Many thanks to JLH for translating this short piece from Nicolaus Fest’s website:
Berlin Elections: Regression to the Clan
September 30, 2016
POST-DEMOCRACY. A concept allegedly coined in 2004 by social scientist Colin Crouch. It means a creeping undoing of democratic structures. To be sure, the distribution of power among administration, parliament and states is maintained. In actuality, however, deals between the party elites have been made beforehand. And the voters’ influence is further marginalized by voting lists. Even candidates deselected in the voting could be sure of getting a position somewhere, whether in Strasbourg or Brussels. So elections — the nub of the democratic process — as well as the work of parliament and of the opposition have all been devalued from within. The arrogance of the chancellor ordering the opening of the border in 2015 after the parliamentary debate, is paradigmatic of this process. But the parliament had already abdicated in the decision about the bailout fund.
Not only does the parliament lack parliamentarians, but democracy has a deficiency of democrats. That is obvious at least in the Berlin state election. Many voters appear to regard this democratic activity more as a formalistic ritual than as political decision-making.
The results can hardly be explained any other way. Ca. 70% of voters voted for parties that are responsible for Berlin’s misery: GREEN. CDU, SPD and LINKE. Under their control, as attested by the leftist Tagesspiegel, the capital — at the state and district level — has become a failed state. The schools are poor, as is the condition of the streets. The urban train and streetcar system is widely out of service in the winter. After ten years of construction, the BER airport is not yet in service. Criminal clans control large areas. The drug scene is eating ever deeper into districts that had once been orderly. The administration functions in fits and starts and even the simplest functions, such providing information, vehicle transfer papers or registrations, take months. Since the immigration of violent groups, the number of break-ins and attacks on women rises from year to year.
But all of this does not bother the voters. They, too, have long since been in post-democracy mode. They seem unaware that democratic voting only functions if the voters are prepared to punish mismanagement. Tribal solidarity — i.e., the election of completely incompetent administrators only because they come from the same barnyard — represents pre- or post-democratic regression to clannishness. Voting is done on the basis of loyalty, not to keep harm away from the country, oneself or one’s neighbors.
That is poison for a democracy — a path to African conditions. The completely de-politicized election posters of SPD, GREEN and CDU rely on incantations instead of a recitation of facts — as atavistic societies rely on drumming to the kraal. The violent attacks on posters and representatives of AfD as well as the disinterested reaction of the established parties comport with this. Where the only concern is the preservation of clan interests, general democratic rules play no part. The sole decider is family/party. Berlin’s problem is not just the Lebanese or Kurdish clans. More fateful, socially and politically, are the people in the leading offices — supported by their post-democratic tribes.
Back to the Berlin election. Let us recall the media reactions to Brexit. The tenor of many commentaries was that democracy is too important to be left to the people. There were pleas for annulment, an instant new referendum, the splitting off of Scotland. You see, the British voters had not comprehended the magnitude of their decision. They were stupid, uninformed, ignorant; had sinned against the future of their country. Those who like to insult voters could say something similar of the Berliners, and more justly. At any rate, the disaster here has already taken pace. In the case of Brexit, it had been questionable and only prognosticated. But nothing in the newspapers.