September 18, 2005

Who won the Cold War? Thoughts on the German Election.

Posted in Germany at 11:13 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]
The Left owns political and economic Germany. That’s my opinion, anyway. By saying this, I’m not ignoring the FDP’s suprising success in today’s election. What I’m suggesting is this: Germany is in a very difficult economic situation after seven years of the SPD and Greens, a leftist coalition. Yet no amount of misery seems enough to tilt people towards trying out a more free market economy. And don’t try to convince me that the FDP’s nice 2.6% gain is a sign of that — ok, maybe it is a bit, but let’s look instead at today’s real winners: the communists. Ok, I’ll call the combo of the PDS and Lafontainists “hard-lefties” instead of communists, just to play fair. They garnered 8.7% of the vote today, surpassing the Green party in the number of seats in Parliament. That’s a 4.7% jump for the hard-lefties.

And the Green party — which you might think would be punished a bit for being part of the coalition that has governed for seven years — lost almost nothing, with a measly 0.4% turning away from them. This means that the 4.3% who gave up on Schroeder’s SPD, plus the 0.4% that left the Greens, went in one and only one direction: left. According to the projections I am looking at right now (ZDF circa 22:15, 18. September 2005), the governing coalition parties’ losses (-4.3 + -0.4 = -4.7%) are exactly the far left’s gain (+4.7%).

Think of what this really means: it’s not just the case that nobody — after years of recession — has been convinced of a need to move towards a freer marketplace. It’s much worse: 4.7% of the voting populace fled towards even more socialism.

Still not convinced that The Left owns political and economic Germany? Think, then, about the tenor of the campaign. With such a miserable economy, you would think that the governing parties would be the ones on the defensive. But that was not at all the case. They had absolutely no reason to be on the defensive, because, fundamentally, most people think the same way they do: socialism and americo-skepticism (or blatant anti-americanism).

Speaking of being on the defensive, who the heck won the Cold War? The party that is more likely to let a positive utterance about the United States slip out — the CDU/CSU — had to be on the defensive and make sure they didn’t come across as pro-American. Rephrase: the greatest democratic ally that Germany has ever had was a liability in this campaign. But I also sense that Merkel was on the defensive economically. Instead of Gerhard Schroeder — or those more Socialist than he — being on the defensive and needing to explain what happened over the last several years, the CDU needed to be careful not to offend those people who live off of the state.

Needless to say, I am unhappy with the election results. I’m sorry to say this, because I wish the Germans well, but to me this seems like Germany is even less “dynamic” — and more stagnant — than I previously thought. I might even say it seems like a “fearful” country, where the people shy away from change and are hiding under a thin and shabby security blanket that they are terrified will be yanked off of them.


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