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2021 German Federal Election

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  • 2021 German Federal Election

    Since we had a lengthy thread on the last one, here's one for this year.

    The election this year - held on September 26th, six weeks from tomorrow - is sort of a generational change. The main point about that is that Angela Merkel, after her now 17 year tenure as chancellor, is "retiring" and no longer available as a candidate.

    There are in my opinion three main topics that impact the election somewhat:
    1. Merkel's succession
    2. The handling of the Covid crisis
    3. The handling of the floods last month
    The first one is mostly a blunder among Merkel's Christian Democratic Union. They basically did not have a single solid, accepted candidate in place, and internal infighting once Merkel told them to do it themselves took care of the rest. Their candidate now - elected in April - is Armin Laschet, minister-president of Germany's most populous state Northrhine-Westfalia. His main competitor for the candidacy was Markus Söder, minister-president of Bavaria. In surveys among CDU/CSU voters half the people would want the candidacy to be switched to Söder. Laschet is running a somewhat lackluster campaign without any particular focus on a topic and he's been accused of avoiding clear positions.

    The cluster topic of Covid is ... complicated to say the least, since it is mostly about a bunch of minor topics, none of which have really grabbed the population to rally for or against.In recent surveys 80% of people are in favor of keeping current mask rules, 70% are reasonably satisfied with the vaccination campaign and 50% would actually prefer harsher lockdowns. There have been state elections in recent months which have shown that lockdowns and such do not impact voter decision that much, although some minor voter movement will stem from that. The overall topic is considered ambiguous though since we don't know where the pandemic will stand end of September.

    The third topic is a bit wider-reaching than it sounds, and involves both climate and environment topics as well as crisis reaction by authorities. Politicians have largely successfully weathered this so far, so the crisis handling part will likely not play too much of a role; the environmental aspect allows the Greens to tank a bit, offsetting losses in voter confidence that they incurred through their own infighting and little scandals in recent months.

    Current projections foresee:
    • CDU/CSU - 24.1% (-8.8%)
    • Greens - 19.4% (+10.5%)
    • SPD - 18.6% (-1.9%)
    • FDP - 11.9% (+1.2%)
    • AFD - 10.9% (-1.7%)
    • Left - 6.9% (-2.3%)
    • Others - 8.2% (+3.0%)
    Amalgated from four surveys published this week (Infratest Dimap, FG Wahlen, INSA, Kantar).

  • #2
    The environmental aspects of the flood seem to not have given the Greens enough of a push.

    In recent surveys the SPD has overtaken them again and is edging in on the CDU - in some surveys actually pulling equal. When asked directly about chancellor candidates Scholz (SPD) would win at 34% over Baerbock (Greens) at 13% and Laschet (CDU) at 12%. Overall 59% think Scholz would be a suitable person for the post of chancellor, for Laschet it's 28% and Baerbock 23%. It should be noted for that question that Scholz is actually Merkel's vice chancellor now, so he has a bit of an advantage.

    The SPD gains are largely an effect of a currently weakening CDU since Laschet seems to be lacking a distinct political vision and mostly engages in pandering to all kind of conservative groups individually. Exterior politics (read: what's going on in Kabul) seems to not impact these surveys yet, but may do so by next week. CDU and opposition parties are jointly attacking Foreign Affairs Minister Maas (SPD) over it right now. Scholz is still managing to sidestep questions in that regard, but it is already a topic.

    The current survey results are relevant insofar as mail-in voting for the election in a month is already starting now and with the pandemic most people will cast their votes that way (in other elections since the pandemic started the mail-in vote share was over 50%).

    Current survey amalgation:
    • CDU/CSU - 22.5%
    • SPD - 21.3%
    • Greens - 18.0%
    • FDP - 12.5%
    • AFD - 11.0%
    • Left - 6.8%
    • Others - 7.9%


    • #3
      Laschet's newest blunder involves visiting a coal mine. Nice pictures in the mine, face sooty from coal dust, sorta joining the miners in their daily conditions. Except: He's the only one in the picture with that coal dust in his face. Everyone around him is perfectly clean.

      It's a blunder in particular since during the floods just six weeks ago there was at least one journalist exposed who apparently thought she didn't look dirty enough for a disaster zone and thus grabbed down to the ground to throw some dirt on herself. Camera was already running though.


      • #4
        Originally posted by kato View Post

        Current survey amalgation:
        • CDU/CSU - 22.5%
        • SPD - 21.3%
        • Greens - 18.0%
        • FDP - 12.5%
        • AFD - 11.0%
        • Left - 6.8%
        • Others - 7.9%
        Is there any chance of a right wing or left wing coalition; i.e. CDU+AFD+FPD or SPD+Greens+Left?

        Or are the AFD and the Left still shunned from governing coalitions?


        • #5
          TL;DR version : Left coalition possible, AFD not.

          Long version below:

          For SPD, Scholz has stated that he would only form a coalition with parties that "avow themselves to NATO and a strong European Union" and "can properly manage money" (... he's currently Minister of Finance after all). He sometimes changes the wording a bit, but it's pretty much these two conditions.

          SPD splits itself into three factions, the right-wing-conservative "Seeheim Circle", the reformist "Berlin Network" and the traditional-keynesian "Parliamentary Left". The "Parliamentary Left" - currently the strongest of the three groups, with 71 out of 153 SPD parliamentary reps - openly strives for a coalition with the Left, while the "Seeheim Circle" is fundamentally opposed it. Scholz's statement above is basically intended to appease both sides, while not explicitly placing him in a position where he states he's in favour or against such a coalition. There has been some speculation about whether internally the SPD could make coalition talks with the Left also dependent on how strong the "Parliamentary Left" SPD-internal group would be in the next parliament.

          SPD already in 2017 did not explicitly exclude a coalition with the Left, unlike in elections before that. With regard to some particular points (taxation, minimum wage) the party has also shifted some of their politics distinctly leftward in recent years, away from the pro-capitalist rightwing positions the party still had under Schröder 15 years ago and only somewhat moved away from in its coalitions with the CDU.

          The Left's position with regard to NATO has changed a bit in recent years, and is currently more of a gaullist one (leaving military structures of NATO instead of leaving NATO). The main reason for this pivot is that Sahra Wagenknecht, somewhat representing the more extremist traditional-communist platforms within the Left, is no longer head of the Left faction in parliament since 2019.
          The current chancellor candidate of the Left has stated that "leaving NATO" would not be a required condition for a coalition treaty, although there is of course still some opposition within the party to that. In addition we will soon see the first time (in the last 30 years!) that the Left does not vote against a military deployment mandate - for the current Kabul evacuation; the party leadership has decided to recommend (non-binding) to its representatives that they should abstain instead of voting against.

          The Greens have made similar statements to the SPD in recent months, i.e. not excluding a coalition with the Left, but tieing it to rather similar conditions.

          For CDU, the most recent statement by Laschet - after a state election in June - about the AfD was "with those guys you don't talk, you don't cooperate, you don't form a coalition".

          The leaderships of both FDP and CSU have in the last year issued statements to the same effect. The CDU also has a formal position paper and multiple formal decisions at federal level that they would never form a coalition with either the Left or AfD.

          For conservative parties the problem is that AfD after all cuts into their own voter share by presenting similar conservative politics with a more extremist, absolute viewpoint. Hence an effort to distance themselves in order to not present the AfD as an "option" to their own voter base. There are some groups in particular within the CDU - such as the non-formal "Values Union"/"Werteunion" - that do hold positions virtually congruent with the AfD, and it's basically about keeping these down while not losing them. There are also surveys of the CDU voter base however that see this path as the right one for the party, with typically between 83 and 92% approval among CDU and CSU voters for the fundamental opposition to cooperation.
          Last edited by kato; 25 Aug 21,, 12:21.


          • #6
            Originally posted by kato View Post
            In addition we will soon see the first time (in the last 30 years!) that the Left does not vote against a military deployment mandate - for the current Kabul evacuation; the party leadership has decided to recommend (non-binding) to its representatives that they should abstain instead of voting against.
            The vote was yesterday. Of the 69 Left party representatives in parliament 5 voted yes, 7 no, 43 abstention (explicitly), 14 did not vote.

            There are of course now voices in the SPD and Greens about those 7 no votes. However, these come explicitly from Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the SPD - and member of the right-leaning Seeheim Circle -, Nils Schmid, foreign policy representative of the SPD faction - and leaning in the direction of the Seeheim Circle - as well as from Cem Özdemir, representing the "realist" right wing of the Greens. We're however not hearing any accusations in that regard from either the SPD or Green leadership of course.

            The no voters - the vote was by name - can be confined to a circle of people supporting former Left party chief Wagenknecht that is essentially the parliamentary group of the "Anticapitalist Left" platform within the Left.

            Overall support for that particular mandate (regulating the German evacuation of civilians from Kabul since Monday) as a bill brought forward by the government looked like this, otherwise mostly showing that the AfD also has distinct separate wings that can not be brought in line:
            Click image for larger version  Name:	result-kabul.jpg Views:	0 Size:	84.3 KB ID:	1575657
            The rightmost circle in the bottom row (10 people, "fraktionslos") are independents.
            • Eight of them were originally voted into parliament for AfD (including two of Frauke Petry's "Blue Party")
            • One had been voted in for CSU (left the party after he was charged in court for corruption - getting 1.2 million Euro from a company for organizing mask sales to the goverment - and for tax fraud)
            • One was originally SPD (now sole parliamenary representative of satirical party PARTEI).

            During the same session parliament also voted on request of the government to establish that the pandemic situation is ongoing. Result for that was:
            Click image for larger version  Name:	result-pan.jpg Views:	0 Size:	93.0 KB ID:	1575658
            I think we can see quite clearly here which ones are the government parties (green = yes) and which are the opposition parties. The motion proposed by the government - and signed off by their supporters in parliament this way - was to give the government more powers for the duration of the pandemic, and was therefore opposed by everyone else.

            AfD and FDP basically voted to "end the pandemic" (AfD because they don't think it exists, FDP because it's hurting business), Left and Greens accused the government of failing to use the powers it already has and attempting to erode parliamentary primacy by asking for more.
            Last edited by kato; 26 Aug 21,, 14:06.


            • #7
              It's been so long....

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              • #8

                Last year, when discussion was on about whether Markus Söder would become chancellor candidate for CDU and CSU magazine Spiegel actually considered this title cover which used the same sentence as a question - they did refrain from printing it:

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                And yes, that is actually Söder - he once dressed in drag in a Marylin Monroe costume for carneval in 2013.

                The ad with Scholz in that Tweet is basically the answer to that "almost" title cover.


                • #9
                  Jeezus, Kato....let me finish my coffee before dropping that stuff in front of me!!!!
                  “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                  Mark Twain


                  • #10
                    Spiegel does the survey amalgation too now, so here's a nice graphical chart showing how that went since January:

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                    Nicely shows the visible gains of the SPD in the last four weeks.

                    There will be state elections in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the same day.

                    For Berlin you can basically take the above federal chart and switch CDU and Greens, and FDP and Left and you'll broadly get the numbers there. A continuation of the current Red-Green-Red coalition there would be possible comfortably, although SPD has already put conditions on that (Greens and Left support a referendum to expropriate some real estate companies, which SPD doesn't want followed up on even if it is successful - there is a narrow 47:44 majority in favour of it in the population, the referendum will be held the same day).

                    In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern survey see the SPD gaining massively to reach 36%, and both FDP and Greens probably in parliament, with a Red-Red coalition narrowly possible (they've had one before there). The SPD minister-president in the state wants to wait for the election before talking about coalition options.


                    • #11

                      SPD has overtaken CDU in surveys quite clearly by now.

                      Click image for larger version  Name:	elec.jpg Views:	0 Size:	55.7 KB ID:	1576125

                      For the Union differentiating a bit: The CSU in Bavaria under Söder is doing rather badly in recent surveys - they're down to 29% approval (about 4.7% federally). Their 2017 result of 38.8% (about 6.2% federally) was already their worst since WW2.

                      Laschet by now is focusing his campaign on what we call "Lagerkampf" (i.e. confrontation of political sides) and enlisted Merkel to make a speech in his favour - in their opinion currently the only options are between "a CDU-led alliance for stability" or a "SPD-Green coalition that tolerates being supported by the Left".


                      • #12

                        A bit interestingly for something new there's a minor change to the election laws in that villages with less than 50 votes cast on-site will not be counted out separately but thrown in with neighboring villages to be counted there. Such villages also have the option to combine their electoral district with the neighbors beforehand, i.e. requiring their residents to travel. With the expected high number of mail-in votes - those count separately - it is considered likely that a good number of small villages will fall below the threshold.

                        It mostly affects a few hundred villages in Rhineland-Palatinate in the Eifel volcanic mountain range on the Belgian border, a few dozen small islands in the North Sea and - as the main thing - effectively the vast majority of the countryside of East Germany due to their low population.

                        Due to this final results on election day may be a bit delayed as cast votes in villages with too few voters will have to be transported by car or in some cases by ship even - and will be dependent on weather.

                        It also means that we will no longer get the "traditional first result" on the news - the independent island of Gröde in the Wadden Sea with around 10 people eligible to vote is usually the first district to be counted throughout the country. This year they've decided not to have a separate voting booth, people on the island have to vote by mail or by travelling to another nearby island. In 2017 the largest party on the island was the Pirate Party at 33.3%.

                        The reason for the change is not - as sometimes claimed - increased efficiency but instead protection of the secrecy of election (i know, other countries don't hold that up that high). In hamlets like Gröde of course everyone knew who voted for whom, thus exposing voters to things like peer pressure and possible ostracization. There has been some opposition to the change, mostly from people who engage in exactly that.


                        • #13
                          The satire show extra3 has converted the election into a comedy sketch about "the voter" in a speeddating event meeting the parties wooing for her vote.

                          Part 1 is CDU, SPD and Greens, Part 2 is Left, FDP and AfD. Automatic subtitles incl. English translation work on both, even if some meaning is lost here and there.

                          • CDU is the guy who has no problems paying "with his business connections", but also has his problems "moving out from mom's place" and laughs at the wrong moment.
                          • SPD is portrayed as the small, middle-aged man who admits he'd "do it with anyone", also is "two-faced" and has the motto "if you don't do anything you don't make mistakes".
                          • Greens are portrayed as constantly stumbling, verbally and physically intrusive and obnoxious, have "adapted" to mainstream to get votes, and are "flexible in all directions".
                          • FDP has commitment phobia and whenever asked how he wants to achieve something just answers "the market will handle that".
                          • AfD tries to impress with a "i'm so normal and average" and "hope you like the place" - but immediately switches to attacking a guy at another table with racial slurs and randomly tells the voter what they should be afraid of and that they can't say their opinion.
                          • The Left tries to tell how she wants a fair, socially just world for several minutes while being completely ignored by the voter.
                          • "Others" also come up for a round, but the voter immediately tells them no.


                          • #14
                            Hmm...must suck to be a German voter right now. So many incompetents to choose from, so little time.
                            If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Monash View Post
                              Hmm...must suck to be a German voter right now. So many incompetents to choose from, so little time.
                              Imagine. So glad we don't have that problem.

                              Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C