THE POLITICAL PAGE

September 2005

From directional election to destiny election

Introduction

In 1843 when he was on the run and after living in exile in France for 12 years, Heinrich Heine wrote a poem. The first verse starts with the well-known words:

“If I think of Germany at night,

I'm lost to sleep,

No longer can I close my eyes

Hot tears are running down my face.”

It's a troubled song of great yearning.

I have just had a call from my friend in Switzerland, a call from a heart in great distress, a call to a unity prayer meeting on the Bundesplatz, at the Parliament in Bern. What's wrong with our country? Why are so many things heading the wrong way? Where are the prayer warriors?

This letter is something I felt in my heart, because there is something about Germany which is burdening me more and more since some weeks. There is something which is not related to the political debate – which would be normal for the election campaign; there's something which is somehow hidden and still controlling everything. I feel there is a battle going on for the future of our country. We should boldly take our stand and fight for it with persevering and continuous prayer. According to the Bible, prayer is the only effective way to withstand such spiritual pressure and to break its power.

Spiritual pressure does not always have the same power. In Eph. 6, Paul says that “when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground”. Then it is important to respond rapidly with our spiritual weapons until the pressure is weakened and the light shines through again.

I'm asking all those who aren't aware of this dimension of faith to simply overlook this statement. But all those who can relate to it, please stand up, take a stand for your country, and in faith proclaim the victory through prayer over Germany; the victory of Jesus, the Risen One, and exalt him in worship. Jesus is the Conqueror!

I'm asking everybody, sincerely, to pray right now for Germany – individually or in groups – for the will of God to be done in our country, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. Pray in order to bind and destroy any other will or plan.

Information

1. The course of action

In the evening of the 22nd May 2005, when the devastating defeat of the SPD (the Social Democratic Party) was clear, the chairman of the party, Franz Müntefering, and the Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, announced their intention to call for an election in the autumn. Confronting the Federal Council, where the CDU is the dominating party, Gerhard Schröder wanted a new mandate from the people to carry through his ‘Agenda 2010'.

According to the Basic Constitutional Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, neither the Chancellor nor Parliament can suspend the Federal Diet. Only the Federal President can suspend the Federal Diet and arrange elections if — because of an threatening vote of confidence — the Chancellor asks for it.

This vote of confidence was put to the Chancellor in the parliament on 1 st July, the last day before the Parliamentary summer recess. And, after the party chairmen had attacked the coalition day in and out, he lost with a large majority. Immediately after this, the Chancellor asked the Federal President to suspend the Parliament. Of course, he couldn't mention the blocking policy of the Federal Council as the reason. Instead, he claimed he could no longer count on the majority of his own party in the implementation of his Reform Policy. In fact, his party members had assured him of their support a few days before.

After the previous policy farce in 1973 and in 1982, it is now our third policy farce. Everyone was anxious to see how Köhler, the Federal President — he had only three weeks to study the request — would decide in this matter. This was an open matter, especially in this President's office.

On Thursday 21st July, the Federal President announced his decision: “Today, I have suspended the 15th German Federal Diet and arranged for elections on 18 th September… Given the problems which need to be resolved, the Chancellor considers that, in the long term, the loyalty of his coalition isn't solid enough … According to the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1983, the Federal President has to consider the Chancellor's evaluation… to see if there is no other assessment of the situation at the moment which is better than that made by the Chancellor… In my estimation of the entire situation, I came to the conclusion that an election serves the best interests of our country.”

For many people, this decision was unexpected. But many others were expecting this decision, and all the parties were enthusiastically working on their election manifestos and finally presented them.

Although Köhler protected himself legally with the Basic Constitutional Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court from 1983, his decision was politically motivated. Although he formally agrees with the Chancellor's evaluation of the majority in his party (“in the long term”), the decisive thing for him “in his estimation of the overall situation" was the fact that an election is the best cure for the country now. This is neither a political, nor a judicious decision but it means that, in other words our country is not doing well and elections will, hopefully, improve the situation. The Chancellorship may have heard this message.

Surely the Federal President was advised and counselled by many people in this question. He may also have prayed over it. However, with this decision, the President has — I say this respectfully —

•  Accepted the political farce of the Federal Chancellor, caused by the troublesome vote of Müntefering, the chairman of the SPD (Social Democratic Party). If he had delayed his veto – which according to the Basic Constitutional Law he was allowed to do – great upheavals would have occurred but it would have been clear that there are laws in this country which still apply today;

•  He has not even ordered the parties to take their time and to think twice about their party platforms: all of a sudden the SPD has issues in its platform such as, for example, the 3% tax on wealth which could not coexist with the reform policy of the Chancellor. It seems rather as if the SPD is hoping to form the opposition. The CDU manifesto would have also need to mature. (Financial backing for the proposals);

•  He tied the parties down to their current candidature decision. They would have probably presented different candidates in one year;

•  Above all, an “induced delivery“ of the left wing party would have been necessary, though the place of the president which — despite all their differences — would not have outlived the extended birth process (assumption!).
The Federal President surely referred to this when he concluded his speech with the following words: “Dear fellow citizens, now it is in your hands. Please, look at it very carefully. Democracy means, to have the choice between political alternatives. Make carefully use of your right to vote.“

The Green's deputy, Werner Schulz, and the deputy of the SPD, Jelena Hoffmann — both originally from East Germany — presented their complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court. Due to past experiences of political manipulation in East Germany, they didn't want to accept this new manipulation. On 25 th August, their complaint was rejected by the Federal Constitutional Court with the note that the Court was not in a position to decide whether the situation is the same as the one that preceded it. The Basic Constitutional Law wasn't being violated. Only one judge out of seven expressed the opinion that the Chancellor could have carried out his term of office. Thus, the election campaign will continue and election will take place on 18th September.

The problems of this short election campaign are the headlines and short-cuts in the people and issue-profiling, as well as in its debates. So it is important to compare the two party manifestos and form your own opinion by weighing up the alternatives.

2. The Parties' Manifestos compared: (Please, ask for the special edition if you are interested in it )

2.7. The Family Policy (details)

These two questions are important to all the parties:

•  How can couples be encouraged to have children?

•  How can children be protected from the "trap of poverty"?

The left wing parties are acting with different urgencies. They are assuming that the most important factor is the compatibility of job and family for women. So they want to use public funds to establish public day-care facilities for children, and fulltime schools, increasing the general "legitimate claim" of parents (left-wing party).

The Union parties are directing their offer increasingly towards the maintenance and the furthering of the father-mother-child-family (the media calls it the “conservative family”). The party offers a tax exemption for each family member of about 8000 € p.a., plus a pension exemption for parents, i.e. for each child they pay 50 € less into the pension coffer each month.

In his essay in 1999, Paul Kirchhof, the former constitutional lawyer, proposed an “upbringing salary” of 2000 DM a month to encourage parents to form families with children.

It would be good for all parties to look at the results of the Forsa study – a survey done in October 2004 among childless adults who do not want to have children. It is very obvious that only 9% wanted day care facilities. The questions were only ranked 16 th , out of 18 answers arranged in percentage levels. Those who didn't with only 11%, were ahead on this issue: “Because I don't want others to look after my child.“

The following 3 answers are the front-runners:

•  Because I don't have an adequate partner (44%)

•  Because I'm satisfied with my life even without children (44%).

•  Because today you can no longer be sure about keeping your job and whether you can afford another child (39%).

This is where the real starting points of the family policy become obvious:

•  A new appreciation of the traditional family view with its life-long responsibilities and securities between two partners.

•  Higher taxes on the beneficiaries of this carefree society.

•  The provision of employment opportunities with sufficient incomes to keep a family with children.

A demographically effective family policy is not so much a matter of money; it is a matter of values, of the right family view and of security for mother and child. This is not “conservative“ but it is very relevant for the future, especially when taking into account the latest opinion poll and the 25 years since 1968 — the year in which the destruction of families began. When will we again review this issue in a realistic, rather than ideological way?

This is one of the key questions of this election campaign!

3. The alternatives

If a national election had taken place one week after the announcements (i.e. on 29 th May), the CDU would have won as it won in North Rhine-Westphalia. Nobody knew the exact policies of the CDU but everybody wanted a change. Now the intentions of the CDU are known: they are for the cancellation of subsidies, for a 2% increase in V.A.T. and for a job-dismissal protection which applies only to companies with over 21 employees. You can feel it: the CDU plus the FDP — this would mean; ‘The Agenda 2010' Mark 2. R R eadiness for change is declining, the majority percentage is crumbling more and more. ”To say the truth first“; is Merkel's way to cash in on the situation — which is right, no doubt. The propagation of an idea is desperately missing. What is needed along side it is a vision of a New Germany, a view which takes hold of people's hearts emotionally and makes them willing to make sacrifices.

More and more, it is obvious that Merkel, the lady candidate, is no crowd puller, no person to inspire the country with “she will fix it” confidence. Although the prime ministers of the states have voted unanimously for this lady for the Chancellors office, no-one wants to on her team — except Müller from Saarland — the smallest state in the country. Nobody knows whether Edmund Stoiber's cuts about East of Germany were imprudent gaffes, or if they even had an internal party component. Anyway, Stoiber's indecision about whether to stay in Munich or support Angela Merkel in Berlin has weakened the impetus of the ‘modernisation image' the CDU wants to communicate.

Merkel brought her strength to bear again when, all of a sudden, at the presentation of her advisory team she “conjured up” new and good people — especially the tax expert, Paul Kirchhof. From now, on the left wing parties are no longer the main point of discussion; they are replaced by the tax plans of the Shadow Minister of Finance. A plus for Merkel.

On the other hand, we have the SPD with a Chancellor who brought the country to a historical all time low of 30% through his reformation plans of ‘The Agenda 2010'. His decision to ask for elections caused a split within his party, although his intention was to unite it. On the one hand the SPD was still the ruling party. Officially it has to act on its reforms. But, on the other hand, the SPD leadership knows that it has to mobilise its regular voters. In order to do this, it has to shift to the left. But a new party has been formed there. And the so called left wing party has all the social promises any uncommitted citizen might desire. It can make these promises because it knows that it doesn't have to deliver on them. Thus, all the people left in uncertainty, all who are furious about the people “Up there”, protesters of all kinds. But the voters of the PDS — the old communists in East Germany — also vote for them. The fusion of an Eastern party and a Western initiative, is to form a new German party, as well as a leadership comprising the two most gifted populist of our country, explain the surge towards this new left wing party. With approximately 9% of the vote, it is now the strongest party in East Germany. (State of affaires 29.08.2005)

In past elections, people who were frustrated and protesting could take their pick of opposition parties. This will hardly be the case in this election. The frustrated left wing voters will not vote for the CDU but for a left wing party.

Due to the appearance of the left wing party as the 5th power, only a slim majority is likely for one of the two coalitions — unless, the left wing party drops back again to 5%. In the long-term, the appearance of the left wing party will substantially disrupt the democratic pattern in Germany, and could even harm it under certain circumstances.

4. Which are the possible coalitions?

4.1. If the Red-Green coalition unexpectedly wins a majority, a new legitimating of the voters would indeed be on the cards. But the tension between the government and the Federal Council would continue and the Mediation Committee would continue to act as a secret cabinet in a large coalition.

The continuation of his reform policy, the Agenda 2010, which is being persistently promoted by Schröder, would stagnate due to the leftward hop his party has taken in the election campaign.

Nevertheless, industry and the economy as a whole will continue to recede, and so the stagnation in the country will not end. The values of 1968 would continue.

4.2. The Red-Red-Green combination was definitely excluded, once again, by both the governing coalition and the left wing party. Having Lafontain as a partner at the cabinet table is an unreasonable expectation – at least for the next legislative period. The worst thing that could happen to the left wing party is to be forced to react and be forced to put their money where their mouth is. This test of their great ideologies was the reason why Gysi cleverly made use of the frequent flier miles affair in Berlin in order to “back out of the affair”. When he realised that his idea wasn't working, Lafontain immediately discarded it. Thus the Red-Red-Green coalition is a theory, nothing more.

4.3. The Red-Yellow-Green (traffic light) was also rejected by all participants. “Commonality with the FDP is not an option”, say the Greens.

4.4. The most likely coalition is the Black-Yellow-Coalition. It would have the unique advantage of a party-political rapport with the Federal Council. It could therefore really act on the reforms. This would certainly have an impact on the economic performance and it could set the industrial wheel in motion again thanks to new investments. The crucial thing for the future is whether the economy, and also the people, will have confidence in the government. Angela Merkel's decision on the people she will choose for her cabinet, and the level of competence and confidence she emanates, despite the fact that she is endowed with only a little charisma, will be crucial.

4.5. A last combination could be the Black-Red-Coalition (“The Large Coalition”). All politicians view this as an emergency solution, in case other combinations don't emerge. Nevertheless, the Large Coalition is supported by many people, because they believe that only a large coalition could cope with the country's present huge problems.

This is right when you consider the number of proposals in the Federal Diet, but it is wrong when you look at the work on the cabinet table. The only thing which can be done actually is to find a cumbersome compromise; one which will not satisfy any of the partners. Above all, it will not satisfy their own party supporters. They will eventually turn from their party and towards the extreme protester. A large coalition holds great danger for the future; that all the fringe parties will experience a strong popular surge.

If the SPD again forms the opposition, it has an opportunity to rediscovering its social identity and to win back ground lost to the left.

Up till now there were only a few splinter parties on the right wing. Also, these parties were without an effective spokesman. This has radically changed with the emergence of the left wing party which is led by very eloquent leaders. Many protesters, mainly in the East, did not want to support the “left wing parties” because of their divisions. ”The left wing parties“ are now respectable — and discontented voters are flocking to them. And all of a sudden the left wing parties and the right wing parties are getting close to each other.

Out of this “camp election”, the left wing party has made a “destiny election” for Germany. If the strong surge towards this party continues — which means that it will require a large coalition — the democratic structure of our country will be changed on the middle-term.

But if the government governs well, if the economy gets off the ground, if new jobs are provided, if peoples' confidence grows again and if new undertakings are given reliable frameworks… the left wing party could disappear as fast as the Schill Party disappeared in Hamburg.

Background

1. Politically

1.1. So the election will take place on 18th September.

The Chancellor's coup has worked:

•  The question he asked about the present confidence has been unanimously negated — under pressure even the deputies of the own party negated it; and Parliament has been steamrollered;

•  The Federal President has to read the situation where all the parties have already plunged into the election campaign. The power of reality blocks his liberty. He has joined the Chancellor's assessment of the situation;

•  The Federal Constitutional Court has joined the opinion that the previous constitutional body might have been right – and they also agree.

A chain of decisions, in which each accepts the vote of the previous one. The opinion of the Chancellor was presented at the beginning and all other bodies have aligned themselves with it. All commentators point to this circumstance and to the fact that - against the Basic Constitutional Law of the Federal Republic of Germany - the power of the Chancellor has not been weakened but instead strengthened. This was already the case with the verdict of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1982, and that one was a greater farce than this one is now.

1.2. Actually, what motivated the Chancellor is this clever manouver – as far as one can discern it:

Conclusion: They are all arguments of a personal or of party nature.

Anyhow, as far as I can see, the good of the country isn't a primary motive in this contest.

Although it is obvious that the Federal President joins with the Chancellor on most of the questions, he says that the reason for his decision was indeed the “good of the country”. It is good to see that, on this question at least, the President aligns himself with the people and their well-being and not only, as the “sovereign” – which is the way the Chancellor sees it. History will prove if he was right.

1.3. The actual dilemma of this election campaign is that most of the electorate want a change, but there are no visible and effective alternatives. Actually, people can choose for the reform of the Union and the FDP, but the only thing that is sure is that their support of the poor is not as effective as their support of the well off. The promise to create new jobs sounds frightening hollow because of its endless repetition. Their intention to confront Gerhard Schröder with his promises from 1998 will have a boomerang effect on them. “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you,” says Jesus. At this point, modesty would be more realistic and it would inspire more confidence.

There is no alternative, not even in the candidates, and nothing has been spotted yet. Maybe the Schröder-Fischer duo will catch up. Angela Merkel is very gifted, assertive, and able to make the best decisions about the candidates … surely she is capable of much more too? But she is neither an ‘Iron Lady' nor a ‘Mother of the nation', she speaks to the intellect with rational arguments… but the crowds need an “emotional banner” if they are to feel confident following her.

1.4. The worst thing is that there is no one at the moment who can give the people a vision of a “Germany of tomorrow”; a vision which takes hold of their hearts emotionally, a vision which makes us willing to make a sacrifice.

The right wing extremists offer this emotional vision: it gives people the feeling of a perfect world. But it is the world of the day before yesterday.

The left wing party inspires emotion and shows the way back to the world of yesterday; a world in which everybody had a job, the economy was flourishing and everybody was wrapped in three or more social blankets.

But where is the party which is willing to make a stand? Who is able to speak about a tomorrow and a day after tomorrow? And about a world which is worth living for? People need to feel there is a hope. Sacrifices need to be bought with tangible results; results which are believably achievable. Otherwise people will refuse to stand up and be counted.

2. Spiritually

With the end of the Red-Green model on 22nd May, the spirit of the 1968 generation has also come to an end. Various commentators have spoken about it. So Schröder's coup marks, spiritually, a desperate attempt by this “spirit” to put all his eggs in one basket and not resign yet, if possible. But nobody could know that this coup would give birth to a spiritually even more dangerous structure; one in which the West German spirit of 1968 will merge with the communist spirit from East Germany: a brew with a double dynamic, a potentially great danger and attraction. This constellation brings new quality to the political debate: agitation and hatred on both sides emerge, and fears within all parties and worries within the whole system. A kind of confusion, a cackling in a henhouse, and the emergence of a frantic restlessness among the politicians and the people. The media is quick to exploit this situation. What the secular world calls “to rough up“ is, spiritually, called “a Diablo's messing up”. No clear naming, no clear knowing. That's the way it is.

Two other movements come with this structure and make the spiritual profile even more obvious.

On the one hand an irresistible power of seduction, represented by the two heads of the movement, is joining this structure. With promises, challenges and one-sided presentations, that verge towards falsehood. And people are blinded by them, even if they don't agree with them. On the other hand O. L. uses the words and ideas of right-wing extremists when he speaks about “guest-workers”; and on the opposite side, the right-wing extremist electorate in the East of Germany seem to be interested in the left wing party. Is it possible that the two parties which so hated one another, who were like fire and water in the Weimar Republic, could converge now?

PRAYER

Outwardly—what is it all about?

Try to gather information. Keep yourself up to date.

Bring everything you have heard and seen before God in tears, prayer and repentance. Pray, pray!

•  Try to understand what is happening in the spiritual realm when you pray, tell other people about the impression you have, and pray.

•  A national day of prayer and fasting is arranged for Friday the 16 th September. Some people will keep on praying until Sunday evening. Please enrol in this prayer day.

•  Bless the election and pray for the truth to be revealed.

•  Go and vote. Encourage others and arrange for the disabled and elderly to vote. If you are asked who you are voting for, tell them, and why. Check if you can help as a canvasser in the election.

•  Bless the polling stations with the presence of God.

•  Important! Each elector has two votes. The first vote is for the candidate you want to choose. The second vote is for the party, which could be a very small party for example. The candidate you voted for must not be a member of the party you think is worth being supported.

Biblically - what is it all about?

All prayers for politics stem from the fact that God controls history. He has a perfect will for each situation. It is not our duty to manipulate God but to feel what is important to God and to pray for the manifestation of the good will of God. We are not God's advisers but preparers of His way.

Therefore, worship God first in his power, love and glory (see the prayer below).

It is always a matter of the spreading of the kingdom of God throughout the world: “Your kingdom come.“ The Kingdom of Heaven appears wherever the will of God is done: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.“

What is the general will of God for his world, and what is the will of God for Germany now, surrounded as it is by election roars?

•  that his commands will be obeyed again;

•  that the values he gave to humanity to enable them to succeed will no longer be perverted and ignored, but loved and lived again;

•  that falsehood and manipulation will be revealed and that truthfulness and faithfulness will give back to the people a sense of security;

•  that all diabolical machinations will be brought to an end and be doomed to failure.

Daniel 2:21 “He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.” Therefore, we pray that the people who are after God's own heart will be in the top positions and placed in key positions. Women and men who ask for God's ways.

Ps 33:13.15 “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; he forms the hearts of all.” An important sentence: Democratic elections are no hindrance to God to carry out his will. He forms the hearts. He can change the trends of today and tomorrow.

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer!“ There is a lack of all three things in Germany:

•  of a hope which makes one joyful, a vision which takes a hold of one's heart;

•  of patience in times of pressure and tension. We need to learn to see things through again;

•  of faithful prayer, because this is the basis for our joyful hope and patience in difficulties.

Introduction to prayer: The glory and worship belongs to You, we lift our hands up, we lift up Your Name for You are great, Your wonders are great, great, there is none like You for You are great.

We bow down before you, Almighty God, in reverence, in praise and adoration. We acknowledge You alone are the one who is right, to You belong the glory and honour and thanks from eternity to eternity. Amen.

Yes, Almighty God and loving Father, let us see Your work in the world, Your miracle working power, Your great deeds in order to praise and worship You for Your works. Work through us and in us, because Your will is full of love and wisdom. Come to us in love, we pray to You. But if we disobey Your will, we and all those who are leading us, then bring us back to You, even with “strokes” if this is necessary to make us turn to You and repent. O God, cast us not away from Your presence as people, good Father and Almighty God. Glory and honour be unto You O God in the highest. Honour and power to the One who rules over all. Amen.

Ortwin Schweitzer

Sources : Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.07.2005; Frankfurter Rundschau versch. Nr.; Talkshow Sabine Christiansen ARD 14.8.05; G. Rohrmoser, Versagt die CDU? Brief commentary 14.08.2005; Christians choose values. Wahlprüfsteine der Deutschen Ev. Allianz; HÖR ZU from July 2005.

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