Germany’s Political Parties – A Rainbow of Uncertainty

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Germany! Let’s skip right past that Austrian fellow with the mustache to the After Times and my intentionally awful German. I try to curry flavour, but I’m just the Wurst. If anything, I will only skip back but to explain history as necessary. And painful puns are kaput.

So, Angela Merkel, after 16 years (four terms) stepped aside. Helmut Kohl, of the same party, served pretty much the same and didn’t even get a back rub from W…

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE PARTIES

CDU/CSU union is a centre-right party which has been very successful since postwar times. In Germany, there are sixteen states, or, Bundesländer, comprising a federal republic (stop me if that’s familiar, because, whilst similar to the United States of America, don’t get too comfy quite yet).

Just kidding – that’s the Holy Roman Empire

Psyche, that’s just the Holy Roman Empire.

CDU, or, Die Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany is kinda like the Republican Party in the US or more like the Conservative Party of the UK – honestly, it’s to the left of Manchin and other centrist Democrats in the US sometimes [don’t overread the Christian – it’s not a theocratic platform]. Her cohort is the CSU in Bavaria – the Texas of Germany – so more socially conservative and given history, Catholic [and maybe a smidge theocratic] – but ideology aside, they work in tandem just like the Farmer-Labor Parties do with the Democratic Party in the US. Just, Bavaria and Texas need to get their cocks out and get it over with to see who is bigger. Bavaria always votes conservative CSU – even Munich.

Customarily CDU/CSU is shown as black – they even had a campaign poster in English saying “Black is Beautiful” – cringe. Although, historically the Christian Democrats were Orange and the CSU was … Bavarian Blue. Because… [They are the Texas of Germany and the Bavarian flag is light blue and white].

Fun fact, Angela Grew up in East Germany, speaks Russian fluently and her doctoral thesis was in quantum chemistry – no joke

SPD, or Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, the Social Democratic Party, is the traditional centre-left. It’s also the oldest party in Germany – established in 1863. It is the Party of Gerhard Schröder who preceded Merkel, and notably Otto Wels – the last person to talk shit to Hitler before the Enabling Act of 1933 – and yes, there is audio of this.

Otto Wels

But it’s boring and even though the National Socialists went after the Sociaiists and Communists and allied with the conservatives… don’t get me started on that canard. Anyway, after the war, the SPD reëmerged [but in two Germanies]. They are akin to Labour in the UK and other nations. They are officially socialists, but as with Labour and other socialist parties in Europe, are the establishment centre-left party. They do best traditionally with blue collar workers and trade unionists. Their colour is… Rot. Red, duh. And I’m glossing over a whole lot. Not getting into the three arrows and all that.


FDP, or Die Freie Demokratische Partei, is kinda like the Liberal Democrats of the UK. It’s classically liberal – what we in the US might call Libertarian, but more Penn Gillette than Ron Paul, if that makes sense. Mark Cuban would be FDP. As is customary for Liberal parties [again, don’t get me on that rant and why I prefer progressive or left very intentionally], their colour is yellow or gold. They give fuck all about social issues so long as taxes are low and regulations cut. They do better in certain states and kinda rise and fall like the DAX. They had a controlled opposition version in the East German Volkskammer (the East German Diet – English pun intended) – as did the CDU, etc.

The SED – the ruling party of East Germany, was formally a union of the SPD and KPD (Communist Party of Germany) – technically. Yes the Soviets pulled a lot of strings, but I always get annoyed that East Germany was its own thing, as well – I digress. [See my Ode to the DDR here.]


Die Grünen – Bündnis 90 – The only Green Party in the &*^%#$##@@&* world that is actually really ^%##** powerful in its own right (or left). Again, the parallel group existed in East Germany and was absorbed – thus the Bundnis ’90 [getting together]. I never got the date thing, but it’s popular throughout the world to identify movements with dates. I don’t know what to say other than they aren’t a fringe party as Green Parties are in the rest of the world. Even centre-left by German and European standards. Stereotypically, their base are younger educated people in the big urban centers. Their colour is …. guess – not a trick question. Also, this is their current leader, Annalena Baerbock:

I mean … yes?

Die Linke – The Left. This is Marxist American Republicans. This is unapologetically hardline Democratic Socialist. It is actually the successor of the SED ruling party of East Germany and does well mostly in the former East. Rammstein, the German band, all grew up in East Germany. They were criticized for all being buff and athletic and perhaps right wing in the mid ’90s. Their answer was a song called Links [Left]. The lead singer, at least, has inferred he votes for this party. Their official colour is of course red, but customarily magenta so as not to be confused with the SPD in charts and polls. I have a little affection for them – again my Ostalgie and twisted East German fetish as mentioned before. Last I checked, Communist Parties are still banned in Germany going back to the government in Bonn in the 50s in West Germany and that is still policy (correction there is a very minor Communist Party and it’s legal again). That whole Ulrika Meinhof Red Army Fraktion and stuff also … This was a recent prominent leader of The Left, Dr. Sahra Wagenknecht, who models herself after Rosa Luxemburg and Frida Kahlo.

She’s a really good orator

And last and very much least…

AfD – Alternativ für Deutschland [no link for them – google them if you must – I don’t want them getting any clicks]. “Alternative for Germany.” If you watch the news you may have heard of them, so I don’t want to say too much. They were founded in 2013 to make Marine le Pen, Geert Wilders, Viktor Orbán and Nigel Farage jealous. And, they are sort of the heirs and softer version of the NDP, or National Democratic Party – itself very unsubtle with its Nazi æsthetics and goals – again google that mess with the German Supreme Court. And on a tangent check out Fratelli d’Italia which is rebranding Fascism in Italy as a softer and kinder far-right.

AfD is indeed clever with its branding. it’s like the Diet Fanta or abridged Young Adult Mein Kampf lit on TikTok, but all the previous parties agree on one thing: a coalition involving AfD ist verboten – they are toxic. Interestingly, other than Bavaria (because, we talked about this), they do well in the southern part of former East Germany (Saxony, Thüringia – a German coal belt still not feeling the benefits of reunification decades later. The 2011 film, Kriegerin, or, Combat Girls, nails it. Since they can’t fly the red Nazi flag, they go with light blue and a red phallic swoosh for some reason. Also, if you see this and such, it is right wing Neo-Nazis – given Germany is kinda strict on Nazi symbols. So this is one example of an Imperial flag from the early 1900’s. It’s a shame, because I think those and Prussian flags are kickass. Well, leave it to racist right wingers to ruin everything for the flag nerds. What else is new? Also, German Qanon and antivaxxers make not ao much a Venn diagram as much as a perfect crooked circle with the neo-Nazis.

Conclusions

So I glossed over a lot. Germany has a mixed proportional system, which I wish we had – or at least toyed with party list and d’Hondt systems rather than first past the post. Also, if you are German citizen for at least three months, you don’t register to vote. Rather, the State will send you information on polling places should you chose to vote – your state will already have you in the system. If you wish to vote absentee, you inform the government at the minimum of two weeks in advance. Voting days are generally on a Sunday or Holiday, and should you be working, the government will often reimburse your employer so that you can go vote.

In your constituency, in your state, you vote for your locall candidate first. And then, you vote for your preferred party. If the way they allocate this all is super not me explaining very well, I’ll include links [in the English sense – that’s my gift] – but so long as a party gets a 5% threshold, they are guaranteed proportional seats (Die Linke for example). Beyond this, my head hurts trying to explain it, but it’s still better than the Electoral College- though that’s not saying much..

And after that, it’s building coalition time! I love how they have cute coalition nicknames based on colours. In 2017 it was actually a grand coalition between Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the SPD. So, red black – which has no cute nickname I’m aware of. It took five months to flesh out then, after the FDP took their ball and went home, as they have to compromise on certain policies and divvy out cabinet posts – …and consider they campaign only six weeks prior to the election!

In this one, SPD won barely, and the CDU/CSU fell slightly. As in Britain, though they are not voting for Chancellor, it’s known who the candidate is when you vote for their party. But, the Greens did historically well, and the FDP – apparently the DAX was good? Kinda came out of slumber – they really fluctuate – but they are more the perennial spoiler than truly flexing their power.

So, even though the Head of State is the President, unlike with the Queen in England or even in Israel with their ceremonial President, the President of Germany does not invite nor ask anyone to form a government.

Thus, most are anticipating a foundational Christmas coalition (SPD-Grün), or even a traffic light coalition (SPD-FDP-Grün) later. Of course, the CDU/CSU could pull a Jamaica coalition (Union/FDP/Grün) – which is like creating a Bob Marley Frankenstein. It would not be stable for long.

The numbers aren’t so tight that the progressive wing would need Die Linke – and again, nobody is dealing with and can “not see“….I mean, maybe a dolphin the AfD and concentrate on that train racing and superior with its iron will… I’m out of puns… they’re just racist – but have this charming völkisch veneer.

Some more help because the whole overhanging stuff is so unnecessarily precise, i.e. Deutsch/German. I can’t even. Basically everything is meant to balance out after all the procedure.

German Girl in America explains
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2l3H9DHNEw

German Politics: Elections & Voting In Germany | Meet the Germans
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiCZUN9mUqM

VIEL GLÜCK!

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