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

German Election Early News Roundup

by Zwackus Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 03:51:23 AM EST

I know next to nothing about German politics, but I can paste links with the best of them. Here is what I have found. Please add context and content as interested and available.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Let's start with this.

German cabinet proposes 24 September election date

After a cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning in Berlin, the German government settled on the last Sunday in September as a suggestion for the general election. German President Joachim Gauck must now officially accept the proposed date.

The election will be for the 19th session of the Bundestag, Germany's national parliament. All the current 630 representatives will be up for election, though the exact size of the future chamber depends on Germany's complex proportional representation system.

The elections will be watched worldwide to see whether Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) will continue to hold the largest number of seats in the parliament, and therefore be in the strongest position to form a government. Also awaited is whether the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party will pass the five percent hurdle and enter the legislative assembly for the first time.

The Greens look to be aiming for a coalition with the CDU, if this article is to be trusted.

German Greens pick Göring-Eckardt and Özdemir to lead party in election

Germany's Green Party announced Tuesday morning that Cem Özdemir and chairwoman Katrin Göring-Eckardt will lead the party into September's parliamentary elections.

Though she already had the position sealed because of the Green party's one-man-one-woman rule in its leadership positions, Göring Eckardt confirmed her place with 70.63 percent of the membership vote.

But the battle among the men for the other role was much tighter. Co-chair Cem Özdemir fought off parliamentary leader Anton Hofreiter and Robert Habeck, environment minister and deputy state premier of Schleswig-Holstein, by an extremely slim margin: Özdemir took 35.96 percent of the vote, to Habeck's 35.74 percent - a gap of only 75 votes. Hofreiter came third with 26.19 percent.

The interesting bit comes a bit later in the article.

This time, the party has chosen two from the so-called realist wing, and Hofreiter's third place was read by political pundits as a defeat for the party's leftist wing. But Göring-Eckardt dismissed the labels. "Our members showed that they don't think in wings," she said at the press conference, "and that's good." Predictably, she and Özdemir batted away any questions speculating about potential coalition preferences. "That can't be done in these times," she said.

Here is an older article on dissent within the CDU, portrayed by Speigel as an attack on Merkel by younger and more conservative politicans. This is a long and in-depth article with a lot of context on the CDU, and was thus quite informative for me.

Merkel Critics Deal a Blow to Chancellor

Now, at the CDU convention earlier this week, there was a movement afoot to do away with dual citizenship once again. And Merkel didn't stand a chance.

"Of course you have to make compromises in a governing coalition," said Spahn. "But we're at a party convention." The applause was so loud that it was immediately clear that he would emerge victorious and, ultimately, a majority of the delegates present voted to throw out the deal with SPD. Spahn, who is just 36 years old, showed Merkel, who has led the CDU for 16 years, where the limits of her power were.

The vote over dual citizenship was just the latest in a series of defeats recently handed to Merkel by her own party. Even before the convention, Spahn and other members of the party's conservative wing had pushed through important changes to those parts of the convention resolution pertaining to refugees. In addition, Thomas Strobl, one of five CDU deputy heads, unexpectedly introduced a paper calling for a stricter deportation policy. Parts of it were included word-for-word in in the resolution.

As for the SPD, they seem mostly ready to go forward agaisnt Merkel under current SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel.

SPD leader Gabriel expected to challenge Merkel in Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) are expected to choose their long-standing chairman Sigmar Gabriel to run against conservative Angela Merkel for chancellor in September's federal election, senior party sources said on Thursday.

Gabriel, vice chancellor and economy minister in Merkel's right-left coalition for the last four years, is more popular with the SPD rank and file than his recent predecessors but also has a reputation for being impetuous and unpredictable.

"There's no way around Sigmar Gabriel as candidate for chancellor at this point," one senior party source told Reuters.

"The likelihood is very, very, very high that Gabriel will be the candidate for chancellor," a second source and member of the party's executive committee added.

Party officials stressed, however, that no final decision was expected until the end of January.

Some party members had hoped that Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, would be named as the SPD's top candidate in the election, with polls showing he would get more votes than Gabriel in a matchup with Merkel.

That looks unlikely, especially now that the party is expected to name Schulz as foreign minister to replace Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whom the coalition parties agreed to elect as German president on Feb. 12.

Looking at the polls on Wikipedia:

Notice how CDU and AfD looks like communicating vessels?

It looks unlikely that any two-party coalition will reach 50% except for CDU-SPD. CDU-AfD has a chance if FDP misses 5% again and CDU-Greens if Greens does a good election.

I am going to guess that SPD still prefers being minor coalition partner to CDU before trying to lead a red-red-green government, even if they get the seats for it.

So Merkel rules on.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 01:24:48 PM EST
Definitely. Recently there is a red red green coalition in Berlin. And Berlin seems definitely to be the place where political hope goes to die. The Left gave Andrej Holm, a noted activist for renter rights a State Secretariate. (Is that what it's called? Staatssekretär?) He also was in the Stasi academy when he was 18. So the usual happens, the national office that manages the Stasi files releases his because they are relevant for lower level functionaries if leftwing as opposed to for example CDU chancellors. We then have the usual song and dance until the SPD mayor decides to fire him. Useless as ever.
by generic on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 02:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Humboldt university has fired him as well. Everybody knew he was a Stasi trainee, even a full time employee for a short time before the wall came down. So why have him employed in the first place? Secondly, why nominate him for a deputy minister post?

From a professional pov he had a lot of informative things to say about gentrification. But it was foreseeable that his nomination wouldn't fly politically. Which leads me to believe that "R2G" (current parlance for Red-Red-Green) is dead on arrival in the general election because they're amateurs.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 11:35:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I can see the allegations are a nothing burger. The SPD folding here means they aren't ready to face a stiff breeze. You can look at Sanders and Corbyn if you have any doubt about what you'd have to face if you get close to succeeding with a left wing program.
by generic on Fri Jan 20th, 2017 at 02:06:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Suceeding? Nobdoy has gotten that far yet. Corbyn and Sanders show what happens if you even dare articulate a left-wing program in public.
by Zwackus on Fri Jan 20th, 2017 at 02:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a long-term disaster. AfD biggest opposition party? Something needs to give.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 07:54:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Latest polls have CDU approaching 40% again by taking from Greens/SPD. It's all messed up. Is anybody expecting Gabriel to put up a serious fight? As if he has been successful setting political priorities. With what angle? Something about minimum wage or social housing maybe? We absolutely need the grand coalition not to happen again but it looks like the only mathematical possibility at this point. Scheiße!

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 11:25:43 PM EST
Boom. The book dealer is running for chancellor. Also relinquishes party chair to Schulz.

Even Gabriel wasn't up for challenging Merkel in 2017 - DW

The Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel has spent his career aiming high. But he has apparently decided that he does not have the stature or the stamina to beat Germany's incumbent chancellor, Angela Merkel, this time around.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 07:55:17 PM EST
So, a sacrificial lamb to be ground up by the gears of the Right, or a canny move to push a relative outsider in these anti-establishment times?

Martin Schulz - from 'pig' to top politician

German politics and Martin Schulz - until now, the connection could be summed up in one word: Würselen. Würselen is a city of 38,000 residents, just north of Aachen, in the west of Germany. It is where 62-year-old Martin Schulz grew up. And it is where he still lives. He was the city's mayor for 11 years, from 1987 until 1998, and ran a bookshop there with his sister.

Until now, Schulz has been a European politician: He was a European parliamentarian, the leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party's (SPD) national group in Europe, and the leader of the EU socialists' block. He was the socialists' top candidate in the 2014 European election, and served as the president of the European Parliament from 2012 to 2017. But now, Schulz has come into the fold as a national politician in Germany.


Schulz's clear words are perhaps also why he is so surprisingly popular. According to the latest opinion polls, he is as popular among Germans as Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He is also far more popular than SPD leader and current Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. Now Gabriel wants Schulz to stand as the party's candidate for chancellor. During the 2014 European elections, he took 27.3 percent of the vote in Germany when he ran as the SPD's top EU candidate. It was a better result than Peer Steinbrück received six months earlier as the party's candidate for German chancellor (25.7 percent).

by Zwackus on Wed Jan 25th, 2017 at 02:10:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
`This could be a very good move by the SPD.  Not only is Schulz unsullied by association with national politics, but his period as President of the EP will provide him with an acute awareness of feelings right across the EU. He seems to have been quite popular with most European politicians and should be able to articulate the larger challenges facing the EU and Germany within it. I suspect his presence will also ensure a more coherent EU negotiating response to Brexit.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 25th, 2017 at 11:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One wonders if his problem is that the past is remembered at all, or if it is that it is not celebrated as a great victory for the race.

German right-wing AfD reprimands, but keeps key player after Holocaust remarks

Björn Höcke had triggered controversy when he described the Berlin Holocaust memorial as a "monument of shame," calling for "nothing other than a 180-degree reversal on the politics of remembrance."

He made his comments to an AfD youth group in Dresden last week and his speech went viral on Youtube. "These stupid politics of coming to grips with the past cripple us," Höcke told the crowd.

Leaders of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), decided on Monday that Höcke, who is regional party head in the state of Thuringia, was to face disciplinary measures for his ambiguous comments, but could remain in the party.

The decision comes amid growing calls for his resignation. The AfD's prominent co-leader, Frauke Petry, last week alluded that Höcke might be thrown out after she described his as a "burden for the party."

by Zwackus on Wed Jan 25th, 2017 at 02:18:43 AM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]