert is important enough - it signifies the direction of thinking.

The slogan in the CDU spot: "Für mehr Wachstum - und mehr Arbeit" (= for more growth - and more work, i.e. jobs) signifies the same: wages not mentioned.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 11:45:15 AM EST
You are right, but I assumed that this is no real news. The CDU's former slogan "Sozial ist, was Arbeit schafft" ("Social is what creates jobs") was very much the same. The golden rule for every conservative politician:

"Don't mention the wages!"

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 12:08:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The political commercials are quite interesting. The photography in the CDU commercial wins; it's really quite effective. But I leave the overall impact for you to judge.

Now it would be nice for the Greens or Left to have a commercial in which you have a recognizable pair of SDP and CDU hands juggling the balls between each other...and then dropping them...only to get picked up by another set of hands.

Or something like that.

by gradinski chai on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 12:10:02 PM EST
that suggests that the counter-ad was made under severe time pressure. In terms of photography and symbolic language, the CDU ad wins. But the coup of making a parody before the original ad was launched (increasing its news value) could cancel (or even reverse) the CDU ad's effect.
by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 02:59:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The CDU spot is quite effective (more so than the SPD response IMO) - until Merkel starts speaking. I think the conservatives are ill advised to let her open her mouth in campaign spots. She's obviously trying to come across as sincere, but she seems weak and insecure (and terribly rehearsed). The SPD spot gets points for one-up-manship, but that's about it (and it will be lost on anybody who hasn't seen the clip it's responding to).

If you can't convince them, confuse them. (Harry S. Truman)
by brainwave on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 04:10:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Oh that's right there's going to be an Election here sometime soon. Must be, the PBC posters are already up. Always the first up and the last down in Nürnberg.

PBC is the Partei Bibeltreuer Christen.

Yes, in Germany there is is a conservative religious minority with similar beliefs to those in the USA. I won't go into their platform, but think Dobson, Falwell et al.

Eats cheroots and leaves.

by NeutralObserver on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 03:08:02 PM EST

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