German Federal Elections – the Numbers September 5, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, The Left.
A very welcome post from Gewerkschaftler.
First the polls…
The polls summarised here tell some of the story of this election – it has so far been utterly without drama and without significant change in the fortunes of the parties standing for election. The longer term tendency, over the last couple of years, has been for the SPD to loose about 4% in the polls while at the same time the CDU/CSU has gained a similar amount. The Greens have gone from a high point of about 16% to around 13%. The vote for die Linke remains at a steady level of about 8 or 9% while the explicitly neo-Liberal FDP bump along the all-important 5% threshold; within the mixed constituency and list system 5% of the votes is needed to enter the Bundestag (parliament).
Unfortunately it looks like the FDP may well survive the election, especially if the hereditary Christian Social Union voters (imagine a genetically engineered mix of Leo Varadkar and Jackie Healy Ray in lederhosen, if you can bear it) vote tactically to ensure that the FDP remain a possible coalition partner.
The anti-Euro AfD (alternative for Germany) – an anti-Euro and anti-EU party – have not gained much traction and hover around the 3% mark and have gained very little traction. Perhaps because they come over like a totally Germanic very earnest UKIP, which doesn’t play well outside their core constituency.
The Pirates have been hoist with their own digital direct democratic and ‘post-gender’ petard. Which is a shame because they had some radical policies for a guaranteed minimum income, free public transport and default transparency in government.
As to possible coalitions, the CDU/CSU with FDP may just shade it or Merkel may choose a larger partner. Which brings us to the curious non-contest that lies at the heart of the contest.
The SPD (an ordo-liberal party that stopped being social-democratic except in rhetoric at least 15 years ago) and the Greens ( renewable energy plus a nod to ‘social justice’) are theoretically campaigning together to form the next government. The problem is that the numbers just don’t stack up.
Why? Well firstly the SPD campaign has been extraordinarily lack-luster and the main candidate, Peer Steinbruck, has been largely an ineffective and accident-prone embarrassment. Secondly the explicitly right have been frightening well-to-do Green voters with the bogey-man of tax increases for the upper-middle class. To be fair to the Greens this time around they have more economic substance in the person of Jürgen Trittin, and a re-distributive tax policy that places the increases on the top 10%. But the middle-class remains angst-ridden.
As a result, the proposed SPD/Green coalition are unlikely to attract more than 40-42% of the vote, barring upsets. With die Linke they could come within spitting distance of a workable government, but the SPD hates die Linke (fundamentally because they are real Social Democrats with concrete policies) and such a coalition is officially ruled out.
So the next coalition government is Frau Doktor Merkel’s to choose, and most people accept this, including, secretly, the SPD. She may not choose the FDP who are utterly devoid of talent or flair when it comes to day to day politicking. They may not reach the necessary 5%. Merkel is an arch-pragmatist, within her ideological devotion to a ‘market-compliant democracy’, and as such she is open to most centrist arrangements, including both the SPD and the Greens. She may indeed prefer them to the tiresome FDP.
Consequently we were treated to a TV ‘Duel’ between Steinbruck (SPD) and Merkel (CDU), which was at the same time a contest between the two possible future Chancellors, and a job application by Steinbruck for the post of Finance minister in her next government. She was extremely relaxed, knowing she had any amount of tactical room for manoeuvre, while he tried just hard enough, but no harder. He has form, having been her Finance minister in a previous ‘Grand Coalition’.
And so long as the Greens get their windmills and solar panels, they would be amenable, having shed nearly all of their former left, to going into coalition with Merkel. Trittin would probably be side-lined as part of the deal.
Time, or more precisely the weeks after the 22nd of September, will tell, but it makes for a dull election, which really isn’t engaging the electorate. Reputedly 30% of voters make up their mind in the last week however.
But we’ve had some amusing defacing of election placards. The CDU’s “Gemeinsam und Erfolgreich” (together and successful) became “eEinsam & Reich” (Rich and alone).