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Thread: German Federal Election 2017

  1. #61
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    You need 354 seats - out of 707 - to form a government (or rather, to elect a chancellor*). SPD/FDP/Greens (Traffic Light) would have 299.

    What the FDP has rejected is a Jamaica coalition i.e. CDU/CSU/FDP/Greens. This would have 392 seats and therefore a majority. The FDP's chairman Christian Lindner rejected Jamaica likely out of the marginalization that would come with it; not only would they suffer the voter share squeeze-out that Merkel subjects minority partners to but in addition they'd have to compete with both CSU and Greens over relevant posts and policies. Given they've just reentered parliament* he likely first wants to consolidate the FDP at a sizable voter share, and you can best do that from the opposition bench.

    The FDP dropped below the 5% hurdle in 2013, also got slammed out of state parliaments, and only participates in three state governments right now - CDU/FDP coalition in Northrhine-Westfalia, CDU/Green/FDP in Schleswig-Holstein and SPD/Green/FDP in Rhineland-Palatinate. Compared to the Kingmaker role that the FDP used to have up until ten, fifteen years ago this is an extremely weak and vulnerable position, in particular as CDU/Green coalitions as "another option" have become socially acceptable as well. Some crucial elections in 2018 - e.g. Bavaria in autumn - are places where the FDP wants to keep its current share in surveys in order to gain a Kingmaker role against an opposition bench that now includes the AfD.

    Current surveys btw - as of today - see the SPD slightly stronger than in the election and the FDP and Greens pretty much switching places with the Greens as strong as AfD (at 12%) and the FDP at 8% as the smallest party (short of CSU) in parliament.

    * In the first two rounds. Third election round a traffic light coalition could win with a minority candidate subject to approval from the Federal President.
    Last edited by kato; 15 Jan 18, at 20:33.

  2. #62
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    Kato

    So what's the straight story on what is happening there? Is there a new government? Will there be new elections. Listening to the reports on the radio today I am still confused.
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  3. #63
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    There's no new government.

    Basically, SPD, CDU and CSU in top-level talks have finally found a consensus on forming a Grand Coalition, and have hashed out who would get which ministerial posts and how they would like to govern, what kind of laws the new coalition would want to pass based on each party's preference and so on. The Coalition Treaty Proposal has 177 pages and 8366 lines including which party gets which posts.

    However, on the SPD's side this is highly contested, with the entire left wing of the party against it and the party leadership barely finding a majority for it among themselves. As Schulz has promised it will therefore have to be approved in a caucus among all listed SPD party members (about half a million people, with a cut-off yesterday evening - people who become members after that don't get to vote). This caucus will be held on February 20th to March 2nd, with those people getting the coalition treaty proposal mailed to them and then voting on it.

    Until a new government is formed Federal President Steinmeier has decided to use Article 69 of the constitution, which forces Merkel to continue her previous administration - she can't quit her job unless the President approves. During this time she can't reorganize her cabinet of ministers (or rather: can't take in new ministers, and the President can overrule her on sacking them), the President can remove both her and her cabinet at any time by presenting a chancellor candidate and having the parliament vote on him/her, and - though that's less formally, more convention - laws and bills proposed by the government should not be longterm (hence why e.g. Bundeswehr deployment mandates only got extended by 3 months in January instead of the usual 12-24 months).

    If the SPD member caucus rejects the coalition - and that's not that unlikely, chances are 50/50 - we will probably have new elections about 2-3 months later. There are some other options - e.g. the President could find an independent candidate that finds the approval of the majority of the parliament (... chance: 0%), or the president and parliament could approve a minority government of a candidate that has the support of the largest share of the parliament (very slim chances of that happening).
    In particular the Young Socialists, the SPD youth organization which all party members under 35 are part of are vehemently against it - to the point where the head of the Young Socialists is currently planning a campaign tour against the coalition treaty proposal to start this friday.

    Merkel's CDU is a bit more... traditional. As in authoritative. However, they'll also have a vote on it. Not by all party members, but at least at a party congress - which takes place on February 26th. The Young Union - youth organization of CDU - pretty much forced this against Merkel, it's not something they'd usually do.

  4. #64
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    Regarding posts: The government consists of 14 ministries, the head of chancellery - of minister rank - and is additionally supported by five "state secretaries" in key positions (which aren't part of the government, i.e. don't sit at the cabinet table). In the current, last coalition treaty the CDU holds five, CSU three, SPD six ministers and the head of chancellery is mandated either CDU or CSU. The state secretary post are used to round out numbers between the parties, with the CDU holding three and the SPD two, while the CSU doesn't get any (two of these state secretaries, one each for CDU and SPD, were not mentioned in the coalition treaty).

    Compared to the current government the SPD basically gets the Finance Department and hands the Economics Department over to the CDU. The CSU would get the Interior Department from the CDU and hands over the farmers to the CDU. SPD loses the State Secretary for Migration and Refugees (not a minister) to the CDU but gets the second State Secretary of the Foreign Department from the CDU in return (previously they had only had one of two there). Effectively the numbers therefore stay the same, but the responsibilities would change quite a bit.

    The exact composition of those responsibilities is relatively interesting as they point out just how interested the CDU is in getting the SPD to work with them. With the finance department they're pretty much handing over the one that controls the purse strings of everyone else, and with that second state secretary in the foreign department they hand over full control over exterior politics - that one CDU state secretary was in that post to keep their fingers in there.

  5. #65
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    Thanks

    That makes things a whole lot clearer!
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  6. #66
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    CDU party congress last monday approved the coalition treaty with 97% of the 975 delegates voting in favour.

    Result of the SPD referendum is planned to be announced on sunday.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    CDU party congress last monday approved the coalition treaty with 97% of the 975 delegates voting in favour.

    Result of the SPD referendum is planned to be announced on sunday.
    Any idea of what the breakdown will be as to which party gets which ministries, besides those already known?
    Last edited by Ironduke; 02 Mar 18, at 06:10.

  8. #68
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    Breakdown in the coalition treaty proposal, with changes to the current administration noted:

    CDU:
    Ministry of Defense - Ursula von der Leyen (keeping her office)
    Ministry of Economics and Energy - Peter Altmeier (currently Head of Chancellery)
    Ministry of Education and Research - Anja Karliczek
    Ministry of Health - Jens Spahn
    Ministry of Nutrition and Agriculture (current CSU) - Julia Klöckner
    State Secretary of the Chancellery - ?
    State Secretary of Culture and Media - Monika Grütters (keeping her office)
    State Secretary of Migration, Refugees and Integration (current SPD) - Annette Widmann-Mauz

    Jens Spahn and Julia Klöckner are both from the ultraconservative wing of the CDU, basically replacing the influence of that wing that Wolfgang Schäuble as Minister of Finance previously fielded. Anja Karliczek is a representative of the Young Union, the under-40 wing of the CDU and pretty much a newcomer to politics at this level. Annette Widmann-Mauz is chairwoman of the Women's Union, the sorta-feminist wing of the CDU (well, to whatever extent feminism exists within the CDU). Widmann-Mauz and Peter Altmeier are considered to belong to the pro-Merkel faction within the CDU, as does Helge Braun (see below, Head of Chancellery) and to a rather limited extent Ursula von der Leyen.

    Spahn, at 37 also a Young Union representative, is largely considered Merkel's main enemy within the CDU with the necessary influence to become potentially dangerous to her - sort of the "next generation conservatives"; within the ultraconservative wing he's occasionally considered somewhat of a controversial figure since he's an openly gay politician and himself married his boyfriend last year.


    SPD:
    Ministry of Finance (current CDU)
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
    Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
    Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
    Ministry of Environment, Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety
    State Secretary of Foreign Affairs (#1)
    State Secretary of Foreign Affairs (#2) (current CDU)

    CSU:
    Ministry of Interior, Construction and Homeland (current CDU) (rebranded Interior Ministry)
    Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure
    Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development

    Chancellor and Head of Chancellery fielded by "CDU or CSU". The deputy chancellor is fielded by the SPD.

    Head of Chancellery is a minister-level post comparable to a Chief of Staff for the Chancellor's Office and also has the federal intelligence services in his portfolio. Designate Head of Chancellery is Helge Braun, previously State Secretary for ... uh, federational affairs or something like that within the Chancellery. The post he previously held is being eliminated, with the previous lower-rank Secretary for Intelligence Service Coordination post being raised to the above "State Secretary of the Chancellery".

    The state secretaries in the above are "minor ministers", i.e. heading particular departments within the administration but not considered part of the government and sort of subordinate to the minister of their department. The three state secretary posts that the CDU gets are subordinate to the Chancellery. They mostly act as official representatives for German interests in their field at EU level.

    Edit: Added prospective ministers by name for CDU, as Merkel has already announced them. CSU wants to announce their chosen ministers on the 5th, SPD on the 12th of March.
    Last edited by kato; 02 Mar 18, at 19:55.

  9. #69
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    Having the AfD in the Bundestag is making sessions funnier.

    Yesterday the AfD proposed to anchor German as the national language in the constitution, outlining that they think officials should not offer assistance in any other language (there's a similar issue among some conservatives in the US about Spanish, i think). There were similar proposals from conservative circles in the CDU before, so "defending" against the proposal is a bit complicated.

    Aside from the topic itself, the next speakers:
    • #1 (CDU) points out the slew of non-German words and grammar mistakes in the AfD proposal, and offers the assistance of parliamentary services in writing such proposals ... with a AfD rep interjecting that if they are making such mistakes, wouldn't it be important to anchor German as national language so they would have to do it right in the future. The speaker has a Dutch-German migration background.
    • #2 (SPD) does much the same in highly stilted High German with zero anglicisms and no dialect at all, and after pointing out that when as a teen he used to tutor others in German he didn't think he'd have to do the same in parliament. The guy has a Turkish-German migration background. Quotes Goethe. And then ends his speech in a Low Ripurian dialect sentence.
    • #3 (FDP) opens his speech in Latin, later after interjections from AfD reps calling the French constitutional national language bill "an absolutist heritage".
    • #4 (Left) then opens with greeting a guest from the French Parliament - in Spanish, mentioning that that is their common language. She has a Spanish-German migration background. Closes with a Heinrich Heine quote.
    • #5 (Greens) starts in Low Bavarian dialect, and mentions the status of minority languages ... and "those Upper Palatinans who no one can understand".
    • #6 (CSU) basically points out how the proposal is proof that the AfD wants to install an authoritarian regime. Like the first CDU speaker she also points out that the AfD itself advertised in Russian in their election campaign and has a Russian-language party programme. Closes with Goethe quote.
    • #7 (SPD) holds 80% of his speech in East Friesian / Low German, an officially acknowledged regional language spoken by 2.5 million people in North Germany (a separate language, not a dialect) - before apologizing to the stenotypists for making their job a bit more difficult. As a note: i only understood about half of it.
    • #8 (CDU) as the last speaker - from Baden-Württemberg state - after the parliament president presents him saying "i assume you won't speak Platt to the same extent" replies that he's glad to be allowed to speak on this topic as a Swabian, citing the state motto: "We can do anything - except speak High German". Only to then be the first speaker to actually address the AfD proposal and previous similar CDU proposals on a legal basis (he's a professional judge), pretty much taking the AfD proposal apart and closing by calling it unconstitutional.
    Last edited by kato; 03 Mar 18, at 09:41.

  10. #70
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    ....and people think Germans don't have a sense of humor. Thanks Kato, that was a good laugh. Having idiots in the Parliament can be funny....provided they don't hold the balance of power.


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  11. #71
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    #7 (SPD) holds 80% of his speech in East Friesian / Low German, an officially acknowledged regional language spoken by 2.5 million people in North Germany (a separate language, not a dialect) - before apologizing to the stenotypists for making their job a bit more difficult. As a note: i only understood about half of it.
    I'm sure some Dutch guy watching understood the other half. :-)

    #5 (Greens) starts in Low Bavarian dialect, and mentions the status of minority languages ... and "those Upper Palatinans who no one can understand".
    I knew there was a reason why my attempts at conversation in German with an ex-Amish grocer never really go anywhere.

    #6 (CSU) basically points out how the proposal is proof that the AfD wants to install an authoritarian regime. Like the first CDU speaker she also points out that the AfD itself advertised in Russian in their election campaign and has a Russian-language party programme. Closes with Goethe quote.
    For the Aussiedleren, I assume?
    Last edited by Ironduke; 04 Mar 18, at 07:59.

  12. #72
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    SPD referendum:
    66.02% Yes
    33.98% No

    at 78.93% of all SPD members voting.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    For the Aussiedleren, I assume?
    Yeah. About 5% of the German population are first- or second-generation Soviet immigrants, with only 44% of them considering themselves predominantly "German" by surveys. AfD scores around 50% among them.

    Germany only acknowledges one regional language - Platt, in the North - and four minority languages spoken by distinct ethnic minorities who have lived in Germany for centuries; those four are Sorbian spoken by about 30,000 people in the Lausitz district (colonized in the 13th century with the locals and their language suppressed), Danish spoken by 50,000 people in those Danish areas annexed in the 1860s, Friesian spoken by 10,000 people on the islands west of that (most people there emigrated after the annexation) and - not tied to a particular area - Romanes spoken by about 60,000 Sinti (i.e. settled Roma who have lived in Germany since the 15th century). In those areas where minority languages are spoken you also get bilingual signs, education in the language in schools, being able to handle all official matters in that language et cetera.
    Platt as a regional language is spoken by around 20-25% of the population in the coastal states, with about half of the population in those states while not speaking it still being able to understand it. All "other" variants of German are considered dialects of either High German or Low German.

  14. #74
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Strange, the following AfD members are reported to be in Damascus:

    Udo Hemmelgarn, Thomas Roecke, Harald Weyel, Christian Blex, Juergen Pohl, Frank Paarmann, and Steffen Chris

    kato, you have any idea what that's all about?

  15. #75
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    According to Blex they're scouting the area on whether Syria can be considered a "safe country", i.e. one where asylum requests are automatically denied, as well as the general humanitarian situation in the country. His first post on Facebook after arriving is along those lines. As in: "entry was unproblematic [...] barely any military in the streets [...] normal everyday life". Same group within the AfD (not all the same guys) previously visited Crimea; Christian Blex was the leader for both groups.

    Some have called their visits - both of them - "pro-Russian propaganda tours".

    Blex is a member of the state parliament AfD faction in Northrhine-Westfalia, as is Röckemann (Roecke in your list).
    Weyel, Pohl, Hemmelgarn, Christ are members of the Bundestag.
    Paarmann doen't hold any office.


    P.S.: It's not as unusual as it may seem. Back in 2014 a Bundestag member of the Left party visited the Kurdish areas in North Syria just before the Siege of Kobane.
    Last edited by kato; 05 Mar 18, at 17:19.

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