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Thread: German Federal Election 2017

  1. #76
    Senior Contributor Triple C's Avatar
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    German wisecracks and gallows humor are greatly underappreciated.
    All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
    -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

  2. #77
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    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.
    So basically they're knowingly going on a Potemkin tour.

  3. #78
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    Election of the new chancellor (Merkel) is planned for next wednesday.

    SPD:
    Ministry of Finance (current CDU) - Olaf Scholz
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Heiko Maaß (currently Minister of Justice)
    Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs - Hubertus Heil
    Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection - Katarina Barley (currently Minister of Family and commissionary Minister of Labour)
    Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth - Franziska Giffey
    Ministry of Environment, Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety - Svenja Schulze

    Heil is general secretary of the SPD; Barley used to have the same post. Scholz is the minister-president of Hamburg state. Schulze and Giffey hold various lower posts at state level.

    CSU:
    Ministry of Interior, Construction and Homeland (current CDU) (rebranded Interior Ministry) - Horst Seehofer
    Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure - Andreas Scheuer
    Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development - Gerd Müller (keeping his office)

    Seehofer is minister-president of Bavaria. Scheuer is general secretary of the CSU, and held a parliamentary state secretary post in the same ministry from 2009 to 2013.

    CSU also already nominated their state secretary for Digitalization - Dorothee Bär - who has already been faced with heavy criticism over her industry-friendly leanings against data protection in particular in the context of the EU General data Protection Regulation becoming law in two months.

  4. #79
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Heiko Maaß (currently Minister of Justice)
    Concerning this appointment, is there generally a broad consensus between the SPD and CDU/CSU on foreign policy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Concerning this appointment, is there generally a broad consensus between the SPD and CDU/CSU on foreign policy?
    Other than some fine details here and there overall there's a broad consensus on that, yeah. SPD tends to be a bit more hawkish on Turkey for example, and more tight on export control; on both issues these differences were a bit more heated during election campaigns, but should smooth out during the normal administration.

    Unlike his predecessor - Sigmar Gabriel - Maaß will not become Vice Chancellor btw. Instead Scholz will hold that post.

  6. #81
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    Other than some fine details here and there overall there's a broad consensus on that, yeah. SPD tends to be a bit more hawkish on Turkey for example, and more tight on export control; on both issues these differences were a bit more heated during election campaigns, but should smooth out during the normal administration.
    How do the SPD and CDU/CSU principally differ in their policies and approaches regarding Turkey?

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    How do the SPD and CDU/CSU principally differ in their policies and approaches regarding Turkey?
    It's somewhat complicated and mostly crystallized during the election campaign - basically, the SPD wanted to cancel the EU candidacy status of Turkey (Schulz explicitly promised that if he were to become chancellor), and effectively wanted to pressure Turkey on diplomatic relations. Merkel was more reserved about that kind of thing and wanted to try an economic angle instead while keeping diplomatic lines open. The SPD also has a marked public anti-Erdogan position criticizing his regime and calling on Turkey to free certain political prisoners (e.g. HDP opposition party politicians) - and does that in cooperation with The Left. The CDU is quite a bit less publicly anti-Erdogan, at least the leadership.

    Within the SPD, Maas has been a proponent of Schulz' hardline approach and in fact already pushed for pressure on Turkey before the election campaigns kicked off, whereas current foreign minister Gabriel - who is being kicked off the government by the SPD - has been heavily criticized recently on allowing weapons exports in exchange for prisoners (or at least that's how it was perceived). Maas will likely soon fall in line with Merkel though in his new office.

    Beyond Merkel, there is a CDU backbencher faction led by the military-background hawks in the party (in public mostly retired Colonel Roderich Kiesewetter, foreign policy specialist within the CDU Bundestag faction) which supports the SPD position and who at some point in summer last year proposed even harsher measures in escalation, such as freezing assets of the Erdogan family worldwide and pushing Turkey out of NATO.
    Last edited by kato; 09 Mar 18, at 17:18.

  8. #83
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    How much does the refugee crisis and the Turkey-EU agreement on the matter have an impact on moderating Merkel's policies from being too anti-Erdogan?

    I might be asking a question with an obvious answer here, but couldn't it be said that it's easy for the SPD and Greens to be critics, snipe from the sidelines, and make political hay during the election, while the CDU/CSU have to take a more "measured" and "practical" approach as they're the principal governing party?

    I'm not sure if I'm reading this matter correctly or if it's an accurate perception, but it seems to me that there's a silver lining in Merkel having Maß as foreign minister - taking one of her most critical opponents on a high-profile foreign policy matter to see if he would put his money where his mouth is (Worten Taten folgen lassen), and effectively neutralize him when he clearly will not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    How much does the refugee crisis and the Turkey-EU agreement on the matter have an impact on moderating Merkel's policies from being too anti-Erdogan?
    Not much at all. It used to by an obvious factor back in 2016, but even after Erdogan threatened to cancel the agreement one time back in March last year it barely made the press beyond a few OP-EDs along the lines of "what if he'd do that". Turkey receives a considerable amount of money due to the agreement, and while that has kept the issue rather low-key on the Turkish side as well, more recent developments have led to Merkel and her group of people advocating for effectively cancelling the German component of it, thus backing out of it.

    There are in fact quite a number of similar low-key turning points where the government has begun putting pressure on Turkey in a subtile manner in similar ways to that. Basically just enough so that when called out on supposedly "not doing enough" they can publicize such a turning point and point it out as something where they've done something. That's basically just how Merkel rolls, and how she does it on about every political topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    I might be asking a question with an obvious answer here, but couldn't it be said that it's easy for the SPD and Greens to be critics, snipe from the sidelines, and make political hay during the election, while the CDU/CSU have to take a more "measured" and "practical" approach as they're the principal governing party?
    Nah, the backlash for politics falls back on both governing parties; that's the special thing of a Grand Coalition, both parties get the blame equally (it's less the case if it's a coalition with one of the other parties). With foreign politics, as that's a SPD department, it tended to fall heavier on the SPD side too.

    As for the snipe from the sidelines, the primary sniping is between the extreme camps. We've got Left Bundestag members wearing Kurdish flags as shawls in sessions, while AfD Bundestag members claim any support for Kurds is terrorism - they pretty much use Erdogan's rhethorics in that.

    The Greens don't really do foreign politics these days at all, and neither does the FDP for that matter. As in, i'd have to really dig deep to find a noteworthy foreign policy statement from the Greens, and the only noteworthy one from the FDP in the last months is their foreign policy spokesman pretty much calling on the government to hand over external representation to the EU.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    I'm not sure if I'm reading this matter correctly or if it's an accurate perception, but it seems to me that there's a silver lining in Merkel having Maß as foreign minister - taking one of her most critical opponents on a high-profile foreign policy matter to see if he would put his money where his mouth is (Worten Taten folgen lassen), and effectively neutralize him when he clearly will not.
    That approach would backfire to some extent. The chancellor has something called Richtlinienkompetenz - "guideline competence" - which means that she steers the cabinet in its politics. While Maas can emphasize particular points in his office through his words and actions, he'd have to follow Merkel's guideline in that - and people know that.

    Here's an (english language) article on Heiko Maas in his new job btw: http://www.dw.com/en/heiko-maas-who-...ter/a-42898811
    And one on the future vice chancellor: http://www.dw.com/en/olaf-scholz-the...try/a-42491906

  10. #85
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    Not much at all. It used to by an obvious factor back in 2016, but even after Erdogan threatened to cancel the agreement one time back in March last year it barely made the press beyond a few OP-EDs along the lines of "what if he'd do that". Turkey receives a considerable amount of money due to the agreement, and while that has kept the issue rather low-key on the Turkish side as well, more recent developments have led to Merkel and her group of people advocating for effectively cancelling the German component of it, thus backing out of it.
    Isn't the German government afraid of another refugee wave, or do they believe the situation has settled and is stable enough where it wouldn't be a problem on the scale it was a couple years back? What is Erdogan's most likely move if the government were to cancel the German part of the agreement?

    Nah, the backlash for politics falls back on both governing parties; that's the special thing of a Grand Coalition, both parties get the blame equally (it's less the case if it's a coalition with one of the other parties). With foreign politics, as that's a SPD department, it tended to fall heavier on the SPD side too.
    That approach would backfire to some extent. The chancellor has something called Richtlinienkompetenz - "guideline competence" - which means that she steers the cabinet in its politics. While Maas can emphasize particular points in his office through his words and actions, he'd have to follow Merkel's guideline in that - and people know that.
    Does the Richtlinienkompetenz then overall genuinely reflect a mixture of policies from both parties in the case of a Grand Coalition? Or maybe an alternate way of putting it, does Merkel cede the formulation of, for example, foreign policy to the SPD, and the guideline competence reflects that?
    Last edited by Ironduke; 11 Mar 18, at 13:39.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Isn't the German government afraid of another refugee wave, or do they believe the situation has settled and is stable enough where it wouldn't be a problem on the scale it was a couple years back?
    It's mostly an interior politics matter - family reunification between Syrians in Germany and their family in refugee housing in Turkey. Basically, that's currently on a hiatus for anyone with only subsidiary protection (95% of Syrians in Germany) with the CDU and CSU deeply opposed to restarting it for fear of a political backlash; the SPD meanwhile at least forced through a regular reunification of 1,000 people per month in the coalition treaty, which while it's a drop in the sea for the 400,000 people who have applied for it at least represents a foot in the door.

    The policies of major parties have changed in this regard realistically. If Erdogan were to force a refugee wave we'd likely attempt to force him to accept repatriation of refugees - to Turkey. At least partially. And then probably accept others as "hardship cases" beyond the above 1,000.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Or maybe an alternate way of putting it, does Merkel cede the formulation of, for example, foreign policy to the SPD, and the guideline competence reflects that?
    The consensus is typically laid down in the coalition treaty; overall foreign policy fills 20 pages of it (that includes 3 pages on defense and 3 pages on foreign aid). The SPD foreign minister can pretty much handle the regular work in accordance with what's laid out there, with the coalition treaty laying out some red lines agreed upon, and some policies mutually acceptable. For example in the case of Turkey, visa liberalisation is a red line where the conditions are not negotiable; for comparison for relations with Ukraine the language on possible financial support for Donbass does give a lot more room for interpretation.

    What the Richtlinienkompetenz pretty much decides is how to handle developments deviating from that, or not foreseen.

  12. #87
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-coalit...-it/a-42242741

    Germany's coalition agreement: What's in it?

    Refugees/Family reunification: The previous government (also a CDU/SPD grand coalition) had suspended the right of refugees with a "limited protection status" to bring their families over. The new coalition deal says this will be limited to 1,000 people per month. On top of that, the number of asylum-seekers taken in altogether is to be capped at between 180,000 and 220,000 per year.

    Europe: The parties underlined the importance of European Union reform and said Germany wants to work closely with France to protect the eurozone from global crises. The new government would be willing to pay more into the EU budget, while the parties stressed that budgetary discipline remains crucial.

    Defense and development: The coalition agreement is vague on this point, committing to spending an additional €2 billion ($2.46 billion) on "international responsibility" and mid-term plans to invest roughly €9 billion more, but the topic remains a contentious one between the parties. Any investments in development will be tied to increased defense spending.

    Arms deals with Saudi Arabia: The paper also included a phrase that might be seen as a breakthrough for Germany's anti-arms trade activists — "The government will with immediate effect not approve any exports to countries as long as they are involved in the Yemen war."

    Top tax rate: The CDU and SPD are not planning any more tax hikes. The SPD had been pushing for an increase from 42 percent to 45 percent.

    Solidarity tax: The special tax instituted after the reunification of Germany in 1990 to help support the former East of the country will be gradually reduced. This is a compromise in a debate that has been running in Germany for several years.

    Health insurance: Here too, the SPD failed in its bid to establish a "citizens' insurance" that would guarantee basic health care standards for both state and private patients. Instead, the two sides pledged to restore parity between the contributions from employers and employees.

    Housing: The two sides have agreed to a new construction target of 1.5 million new apartments in Germany by 2022 — an ambitious goal, given that the current rate is only around 280,000 a year.

    Glyphosate: A small but significant gain for the SPD here. The two parties agreed to ban the use of the controversial pesticide, which is thought to be responsible for killing huge insect populations across Europe in the past few years.

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    On the first bullet item, there isn't a cap for asylum seekers in the coalition treaty. Instead it reads:

    Wir stellen für die Zuwanderungszahlen fest, dass sie basierend auf den Erfahrungen der letzten 20 Jahre sowie mit Blick auf die vereinbarten Maßnahmen und den unmittelbar steuerbaren Teil der Zuwanderung die Spanne von jährlich 180000 bis 220000 nicht übersteigen werden.

    We determine for immigration numbers that based on experience of the last twenty years and looking at the agreed measures and the directly controllable immigration component [the overall number] will not exceed the span of 180,000 to 220,000 annually.

    As in, overall (net) immigration, not asylum seekers. And no capping, i.e. no cutting off people coming in once the span is exceeded - it's simply a statement. Net immigration in Germany was on average within that span over the last 20 years, and it's broadly the indication from before the current wave (immigration to Germany has always run in waves, where we're on the dropping side of the hill right now).

    Edit, PS: The waves for illustration.

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    Last edited by kato; 13 Mar 18, at 17:41.

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    Merkel was reelected today in the Bundestag, getting 91.2% of the votes of the Grand Coalition. Getting less than the full support from her parties isn't that unusual for Germany. It's a sign of internal resistance from her own party pretty much.

    The below diagram shows what percentage of those deputies who in a coalition numerically exceeded a majority did not vote for the chancellor candidate who was voted in. Generally, this "warning sign" disapproval increases when a chancellor is reelected, and decreases if a chancellor has prevailed against resistance (Brandt in 1972, Schmidt in 1980) or switches coalitions (Merkel in 2013). Brandt and Schmidt are both remembered as "approved" candidates in the population too, i.e. they exited their administration on a positive note (even if both had to step down prematurely).

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    P.S. if someone wonders about Schröder's first result - he got more votes than his coalition had.
    Last edited by kato; 14 Mar 18, at 13:35.

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    One of the AfD representatives received a fine of 1,000 Euro for photographing his filled-out voting card ("no") and thus violating the secrecy of the election.

    The same guy - a Czechoslovak asylum seeker - was under surveillance by domestic intelligence with court approval until being elected btw due to being an Identitarian.

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