Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lord: It Is Time

Once upon a time, we had one similarity with the States. Two popular parties, the middle-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the middle-left Social Democrats (SPD) dominated Germany's party landscape. When on the federal or a state level elections did not result in absolute parliamentary majorities for one of the grand parties a coalition partner easily was at hand be it the Liberals (FDP), the Greens, or even one of the other smaller parties.
The state elections in Bavaria last Sunday have changed all this. The up to now dominating Christian Socialists (Bavaria’s Christian Democrats) were reduced to 37.2% and lost their absolute majority in Bavaria’s state parliament. Losses were even more dramatic for the Social Democrats. With their votes being halved to 9.7% they only ended up in fifth place in the Bavarian party spectrum. Question: Who still needs old aunt SPD?

It all started with the result of the federal election in the fall of 2017 when the governing grand coalition of CDU and SPD under Chancellor Merkel lost 12,8% of the popular votes. Because the junior partner SPD had suffered bigger losses than the Christian Democrats they declined to renew the unpopular grand coalition seeking to polish their image as a party in opposition.

Merkel instead tried to accommodate Greens and Liberals into a Jamaica coalition. It took those three parties 5 weeks of consultations until the Liberals (FDP) slammed the door on Merkel.

Instead of breaking the deadlock with new federal elections - the grand parties were fearing further losses - the SPD eventually assumed its “political responsibility for the Republic”. Following another 2 months of coalition negotiations and full of frustration the Genossen (comrades) eventually entered into a new grand coalition against a strong opposition in their own ranks.

From the beginning the electorate was upset but the situation got even worse. Instead of taking up work rapidly the new grand coalition, trying to stay aloof from the right-wing AfD, was quarreling about the refugee issue. Why did they not take to heart old Bill Clinton’s slightly modified dictum, “It’s not the migration, stupid?”

So the government had little time to work on already procrastinated issues vigorously; at best they treated burning problems amateurishly as there are:

- providing affordable housing in German cities,
- defending the cheated customers in the diesel scandal,
- building new power lines for transporting wind energy from the north to the south,
- stopping the mortality of the bees by limiting the use of insecticides, and
- enforcing strong measures against climate change in view of the never-ending summer of 2018.

Here not only the first lines of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem Autumn Day* ...

Lord: it is time.
Summer has been very large.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let the winds loose on the open fields.
Herr: es ist Zeit.
Der Sommer war sehr groß.

Leg Deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren
und auf den Fluren lass die Winde los.

... fit well but the Greens come in strongly too. The last report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) boosted them just in time nearly doubling their votes.

The summer is not over yet with temperatures above 25⁰ Celsius (77⁰ Fahrenheit) in Freiburg in the middle of October and still no rain in sight until the end of the month.
*for a full version of Herbsttag consult

Is a new popular party born?

Note: The German electorate is no longer dumb as Stimmvieh (gullable voters or voting cattle) but follows closely what "those in Berlin" do or rather don’t do. In two weeks from now, voters in the state of Hesse will elect their new parliament. Only until then there is Burgfrieden (a truce) in Berlin.

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