War & PoliticsGerman Election

 

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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
42034.1 
Hi, as an American, I have no skin in the game, but I did find some aspects of their recent German election fascinating.   It isn't a big deal to the US who is the leader, the relationship between countries goes far beyond the politics.

By US standards, the CDU / CSU is really "center left", most of the rest are just "further left" and the ADF is sort of center right, just to put the tilt into an American perspective.

Regardless of the politics, I find it fascinating that 2 out of 3 German voters chose "anyone except Merkel", and still there she is.

Now that is someone who really knows how to play the game.

I can't help but wonder if the other parties were to pool their results - couldn't they form the majority?  I don't really understand exactly how their system works.

Thanks

Harry N

 
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 From:  milko  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
42034.2 In reply to 42034.1 
It's government by coalition, as I understand it (I don't have great insight), so yes, if enough other parties agreed with one another they could form a majority. But they don't, enough of them have enough common ground with Merkel's party that it still takes it clearly.

It's pretty much insane to me that an openly nationalist racist party like AfD could count as "center right" to Americans! What a world. I suppose with a more nuanced look at the rest of their policies that might be a thing.

 
milko
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 From:  ANT_THOMAS  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
42034.3 In reply to 42034.1 
As milko has mentioned, I guess the interesting point is that by US standards you place the parties where you do. The CDU/CSU are definitely Center-right with AfD most definitely being far right.

Maybe you view Merkels party to be left because of the acceptance of asylum seekers?
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 From:  [The best version of] (DSMITHHFX)  
 To:  ALL
42034.4 
In other news...


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41392940
“Badge, gun, holster, skateboard … meet Canada's first skateboarding cop”

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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
42034.5 
Maybe I should clarify some of the characteristics that in US politics tends to classify someone or a party as "left leaning":
- High taxes to subsidize large social programs (as an example, the gasoline tax in Germany is pretty high by US standards).  I think it is used in some kind of specific social program, not sure which one.
- Heavy use of rail for public transportation.  Rail mass transport in the US is viewed first as a gift to rail road equipment companies, then further as a gift to companies that location in high density areas.  It hardly ever breaks even, so that is classified as a tax payer funded subsidy.
- Strong anti gun owner rights sentiment and restrictions on ownership and use.  That is pretty consistent with many German's sentiments and the CDU
- Subsidized exports
- Taking in immigrants at a rate that exceeds the ability to teach them how to become part of the social fabric.  I am not saying to take away their culture, but just like any new situation, it takes time to learn how to adjust to the new surroundings.

I am not criticizing these political views, it is just that here these are viewed as left leaning political views.

In the US, you would normally not hear of a center - right politician promoting these ideas and expect support from anyone the least bit conservative.
 
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
42034.6 
I have been in Germany a fair amount on business, and I always find it striking how much of a head game has been played on the German people to still be apologizing for a war that happened so long ago.  There are hardly any people even still alive from that era, and yet the concept of children born today someone carrying the stigma of "sins of our great grandfather's" carries on.

After living through the George W Bush presidency, I can really see how the average person can be made to live in fear of the government while it enters into questionable wars.  This made me really appreciate what happened in the 1930s and 40s.

One of the key points of the AfD has been to end this mental self-beating over the past, and I think that is a good thing.

There are a number of modern countries, claiming various reasons for legitimacy, who are doing just as terrible of things to others as Germany ever did.  I doubt that you will ever hear of them apologizing.

As far as having a sense of nationalism, I don't see that as a bad thing.  Of course it can go too far, but perhaps Germany needs a bit more of it.

Is it any different than Brexit?

 
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 From:  milko  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
42034.7 In reply to 42034.6 
Brexit is nationalist, yes. I expect the majority of this forum would agree that it's a bad thing and with a lot of racism behind the motivation (though not all). We're a lefty bunch, on the whole.

I think there's a difference between Germany feeling like they don't need to keep apologising and the kind of things that AfD preach. Not forgetting is not the same as carrying the guilt. Meanwhile being allowed to forget it means the kind of evil fascist sentiments are allowed and even encouraged to rise again.

And 'other countries are as bad' is no kind of argument! We might as well all be North Korea then, right?
milko
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 From:  Dave!!  
 To:  ALL
42034.8 
My wife is German (from former East Germany actually), so she's obviously been interested in things. Part of the main reason why things are often coalitions there is that they have proportional representation - with a 5% minimum vote before you get people into the Bundestag. It's unfortunate that the AfD got as high as they did, as it's the first time they've got above 5% and hence now have representation in the Bundestag.

Hence, CDU got 32.9% of votes, and with a few discarded for parties below the 5% barrier, they get 34.7% of the seats.

In Britain, we have the broken "First past the post" system that means that the Lib Dems got 2.3 million votes (7.4% of the share), but only have 12 seats (a 1.8% share - there's 650 seats). In comparison, the SNP got 977,000 votes (3% - albeit they only put candidates forward in Scotland for obvious reasons), but have 35 seats - nearly 3 times what the Lib Dems have, despite getting less than half the votes.
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 From:  milko  
 To:  Dave!!     
42034.9 In reply to 42034.8 
Oh interesting! I heard East Germany was one of the more AfD-leaning areas due to the whole legacy of the East/West thing (err bit complex for me to try and summarise at all in a post haha).

Actually that was another interesting one, just as with Brexit here. Immigration being a massive part of the reasoning behind the result, but all the AfD/Leave votes coming from the areas with least immigration actually happening. There's obviously something quite universal going on here, that I suppose is from inequality and the perceived reasons for it.

I completely agree with you that PR government seems a lot fairer. People say it leads to too much compromise and nothing actually happening, but the likes of Germany seem to do pretty well with it. Have many countries in modern times made the shift from FPTP to PR? It seems like something that would be a difficult change.
milko
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  milko     
42034.10 In reply to 42034.7 
North Korea might be an example - it is hard for me to really tell what is going on because the news bias has always been pretty strong.

You are right about problems from the past aren't justified by bad behavior of the present - I was sort of referring to the middle east countries though and not necessarily the enemy du jour.

Historically the US method of dealing with extremist is to just let people do their protesting and complaining.  Usually by the time they grow up, get a job and have a couple of kids, they are too tired to misbehave.

I am not a big fan of the German approach which is more or less to label anyone who disagrees with the lead party as a fascist.  I am sure that there is some of that, but every political party will attract and incite some overly excitable followers -  the greens are a prefect example.  Heavy suppression of free speech is rarely a good idea, and it is done with an iron fist there. 
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 From:  milko  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
42034.11 In reply to 42034.10 
The Germans suppress free speech? I know they're pretty harsh on Nazis but there's some very good reasons why, and I don't think much else is verboten is it? I could be wrong, would love to know more. 
milko
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
42034.12 
I guess the part that is the most interesting is that my German business colleagues  and friends have given me a lot of flack over the US electoral college system, where a candidate that had less than 50% of the individual votes could win.

Germany will apparently now have as the leader someone who 2 out of 3 German voters didn't want to be their leader. 

If 2 out of 3 voters in the US voted for "someone else", it would be very difficult to win - except of course in California that could theoretically happen.

 
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
42034.13 
quote: milko
The Germans suppress free speech? I know they're pretty harsh on Nazis but there's some very good reasons why, and I don't think much else is verboten is it? I could be wrong, would love to know more. 

Similar to here in CA, a lot of it is social pressure.  Even though the claim is that it is a society open to ideas and conversations, in reality if you have an alternative point of view, it is dealt with pretty harshly.

I know of a few people in Germany who are gun owners, and they asked me to never mention it at work or they would loose their jobs.  Pretty similar here in CA.  Of course smoking pot, a Federal crime is allowed, while smoking cigarettes or drinking a beer when you are 18 is a crime worthy of jail.

It all seems kind of crazy to someone who grew up around relatives that smoked and most of us drank modest amounts of beer since we were 6.

My grandmother had a keg on tap at all times and no one could leave the place without drinking a glass for risk of insulting her.

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 From:  ANT_THOMAS  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
42034.14 In reply to 42034.12 
You're comparing totally different electoral and political systems. In Germany (and the UK) people are voting for parties (or local representatives) and not individuals (presidents), meaning the leader of the largest party is generally the one who assumes the top position. Whereas in the States you have a Presidential election.

It is similar in the UK where 57.6% of the population didn't vote for the party in power. But also in the US 53.9% of the population didn't vote for the current president.

At least in Germany it is proportional and they are forced to enter coalition governments. And a proportional system allows a more diverse lineup of political parties, rather than a 2 party system, because there is a realistic chance of representation.
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 From:  [The best version of] (DSMITHHFX)  
 To:  milko     
42034.15 In reply to 42034.9 
Yeah apparently AfD's support is confined to the (formerly "communist") east:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/28/is-germanys-election-result-the-revenge-of-the-east

 
“Badge, gun, holster, skateboard … meet Canada's first skateboarding cop”
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 From:  Peter (BOUGHTONP)  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
42034.16 In reply to 42034.6 
> As far as having a sense of nationalism, I don't see that as a bad thing.

Except for when it's the absolute worst thing ever, which it almost always is.


> ..perhaps Germany needs a bit more of it.

¬_¬ Yeah, because who cares about 82 million deaths?

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 From:  Manthorp  
 To:  Peter (BOUGHTONP)     
42034.17 In reply to 42034.16 
I grew up in Pakistan, and for the last 2 years attended an international school with a US staff. I can still remember the daily pledging of allegiance to the the flag, which even as a child disturbed me.

It was no worse than singing the Pakistani national anthem in a previous school or standing for the national anthem in UK cinemas (yes, I'm old enough to remember that!) - but it was no better either.

That nationalism which shades into chauvinism, which shades into jingoism, which shades into xenophobia, strikes me as antithetical to that which makes people most human. We should value being social animals, not antisocial ones.

"We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked."
James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks 1951
 
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 From:  Dave!!  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
42034.18 In reply to 42034.12 
Milko is correct that in Germany, you vote for the party - not the leader. In the UK, you're supposed to vote for who you want your local MP to be, but of course people often end up looking at May, Corbyn etc. and using that to make their decision.

However, the other way of looking at it is that more people voted for Merkel's party than anyone else, so she's the most deserving leader. After her, the next party was the SPD with only 20% of the vote share. Surely it'd be even more strange to have a leader that only 1 in 5 voted for?

As it is due to the coalition process, by the time the parties have come to an agreement, the ruling coalition will (between them) have over 50% of the vote, and hence have a mandate to be in power. It's just that politicians and parties have to work together to achieve it.

On the plus side of the German system, the only votes that are essentially wasted are for parties with less than 5% of the vote share. In Britain, only the winner of the constituency counts, which means lots of tactical voting and wasted votes. Vote for the Green party in the UK and it's usually a wasted vote. Vote for them in Germany and you're directly affecting the Bundestag as the Greens have 8.9% of the vote, and hence 9.4% of the seats.
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ANT_THOMAS     
42034.19 In reply to 42034.14 
quote: ANT_THOMAS
You're comparing totally different electoral and political systems. In Germany (and the UK) people are voting for parties (or local representatives) and not individuals (presidents), meaning the leader of the largest party is generally the one who assumes the top position. Whereas in the States you have a Presidential election.

It is similar in the UK where 57.6% of the population didn't vote for the party in power. But also in the US 53.9% of the population didn't vote for the current president.

At least in Germany it is proportional and they are forced to enter coalition governments. And a proportional system allows a more diverse lineup of political parties, rather than a 2 party system, because there is a realistic chance of representation.

I think that this concept of "voting for a party" to be in congress and then the congress selecting the President was done in the US at one time.  It didn't work out that well, as the party bosses picked the president and the usual corruption was even worse than the current system of an electoral college.

The US is not fundamentally a 2 party system, that is just a result of crooked politics and crooked election laws that tend to push out smaller parties.

In CA it is perhaps even worse, because the election laws are written so that they take the results of the primary elections and only forward the "two top candidates in vote count" to the final election.  This resulted in eliminating not only third parties like the Greens, Libertarians, Independents, etc - but largely even eliminated the Republican party from many offices.

We get the pleasure of voting for one of two Democrats - which is pretty ridiculous no matter your political views.

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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  Peter (BOUGHTONP)     
42034.20 In reply to 42034.16 
> As far as having a sense of nationalism, I don't see that as a bad thing.

Except for when it's the absolute worst thing ever, which it almost always is.

 

> ..perhaps Germany needs a bit more of it.

¬_¬ Yeah, because who cares about 82 million deaths?

I suppose the British, French, Spanish. US, Middle Eastern Countries never did anything regrettable in their history?

How many of these countries construct monuments to the evil of their past Monarchs and the millions who died from their attempts to conquer the world?

How many countries and regions of the world are messed up even today as a result of historical colonialism, and essentially rape of natural resources via slavery of the local population?

Am I personally responsible for some land developer in the 1800s bribing congressmen to confiscate native American tribal lands, to the extent that I have to go to confession every day and feel like I am a terrible person?  No way.

The reality is that nearly every country has done this at one time or another in it's past, and we all must learn to move beyond it.  

 

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