THE POLITICAL PAGE
Germany after the Federal Election
State of affaires: 30.9.2005
1. The Outcome of the Election
Elections took place on 18 th September. All opinion polls forcasted the obvious difference between the CDU and the SPD parties; the most important thing, however, was to find out whether a black/yellow coalition was still possible.
And then we had the first forecasts: and the shock spread out awkwardly among the CDU and the CSU supporters. A “landslide” happened – unfortunatelly, not for but against the union patries; finally, the end result showed only a shlight difference of 0.9 % i.e. 3 seats between the CDU (35.2%/225) and the SPD (34.3%/222). Of ourse, also this was like bloodshed (“the Union is the strongest force in the country”), but the results stayed as they were before: a disaster. On this election evening Angela Merkel was notably impacted by both shock and discouragement; It wouldn't have been a great surprize to see here crying - everybody sympathised with here.
On the other hand, there was jubilation in the SPD camp. Although, the goal of a Red/Green – Coalition wasn't reached -compared to 2002 the coalition suffered a loss of 4.2% - the reasons for these jubiliations was the 34.3 % figure which was far higher than the opinion poll based result had forecasted. Everybody knew: this was due to the Chancellor – and he knew it, too. And when feeling so good about this victory, his behaviour during the “circle of giants” - the evaluation talk of the party chiefs on the election evening – was the behaviour of a drunkard. He started to polemise and argue with journalists, he talked big and prophesied a continuation of the government, with him as the Federal Chancellor. This public appearance dearly later made him feel awkward, and 2 days later he personally stated that his performance had been less than the best – he called it “suboptimal”.
2. The Chancellor's Question
Still, he and his party strongly continued to assert their claim on the chancellorship. According to democratic conventions it is the right of the strongest fraction to propose the Federal Chancellor for elections in the parliament - this is what the Union insists on. The SPD points to the slight difference in figures, and especially to the fact that under Angela Merkel the Union lost approx. 10% of the vote in the last few months compared to the SPD which gained 8-10% in the same periode of time. The SPD says that this clearly shows that the sympathy of the electorate was with Gerhard Schröder. A high-power poker game, with all “rules“ possible, such as the baton change from Schröder to Merkel after 18 month occurred. The future negotiations will be very tough, because since the call for re-election of Gerhard Schröder the Chancellor's honourable retirement from office has become a main issue. We want this for him; also the CDU will contribute to his honourable retirement from office, but it remains unclear whether this automatically means that Angela Merkel will become the head of government.
Because, of course, she and everybody in the Union knows that she is responsible for the terrific defeat of the CDU, i.e. her position within the party has been weakend. Although 98% of her party is backing her, it does not mean that they do it out of enthusiasm for her person but out of the party's interests regarding its negotiations.
In order to avoid a further weaking of Angela Merkel's position in this power poker game, Christian Wulff, the primeminister of Lower Saxony who is favoured by many people, prophylactically announced that he will not be available as candidate for the chandellorship after Angela Merkel's possible retirement from office. Angela Merkel can patch things up if she asserts herself in this power poker and if she is able to appoint the best heads in her squad of ministers, thus leading a succesful policy with this cabinet.
3. The Defeat – Some Reasons
There were several reasons were given for the weekly relegation of the CDU and the CSU and for their early nose dive at the end.
3.1. The Left-winger
Even though it is normal for people who are not satisfied with the work of the government to switch over to the opposition, this time it was completely different. The protesting electorate was absorbed both by unrealisable but insight-full recantations of promises made by the left-wing parties.
In addition to this, the PDS was able to gain ground in the west of the country due to the fusion with the WASG; thus the PDS encrased several fold. In 6 western countries it reached a total of 5% and in the Saarland - Lafontain's homecountry - it reached a total of 18.5%. Reaching a total of 8.7% on a federal level, the party became the second strongest of the “small parties” with 54 seats, and is now ahead of the Greens (8.1%) and behind the FDP (9.8%). Compared to the last legislative period this means a plus of 52 seats. This is equivalent with the loss of the CDU (-23 seats) and the SPD (-29 seats).
On the election evening the gathered leadership of the FDP stood on stage beaming with joy over the 9.8% (+2,4 compared to 2002) their third best result since their party establishment. They ascribed this good result to themselves, but everybody knew that the result was the second vote of the CDU electorate which wanted to creat a balance between CDU/FDP - presviously this was called the “lending vote". The steadfastness the FDP showed as they stuck to their principle regarding the coalition –“Only in co-operation with the Union!” – was impressive - this was the reason why they didn't even accept explanatory discussions with the SPD.
3.3. The Strategy
The CDU based its election campaign on two themes:
The facts of 1000 daily jobs losses was placarded everywhere, and put on the Chancellor's plate. In addition, they made the following promise: the Union and the FDP will provide new jobs. However, everybody knows that politics can at best only provide work framework, but that only the economy can provide new jobs, and the economy had already made some promises.
Week by week “change“ became a blunted weapon, because people were listening more and more to the Chancellor; thus, the mood of a change was diffused.
The Union was not flexible enough to react to the changing situation. Also, the colours of the posters and advertising of the Union were tainted by boredom and honesty. Meaningful content, a sense of linguistic humour and creative power were missing in their posters.
“Honesty is the best policy“, said the vernacular. During this election however, there was a different reaction. Angela Merkel's frankness in announcing what will happen in future in order to improve the states treasury, e.g. 2% increase in VAT, was penalised by the “vernacular”. How mature do we as the electorate consider ourselves to be when it comes to this responsibility, i.e. the truth, we need to bear together? Are we still the infantile society which earnestly thinks Cockaigne is just around the corner…?
It was one of Merkel's legerdemain to suddently conjure up an unknown top man like Horst Köhler, for example. “The professor from Heidelberg“ could have also have helped her reputation grow if she had made plain to him from the very beginning what cabinet is all about and that this discipline determines the direction of the Union. So he talked and talked, and lectured his radical approach and he gave his adversaries one opportunity after another to shock the people as somebody walking through the churchyard at night.
3.6. Social Chillness
This was one of the weak points of the CDU/FDP programme. All reforms should have been promoted simultaneously and radically, without considering the ones who could not keep up with them; the social cutback and the cutback in subsidies – every expensive social network was to be removed. Effective, successful, profit-oriented – Germany is lead like a company.
They should have emphasised more about channels which things were to remain in their natural form etc. because of course, the SPD took notice of this weak points and stared to talk about the other party's social cutbacks and social coldhearted-ness day in and day out; thus, the mood tilted in their favour. Afterwards, Edmund Stoiber also talked about a “heartless language“. The CSU wants to emphasise their “S” within the Union.
3.7. A Woman
Opinion polls forcasted a “female advantage“ of up to 10% for Angela Merkel. It is obvious that she was elected by 24% of, women in the East and by 37% in the West. What was the reason for this? Angela Merkel didn't offer any emotional “footage” i.e. no possibility of identification. She tried (the same way as men do) to emanate guiding power (like an alpha animal), objectivity, and above all, the prospects for success – and this is where she became faceless, “the certain Merkel”. As a woman, and even as a person, she lacked a noticeable authenticity. It was Schröder who said about his wife in the TV-duell: “And therefore I'm loving her.“ Everybody loves to see a man fighting for his wife. In the election evening Angela Merkel (unintentionally) appeared very human, when sitting almost devastated and absent-minded in the “circle of giants” while putting up with the mocking of Schröder. Everybody was filled with compassion and able to identify theirselves with her at that moment. Unfortunatelly, it was too late. Angela Merkel didn't play off her female sympathy factor nor her special trump of being a German born in East-Germany. Frightened off by the initial suggestion to develop a separate concept for the election campaign in East-Germany she tried with all her might to be a “Chancellor for all Germans”. She would have been the only one who was able to carefully mobilise an East-German “we-feeling” - against the PDS - among the people in East-Germany and probably nobody would have taken this amiss.
Commentators such as, for example, the Rheinischer Merkur and the Süddeutsche Zeitung came to the conclusion that there were 3 basic types of successful female politicians in the past:
The “Iron Lady“ embodied by Margret Thatcher in Great Britain.
The radiant Scandinavians who clearly pointed to the fact that they are mothers and therefore need time for their family. Thus, the personal identification was made possible as well as the identification with the impersonal, the “Mother of the Nation”.
In a way - as a continuation of this role – we can also name Golda Meir from Israel who looked like a “Grandmother” and loved to gather the ministers around her kitchen table.
Angela Merkel has the air of a scientist who is able to deal very professionally with concepts and facts. “But whoever wants to win the election and then sends a female candidate into the ring will have to listen more carefully to the heart-beat of the electorate and to his own heart as well next time.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung 24./25.09.05).
But this is where the probleme was. On 22nd May there was no getting around Angela Merkel. Therefore, everybody supported her immediately – as has now again – because unity is the most important thing now. Although many weren't convinced by her, a frank discussion concerning this situation was taboo. Even Angela Merkel couldn't recede in this situation after aiming at this position since 2002. Despite the fact that this disasterous result is not decissive in this situation she experienced a great shock. Her professional skills as Chancellor were challenged at that moment. If she will realy become the Chancellor of Germany she will probably learn something from this lesson. This is how we see her.
4. Reactions from the economy
The expectantcy of a black/yellow governmental change was high within the economy and thus, also the hope for a rapid implementation of reformation plans in the employment market with more flexibility and more personal responsibility with reference to undertakings. An obvious elucidation and clarification of this gloomy situation was noticeable in the run-up of the elections. Immediately, the government made a claim about the first effects of their reform policy. The best results since December 2001 have been reported; the bottom of the valley seemed to be „walked through“, and handled finally. This proved that what happened finally was already noticeable after the great changes in 1982 (the change from Helmut Schmidt SPD to Helmut Kohl CDU) and in 1998 (the change from Helmut Kohl CDU to Gerhard Schröder SPD). After each change the gross domestic product was on the increase for 2 years. This is due to expectations about the economy! Therefore, the disappointment of trade and industry was big at first. “84% of the 822 entrepreneurs interviewed, said that the result of the elections was rather “negativ“. Almost every second entrepreneur plans to reduce his investments. In addition, new jobs will be made available in more than one third of companies.” (Rhein. Merkur, 22.09.2005 page 11). Indeed, this is what we were concerned about! Not the politics but the economy creates new jobs. What the politics can do by itself is only to provide for reliable frameworks and confidence in the market-place ”.
20 family-run enterprises with a total of 500,000 employees and an annual turnover of approx. 100 billion euros listed 15 points (during a symposium after the election), which should be kept by the new government if the government wants to achieve an upturn in the economy. Some of them are worth mentioning (FASoZ, 25.09.2005 page 42):
1) To show guiding ‘power skills'. 2) To decide which steps are to be implemented and in what period of time they will be implemented. 3) To implement the reformation of federalism. 4) To return to the enhancement ethics and not to the ethics of redistribution. 5) To provide a new offensive in education. 6) To promote future technologies. 7) To dare to launch a large fiscal reform. 8) To re-route subsidies. 9) To strengthen the privatisation offensive. 10) To reduce burocracy 11) To enable operational alliances. 12) To ease dismissal protection, and to enable the creation of new jobs. 13) To implement more personal responsibility in social protection 14) To provide an active family policy, and immigration policy. 15) To support the state in the fight against corrupcy, illegal employment and fiscal fraud.
Never before have the survey forcasts been such a long way from the election result as they were this time. Thus, the Infratest di-map and the election research team was 10.7 points off the mark; Allensbach 11.2, Emnid 12.7 and Forsa even 14.1 points. This once again shows the uncertainty of the electorate up to the very last moment. If we analyse the result more precisely we will find the following:
1. Observations regarding the political party landscape
Both large peoples parties are losing their bonding strength. In the 1970's the Union and the SPD had still 90% of votes. During this election they had scanty 70% of the vote i.e. the former large parties whith almost half of the votes have fallen back to a “third level party”. At that time the FDP was the only small party – the balance pointer for a majority—but now there are three small parties which require, and make coalitions in all directions possible. In the 1980's, the Green party was the 4 th patry to attract the protesting electorate but now, the left-wing parties have taken over this role. It has become obvious that large parties are pretty much subject to fluctuations, whereas small parties are relatively stable. Reason: They are geard towards a certain audience, an ambience which can identify itself with them – a thing which is disappearing more and more among large parties. This was noticeable in the last few years, when the SPD lost many votes, while the Greens remained stable. Therefore, they do not simply disappear, but rather assert themselves afresh with their clientel. This means that in future always two or if necessary even three parties, will have to form a coalition and rule together in order to form the majority.
The bourgeois block of the Union and the FDP will stand against the left-wingers in future. If the period of shame is over, and Gerhard Schröder no longer appears as a personal adversary of Lafontain on the political stage; it seems that from 2009 on an alliance will be formed from the social democrats and the socialst group. The Greens have recognised their strategical position for the future and announced that neither will they be in favour of the left nor the right, but that they are open to anybody who is able to implement their concepts. The left-wingers are taking over the role of the FDP in the impair 5 party system, namely the role of a balance pointer.
If the analyses of the establishment of new small parties out of the corpus of large parties by gearing towards a specific audience is true, then Christians that are aware of things will raise questions about a party which stands for the protection of christian values in the society and which preferably will exceed the 5% limit in order to be considered as being an attractive coalition partner. This is not questioning the fact that there are Christians involved in other parties and that their contribution there is desperately needed, but it raises the question after an effective, political lobby which has an impact on society and which stands for the protection of christian values. On the one hand this stimulates the parties with the „C-initial” and on the other hand it offers an alternative for Christians who consider the people's parties to be too wishy-washy.
Excursus: There are too many small parties which have the same point of view, and which would have distinguished themselves as representatives of this possibility. Until now, the Party of Bible Troth Christians (PBC) was the most successful party among them. This party mainly attracted attention through posters citing verses from the Bible. The programme of the party was noticeable as having a family theme, and being against abortion and homosexuality. The posters were more an invitation to evangelism than they were a contribution to a political debate. This “programme“ together with the exclusive name caused both its defense and rejection in many evangelical circles.
However, the conception of the PBC has changed without almost anybody taking notice of it. For this election they presented flyers which were addressing all political fields from foreign policy up to the energy policy, offering answers from a Christian point of view and developing new concepts. As a philologist I was asked to proofread this programmes – which I really enjoyed doing – because I was impressed to see how the PBC had been moulted into a political party. Regardless of the answers – the party framed itself as being a serious politcal party. The Impact: Although, they couldn't appear in all the federal states because they ran out of time, they received more votes than before. Now, they will only have to change their name. In my opinion, the attention should be moved away from the party supporters, to the programme of the party, for example, by calling the party the “Party for Biblical Christian Values” (PBCV).
2. The consequences of the large coalition
Basically, large coalitions are always temporary in a democracy because a healthy democracy survives only with a strong opposition. This was the case under the rule of Kurt Georg Kiesinger in 1966-69 and it will now be again the case. The Chancellor - whoever may take over this office - will exert his office temporarily.
The danger of a large coalition is stagnation due to continuious and neccessary compromises. Both partners of the coalition start smearing their profile more and more. This of course, frustrates the electorate of both parties, and bears the denager of a move of the electorate towards the marginal parties with their radical promises, but the strengthenig of the margines also endangers democracy - the reason for the collapse of the Weimarer Republic.
In our case a large caolition hinders the "regeneration" of the SPD. Explicitly: Since the announcements of the Agenda 2010 in Spring 2003, Gerhard Schröder had to fight for its implementation within his own party because of the hard indentions made, which were contrary to the original beliefs of the SPD to safeguard the weaker. Due to this fight, he lost his position as Chairman of the Party and finally even the Chancellorship. The tension between him and his his party was the reason for the dissolution of the Bundestag. During the election campaign Gerhard Schröder once again appeared as a comrade on the side of the Unions - and he caught up in popularity again.
If the SPD remained in the opposition, the party could return to its old values and form an authentic opposition i.e. represent all the values which got lost. This loss was the reason for the move of comrades towards the left-wing parties. Together with an authentic programme for the East, the SPD could possibly “dry up” large parts of the left-wing parties. If the SPD remains in the government, it will have to represent its Reformation Agenda, and enable the clear distinguishment of the left-wing parties.
In the long run – as I already said – a rapprochement of the SPD and the left-wing parties is on the cards. This means, that the Greens would more easily enter a coalition partnership with them instead of entering a coalition partnership with the burgeois block with its Christian values and its neo-liberal orientation.
Of course, large coalitions have also chances - namely, all projects which they immediately evaluate. In the case of precendent, the ferderalism reform is quite sure ‘in the bag' i.e. the relation between the national government and the federal states which needs to be redefined and on which Franz Münterfering and Edmund Stoiber already worked in the preliminary. The main concern is:
reduction of the number of federal states from 16 to about 6. They should be mixed in a way in which the richer and poor states merge together in order to enable an inter-state fiscal adjustment.
No extra election date for each state – a fact which always had an impact on policy in Germany – but one single date for elections.
The polictical rights of the Federal Council towards the government have to be re-difined, otherwise it will be difficult to govern and make fast decissions which are of crucial importance in this age of Europe and in addition “globality” will be retarded.
Likewise, the simplyfication of the taxation law will be carried out more easily together. Also the self-dissolution of the Bundestag should be re-regulated (Art. 6B of the Basic Constiutional Law of the Federal Republic of Germany) in order to spare the republic from a 4 th staging of this kind.
Because the issue is mainly about jobs, they will come back again to the plans of the “Job's Summit”. Harder but absolutely necessary is the continuation of the belt-tightening. This is where the conflict goes into details.
The enumeration of suggestions made by the family businesses (as mentioned above) offers many starting points for a joint intervention.
Anyhow, the large coalition – without Schröder and maybe also without Merkel – bears the chance to quieten the trenches of “civil insurance” against the “per capita lump-sum” without a loss of face in order to find a common way again.
Because the CDU wants the state's social protection to a certain extent and because the SPD also wants to continue its reforms, it should actually be possible to lead a good policy for a certain period of time with the good will, and the best minds available on both sides. Münterfering is refered to as the alternative for Schröder, and Stoiber and Schäuble are refered to as the alternative for Merkel.
3. Spiritual Assesment
Always, when we prayed for a political act such as the election, for example, by calling upon Jesus' name, when we submitted it under the sovereignity of the Lord - and when something completely unexpected happens as has happened now, when opinion polls and commentators where at a loss to understand the ‘going on' – then let us always pause for a moment, because this is when we are very close to God's quill (feather) which he uses when writing history. What happened?
Within a few weeks, Gerhard Schröder was involved in a mysterious race to catch up with the result of the CDU, out of his hopeless position. An almost magical radiation comes from this man and his publicity posters. In addition to this, people completely forgot that these theatrics were due to his refusal to represent the views of the left-wing parties as Chancellor in accordance with the Agenda 2010 – which actually is doing now. Is he again orientated towards the left now? But he continues to fight for the continuation of his reform policy, which wasn't supported and wanted by his party; the last few weeks were very foggy.
Angela Merkel said the truth when talking about her intentions and therefore she lost ground week after week until her landslide defeat in the darkroom of her polling booth. Although she recovered from the shock, she seems to have aged; and politically, the rug was pulled out from underneath feet.
The FDP triumphs – but this is kept away from government.
The Greens smartly disappear into the opposition, and Joschka Fischer, their figurehead backs out.
The real triumph is celebrated by the left-wing parties which gained 54 seats.
A tremenduous uncertainity on the election evening, chaos during the following weeks until the only possibility left becomes obvious – a possibility which nobody wanted - a large coalition.
This is hard to implement with the old politicians, who are symbolically fighting at the front. New faces need to be discovered in order to come to a peace agreement and a phase of cooperation.
This was the last result he as the Federal President wanted to have when suspending the parlaiment at the end of July. For the “good of our country” he wanted to cancel the stand-off between government and Federal Council, but instead he raised it to higher level. How does he feel about this?
The desire to interpret these scenes leads me to the following perception:
It seems that Angela Merkel is not called by God to be a chancellor. The process seems to be a step by step proof for her disqualification from office.
The era of the representatives from the 1960's seems to have come to an end. Fischer voluntarily withdraws from office; Schröder abides by the office for a while. Individuals are told appart from their party and are separated by this. Individuals and parties are obviously two different things before God and are addressed differently.
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.“ HE consequently knocked back Angela Merkel's superiority tirades in the parlaiment when the CDU still had 45%, He did the same with the “suboptimal” self-assessment of the Chancellor on the election evening. His triumph took a turn for the worse, as the whole nation was able to see his strange behaviour.
On the other hand Christian Wulff, a man who talks clearly but never arrogantly about his enemies, is being promoted in opinion polls.
It would have been an other alternative for the Federal President to let the Schröder government run the office for one more year. The weaknesses would have been so obvious this year that a discussion about a change would have probably been needless. The result of the election would have probably become very clear. Due to a slow clarification, the left-wing party would have probably already fallen out with itself in the run-up of the elections.
And, in my opinion, even the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court regarding the competences of the Chancellor was wrong.
I consider that the perfect chaos afterwards was God's judgement on us. The outcome was much prayer and repentance.
During this time of judgement, God is leading us towards a solution which nobody wanted. But - with much prayer from our side – he transforms it into a blessing.
The more balanced the actions of the new government are, the more the left-wing party will be hindered in its distinguishing features.
The blessing of his love for Germany can also mean that he uses an interstage of a large coalition with its softened reforms, in order to bring our nation on a new stage, which would have probably been too high to achieve at the first go.
It is a wonder to see how God contecutively judges and directs, and how he always achieves the aim he has in mind. Blessed are we as individuals and as a people, if we immediately obey him and if he can directly achieve his aim with us.
Adortation is given unto you, God of heaven and of earth, because you rule and nothing slips out of your control. Adoration for your wisdom which is above our understanding but by which you achieve your aims amazingly.
Thanks , for ruling the world with clear and obvious benchmarks and for making us able to recognise them in today's policy.
Thanks , for the prevelege to have a good democratic state system and that democratic elections are no problem for you to implement your will. You are the “sovereign“ because you “directs hearts like the watercourse”, and you set up “kings” and deposes them.
Thank you because we are able to trust in your love for Germany even though we have sinned and even when you punish us with the rod of chaos, leaving us to our own will and its consequences.
Kyrie eleison! Lord, have mercy on us!
We pray specifically into the political situation:
Thank you Lord that the phase of the 1960's with its disregarding of values has come to an end. Lord raise up “fighters“ who are able to reestablish your values and rules among the people.
Thank you Lord for this large coalition. Let all the good things possible be implemented in this time. And God, prevent all the negative things which could happen in future.
We pray for the right people: an able Chancellor who rules by your mercy, and in humbelness; we pray for a Minister squad to be formed out of the best people of both parties; people who look upon you during their work and who will make their oath based upon you.
Now we proclaim the perfect and godly clarity within the negotiations of this coalition, in decisions regarding the personnel and the first 100 days of governmental work. We do this despite the foggy and party strategical furtiveness; despite all personal vanity and harm caused by political personalities.
We submit the new parlaiment, all the deputies and the parties under your mercy and under Jesus' control especially the left-wing party in order to understand what God is about to do with the new party he has allowed.
We bless our country in the light of the love of God with the spirit of boldness, and the confidence to start new things and break up again with a new mentaliy, with a new climate of hope, i. e. the expectation of good in all the changes.
Sources : Süddeutsche Zeitung 20., 24., 26., 27., 28.09.2005 Frankfurter Allg. Newspaper 25.9. Rheinischer Merkur 22.09.2005.
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