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2021 German Federal Election

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  • #46

    The state parliament election in Berlin (not the federal election, on the same day) is ending up in court. The official overseer managing the election filed for the judicial review herself today when the official end result was published, immediately before stepping down from her post. Two parties - AfD and PARTEI - also announced that they'll contest the election.

    The election in Berlin was fraught with mishaps mostly stemming from underestimating the number of people voting on-site instead of mailing in their vote. Election offices ran out of paper ballots, and resupply from other places was hindered by the city scheduling the Berlin Marathon the same day and closing streets for it. Some confused officials also handed out the wrong ballots (there were three parallel elections in Berlin that day, with non-overlapping voter population).

    The problems occured in 207 offices (out of about 2200) and primarily affected two election districts in which the "first vote" shares between winner and runner-up also ended up rather close. Depending on how the Constitutional Court of Berlin evaluates the problems it might be that only those two districts and 62,000 voters in them will repeat the vote.

    With the currently elected parliament Berlin is set for continuing its SPD/Green/Left government, it's doubtful that a reelection in the two districts would change that. Continuing to include the Left is supposedly a demand of the Greens, with the SPD wanting to switch them for FDP in negotiations, but aquiescing to keep the current coalition in the end.


    In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where there was also a state parliament election the same day, the winning SPD government is planning to switch out their current minority partner (CDU) in their next coalition. In negotiations with CDU, FDP, Greens and Left over the last two weeks they've found that the party "has the most congruence" with the Left.The state CDU is not surprised and was expecting the switch (the federal CDU conservative wing is of course attacking the SPD over their choice). The state was previously ruled by a SPD/Left coalition from 1998 to 2008.
    Last edited by kato; 14 Oct 21,, 20:27.


    • #47
      SPD, FDP and Greens have finished their negotiations and have each individually decided today to recommend negotiating a coalition with each other.

      There's a jointly drafted 12-page document that lays out some results of those negotiations, mostly in the sense of defining red lines and giving some guidance on political priorities. It doesn't address all issues (a real coalition treaty doing so would be 20 times as long, minimum) and is mostly a publicized working document for the next round.


      • #48
        Bärbel Bas will probably become new president of the parliament next tuesday. SPD will vote internally this evening on whether to nominate her.

        The post of president of the parliament is formally the second-highest in the German government, behind the federal president and ahead of the president of the senate and the chancellor. A president of the parliament is always voted in during the first session of parliament after an election (which is next tuesday), is traditionally fielded by the largest party in parliament but pro-forma is still voted on by all representatives and needs an absolute majority.

        While in basic terms she will be the German equivalent of Nancy Pelosi by post, the president of the parliament post in Germany is defined a bit differently from the speaker, and in particular the post is supposed to be handled neutrally without preference for any particular party.

        The move to nominate Bas is due to internal pressure within the SPD to prevent an all-male top government post distribution - 42% of SPD representatives in parliament are female. There have been suggestions that if no woman would be nominated then there'd have to be a female nominee for federal president next time, and the SPD leadership rather wants to keep Steinmeier in office.

        Bas would be the third woman so far to hold that office; previously Annemarie Renger (SPD) held it in 1974-1978 and Rita Süssmuth (CDU) from 1988-1998.

        The president of the parliament will get deputies, one from each faction in the Bundestag, which would also be voted on on tuesday. The deputies rotate in the actual job of assisting the president of the parliament - assisting means becoming pro tempore president for two hours in turn in longer parliamentary sessions. While it's an election, it is considered common courtesy to approve other parties' candidates for these posts, and thus they tend to be voted in with 80%+ of the parliament in favour.

        Nominations for this post tend to be long-term, and i'd expect that the current deputy presidents Friedrich (CSU), Kubicki (FDP), Roth (Green) and Pau (Left) will be nominated for it again. Friedrich is probably the most vague due to the internal friction of CDU and CSU. The current SPD deputy president Dagmar Ziegler did not run for parliament in this election and thus needs to be replaced. The SPD leadership is planning to nominate Aydan Özögüz, a Turkish-German long-time representative in the Bundestag, which may be somewhat controversial (CDU/CSU tends to get triggered by her for various reasons).

        AfD is the only faction that will continue to not have a deputy president of the parliament. The other parties have already announced they'll keep voting to prevent any AfD nominee. During the last four years they voted to not accept a AfD candidate no less than 18 times.


        • #49
          Coalition talks will start next wednesday and run until November 10th.

          The three parties expect to elect Olaf Scholz as new chancellor on December 6th.


          • #50
            The first parliamentary session is being held right now under 3G covid rules - i.e. requiring vaccination, recovery or testing.

            About 20 AfD representatives out of protest did not join the session and instead took up seats on the audience stands above. The parliament accomodated them and both allowed them to take part in the session through a microphone (that initially didn't work) as well as allowing them to vote in the various election the Bundestag holds today separately.

            The only other audience group was placed on the stands at the other end of the auditorium, including among others the Federal President (Frank-Walter Steinmeier) and the commissionary chancellor (Angela Merkel).

            Bärbel Bas was voted in as president of the parliament with 576 votes, i.e. 160 more than the prospective government coalition has. 90 voted against (presumably the AfD faction plus a handful others), 58 abstained.

            In her inaugural speech she addressed in particular Rita Süssmuth and Sabine Bergmann-Pohl, both of which were present - Süssmuth is the only living female former president of the parliament, Bergmann-Pohl was the only female president of the East-German parliament (and in that function also head of state of East Germany between April and October 1990).

            Her deputies are being voted on right now, results in about two hours. Nominee Candidates are Aydan Özögüz for SPD, Ywonne Magwas for CDU, Claudia Roth (incumbent) for Greens, Petra Pau (incumbent) for Left, Wolfgang Kubicki (incumbent) for FDP and Michael Kaufmann for AfD. The CDU/CSU faction attempted to have the number of vice presidents changed - presumably for an extra seat for the CSU - which everyone else voted against.

            Kaufmann will be denied - Bas already adressed Kubicki with "well, if this runs as expected you'll be the only man among us up here".


            • #51
              Deputy election went as expected. The five elected received between 75% and 80% approval votes (SPD, CDU, Green and FDP), even Pau (Left) got 64%.

              Kaufmann (AfD) got 16% and therefore wasn't elected.


              • #52
                Angela Merkel has invited Olaf Scholz to attend attend bilateral talk rounds taking place at the G20 summit. Officially he is attending the summit as minister of finance.

                She'll basically present him as her designate successor to others, including Biden, Erdogan and (scheduled) the heads of state or heads of government of India, Singapore, South Korea and Argentina.


                • #53
                  Thanks for the play by play on this. It is important to keep up with the changing of the guard of one of our best friend's and ally.
                  “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                  Mark Twain


                  • #54
                    Coalition Treaty has been presented.
                    • SPD gets chancellor post plus six ministries (interior, defense, labor, health, "construction", development aid) plus three state secretaties (minor ministers) and the chief-of-staff of the chancellor (minister rank)
                    • Greens get five ministries (foreign affairs, economy, environment, agriculture, family) plus two state secretaries (minor ministers), the deputy chancellor post and nomination rights for the German European Commissar "if the commission president is not German".
                    • FDP gets four ministries (finance, transportation, justice, education), the "leading the cabinet sessions if neither chancellor nor deputy chancellor are present" right and nothing else
                    The distribution basically means that the FDP swallowed getting the far short stick in return for being allowed to be back on the government bench.

                    They also had to swallow some SPD-led initiatives that the FDP is naturally opposed to, such as a 25% higher minimum wage and stricter rent control rules.

                    Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                    If I read this right, a new government will back away from the 2% target?
                    • The coalition treaty contains a paragraph that states "We want Germany within a networked and inclusive approach to long-term spend 3 Percent of its GNP on international action, strengthen its diplomacy and economic aid that way and comply with its duties to NATO."
                    • While some commentators interpret this as accomodating the 2-Percent target ("comply with its duties to NATO"), this is somewhat complicated by the fact that Germany does not - and never has - see "2%" as the target number, but instead - in a literal interpretation of what was agreed to - sees "moving towards 2%" as the agreed-to number. The above paragraph leaves that open to interpretation.
                    • In other sections the coalition explicitly permits the continuation of NATO nuclear sharing (with procurement of a Tornado successor firmly stated to be "at the beginning of the 20th (current) legislature"), as well as allowing the Bundeswehr to arm drones.
                    • For international relations, the coalition calls for a "renewal and dynamisation" of transatlantic relations with the USA and Canada "developed in a European way". They want "increased cooperation" (with transatlantic partners) with regard to "the eastern and southern neighborhood of the EU".
                    • For the UK, the wording basically underhandedly (diplomatically) states that any cooperation requires "a close partnership of the UK with the EU".
                    • There's a pretty extensive section on Eastern Europe, mostly along the lines that any integration (of non-Russian countries) requires democratic change first.
                    • There's an equally extensive section on the Middle East, mostly along the lines of "listen to the UN".
                    • "Cooperation with China in all fields where that's possible". Affirmation of One-China Policy. "Transatlantic Coordination" on China, which diplomatically means not following the US on Chinese policies.
                    Last edited by kato; 24 Nov 21,, 17:05.


                    • #55
                      Thanks Kato

                      Very illuminating
                      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                      Mark Twain


                      • #56
                        Distributing posts got a bit tedious for the Greens due to their rather distinct two wings ("Realists" and "Fundamentalists") and some strong functionaries from state level weighing in.
                        • Robert Habeck, one of the two co-chiefs of the Green party, will become vice chancellor and Minister of "Climate and Energy".
                        • Cem Özdemir will become Minister of Agriculture - and the first Turkish-German federal minister.
                        • Steffi Lemke, former Green party whip in the Bundestag, will become Minister of the Environment. She's sort of the token East German on the green bench.
                        • Anne Spiegel is nominated for Minister of Family. She held the same post at state level before and is currently Minister of Climate of Rhineland-Palatinate state.
                        • Claudia Roth, also former party whip, is slated to get the State Secretary of Culture and Media. She is also Vice President of the Parliament, which might need replacement (not sure about whether there are constitutional or other legal difficulties of having a "sort of" government member, i.e. of the executive, on the parliamentary presidency, i.e. leading the legislative).
                        Lemke, Spiegel and Roth are representatives of the (left) Fundamentalist wing, however Habeck and Özdemir of the (right) Realist wing of the party got the more important posts and the realists successfully prevented Anton Hofreiter (leader of the fundamentalists) from getting a minister post.

                        Özdemir was effectively slotted in by the (very conservative) Baden-Württemberg state Greens, which represent nearly one-third of all German green voters, and Hofreiter - who was previously a sure bet for a minister post - got shafted that way. It should be noted that technically Özdemir doesn't have anything to do with agriculture in his biography (Lemke is the agroscientist among them) - this posting is simply about getting a minister post for him, nothing more.

                        The infighting is generally seen in comments as casting the current Green party in a negative light, sorta as "unprepared for government".

                        The FDP meanwhile distributed their posts without any such problems.
                        • Christian Lindner, head of the FDP, will become Minister of Finance
                        • Marco Buschmann, a lawyer, will become Minister of Justice. The choice is somewhat interesting given he's been an outspoken opponent of some of the current rightwing-conservative legislation in certain fields (data retention laws for prosecution for example)
                        • Volker Wissing, general secretary of the FDP, will become minister of "transportation and digital matters". He was Minister of Transport in Rhineland-Palatinate state in the same government as Anne Spiegel of the Greens above.
                        • Bettina Stark-Watzinger, head of the FDP Bundestag faction, is nominated as Minister of Research and Education
                        FDP will hold a party caucus on Dec. 5th during which they will vote on the coalition treaty and the post distribution.

                        The fundamentalist wing of the Greens is fairly pro-military and interventionist (Özdemir did call for interventions in both Libya and Syria), although with Steffi Lemke there's a prominent anti-interventionist from the realists in the above list (she was one of 8 Green representatives voting against the Afghanistan mission in 2001).
                        Among the FDP group Wissing tends to be fairly outspoken hawkish.

                        Özdemir (Greens), Lindner (FDP) and Buschmann (FDP) are formally reservists, although only Lindner is an active reserve officer (major rank). All three originally conscientiously objected 20-30 years ago, but retracted these in order to intern with the Bundeswehr (Lindner and Özdemir actually did it together). It's usually just some obstacle course, shooting, tank driving etc, the Bundeswehr does this to attract "multipliers" for lobbying their positions among politicians and business. However for that they were actually sworn in as soldiers. During their internship they held a temporary rank of First Lieutenant, of which they were stripped again afterwards. Özdemir and Buschmann to my knowledge are still "Privates of the Reserve" that way.
                        Last edited by kato; 26 Nov 21,, 22:50.


                        • #57

                          Comissionary Chancellor Angela Merkel will have the formal Großer Zapfenstreich military tattoo for her farewell next thursday. Due to the pandemic the ceremony will be significantly smaller, with only about 200 guests who have to prove vaccination and provide negative covid tests. All 52 ministers during her tenure are invited, although von der Leyen has already announced she can't come.

                          In the last two decades it has become en vogue to choose the individualizing songs for the serenade performed by the music corps at the ceremony in such a way as to define oneself. Merkel chose a Nina Hagen song (to denote being born in East Germany), a church stanca (as the daughter of a priest) and Hildegard Knef's 1968 chanson "Für mich solls Rote Rosen Regnen" (which is sorta a midlife crisis song in my opinion). Gerhard Schröder for comparison chose Gershwin's Summertime, "Mack the Knife" and Sinatra's "My Way".
                          The choice of Nina Hagen is somewhat peculiar, given that the original singer is currently quite active in the covid-denier activist crowd.

                          At her last cabinet meeting this week - her 161st - Merkel was gifted a tree by the cabinet. She's an avid gardener at her Dacha in the small village of Hohenwalde, near the town where she grew up.

                          It is currently planned to elect Scholz as chancellor in the week after that, i.e. on the week starting on Dec 6th.


                          • #58
                            Coalition has been approved by all three parties.

                            Prospective list of SPD ministers:
                            • Chancellor (head of government) : Olaf Scholz
                            • Chancellery (Chief of Staff) : Wolfgang Schmidt, previously (federal) state secretary in the finance ministry, close associate of Scholz
                            • Minister of Interior : Nancy Faeser, head of SPD faction in Hesse state parliament, largely unknown at federal level
                            • Minister of Health : Karl Lauterbach, health spokesman of SPD, well-known due to pandemic (and basically a must in the line-up, he was basically "shadow minister" since early 2020 anyways)
                            • Minister of Development : Svenja Schulze, previously (federal) minister of environment
                            • Minister of Defense : Christine Lambrecht, previously (federal) minister of justice and minister of family affairs
                            • Minister of Labor : Hubertus Heil, keeping his job
                            • Minister of Construction : Klara Gleywitz, was Scholz's wingwoman for SPD leadership candidacy
                            For some reason i omitted this one two posts above for the Greens:
                            • Minister of Foreign Affairs : Anna-Lena Baerbock, was chancellor candidate of Greens

                            Gonna omit the state secretaries (minor ministers) since that stuff's too complicated. Notable ones for the Greens are e.g. Katja Keul, who once quit the Greens over them voting in favour of the Yugoslavia Invasion, the Attac co-founder Sven Giegold or the head of the "Agora Energiewende" anti-coal energy politics think-tank Patrick Graichen.

                            Christine Lambrecht, the designate minister of defense, is a fairly conservative SPD politician and lawyer from my area (literally, she lives about half an hour away from me). She is not an elected member of the current parliament, having decided not to run in this election after 23 years as a parliamentary representative. She is part of the Left Wing ("Parliamentary Left") of the SPD, i.e. the traditional unionist social democrats. Fairly sure she hasn't had anything to do with the military so far. Lambrecht was deputy president (a figurehead position) of the THW technical assistance corps between 2010 and 2018, i.e. the nominally paramilitary-organized federal civil defense organization.

                            In a short speech during her presentation she mostly highlighted three strategic points with regard to the Ministry of Defense and the Bundeswehr, which are
                            • acknowledging/crediting soldiers and reservists for their (domestic) services in particular in the current ongoing pandemic and the floods this summer
                            • modernize procurement processes and improve equipment of th Bundeswehr, as well as making the Bundeswehr more attractive in recruitment
                            • continuously evaluate deployment missions and develop ready exit strategies for any such current or future mission due to how Afghanistan went down (this is prescribed by the coalition treaty as well).
                            It should be noted that her new post is primarily an administrative one, and even if she nominally has the peace-time military command it'll be her military and civilian advisers doing the actual work of course. To some extent for this Lambrecht is seen as an "all-purpose weapon", someone who you can put in any difficult post and she'll do her job while not being under some sort of media highlight. Besides her two current minister jobs she previously was also a state secretary in the Ministry of Finance and therefore has some beneficial experience at this level of budget politics.
                            Last edited by kato; 06 Dec 21,, 18:09.


                            • #59
                              Olaf Scholz was elected with 395 votes today and sworn in as new chancellor.