Our German translator JLH has compiled an overview of the upcoming election in Germany, and includes four translated articles.
“Mommy Dearest” Wins Again
The following four articles offer a glimpse into what the German election in the autumn is likely to produce, and why. In the process, the various political parties will be referred to, so here is a brief guide:
Erstwhile conservative Christian Democratic Union/Christian Socialist Union (CDU/CSU), genuinely Socialist Party of Germany (SPD), Free Democratic Party (FDP), Greens, the Left (die Linke), Alternative for Germany (AfD).
The first article by writer Monika Maron from Neue Zürcher Zeitung spells out the attitudes of a former East German who had adapted to the West, and now finds it changed.
I Haven’t Been a Leftist for a Long Time
by Monika Maron
June 30, 2017
(No way would writer Monika Maron like to live through four more years of Merkel. But what would be the alternative in a time of no alternatives?)
It is summer, but a cool day, appropriate for reflecting on an early sign of autumn. In the fall, we have to, ought to, are allowed to, vote. Previously, when I lived in the German Democratic Republic, the freedom to vote was as hoped-for as the freedom to travel and open borders. And that just goes to show how changeable ideas are. Nowadays, who hears “open borders” and thinks first of the fall of the Berlin Wall? Now we have, I have, the freedom to vote, and yet for years voting has been an imposition for me. Mostly, I have voted for the Free Democratic Party, because I thought that would cause the least damage. I will probably do that again, this time with the very slight hope of preventing the greatest misfortune: a black-green coalition. The ineluctable Angela Merkel, flanked by Katrin Göring-Eckardt would be — at least for me — the greatest imaginable electoral train-wreck. When I moved from the East to the West in 1988, I considered the Greens my natural allies. I discovered my error in short order. There is no doubt today that they are among my political enemies.
I really would not like to live through four Merkel years again. Presumably, I share this wish with many of my fellow citizens. Otherwise, how to explain the rocket-like ascent of Martin Schulz, and his equally precipitous descent, like a burned-out New Year’s Eve rocket, when it became obvious that things could get even worse under a chancellor from the Socialist Party. Anyone who demands social justice without explaining how illegal immigration can be stopped and illegal immigrants persuaded to emigrate, is not answering the important questions, and is feeding the suspicion that he is not even paying attention to them.
So, Merkel again. But why should I even vote, if I don’t want the only possible result? What kind of election is that, where nothing is at stake except a tiny coalition partner? This coming election concludes the disaster of the latest legislative cycles: first the CDU partnered with the derailed FDP, followed by the Grand Coalition [CDU and SPD] which brought forth a parliament with no opposition and no spine. It got worse — When the chancellor’s own party threatened to balk, the leftist and green opposition jumped helpfully into the breach. After twelve years of her regime, I see the figure of Merkel as a vampire that is sucking the good out of every party, and eventually out of parliamentary government itself, just to extend its own life. How else can we explain that she has withstood her mad and universally recognized mistakes — the overdone energy switch, the collapsed salvation of the euro, the borders yawning wide open — and in addition, persuaded the world of her irreplaceability?
So, if I vote, I will elect Merkel again and a policy I think is calamitous. You see, I belong to those who recently identify themselves as rightist. That’s what it says in the newspapers. They claim that anyone who thinks like me is a rightist. I would never have believed that I could one day be rightist. In my youth, I was leftist. That’s how I was brought up, and besides, almost everyone I knew was more or less leftist, really because of German history, because of Sartre, Böll, Brecht, Heiner Müller. Even Wolf Biermann was leftist.. I haven’t been a leftist for a long time. I always thought I was liberal, but television and the newspaper say I am rightist. And now I rack my brain about how that could happen. I fancy myself to be just as sensible as before, when I was no longer a leftist but not yet a rightist. What axis has turned so that I find myself on the other side, without having changed sides? The one in my mind? Or has someone turned my opinion compass so that east, west, north and south, that is leftist, liberal and clueless, are all mixed up? If I could wish something for Germany…
Take for instance the charge of Islamophobia, which definitely is part of being rightist. The newspapers and television say that I have a sick fear of Islam. The truth is that I do have a fear of Islam. But why is that sick and not sensible? The same newspapers that attest my contemptible attitude report daily on bloodthirsty crimes committed in the name of that religion, emphasizing that it is not the religion but an abuse of it. Almost everything in human history has been abused. While the abuse of what is national leads my critics to conclude that the national state must be abolished, “abused” Islam escapes unscathed.
Most Muslims are peaceful, is how it goes. That’s true. And yet, for a while now, I have been wondering whenever I encounter a woman armored with a head scarf: What are you trying to tell me with that? That you are different from me? That you are better than me? That one day my grandchildren will be running around with one of those? Fifteen or twenty years ago, when the headscarves were comparatively few, I wasn’t yet wondering that. The fact that most Muslims are peaceful does not guarantee that they are liberal or secular. That is proved by studies, election results and fanatic demonstrations whenever Erdogan appears in Germany. Yes, I am afraid of the reactionary, misogynistic, universally hegemonic Islam that is permeating our everyday lives. Why is that sick? And why is it rightist? Why am I rightist to doubt that the one-and-one-half or two million (nobody knows exactly) young men who have immigrated in the last three years will become the desired skilled workers and solve Germany’s demographic problem — especially men whose demographic profile indicates their unsuitability.
Or take the AfD. I see in it the results of an obstinate policy, propagated as being without alternative, the consequences of which are unforeseeable. From the very start, AfD was opposed as if it were the Old Nick himself, even when it was still the “good AfD” — the professorial Lucke AfD. Why is it leftist, when a party legitimized in thirteen provincial legislatures and likely soon to be in the Bundestag, is refused meeting venues, its members’ jobs are endangered, their cars burned and they themselves beaten up? And why is it rightist for me to think that is undemocratic, stupid and brutal?
If all that is rightist, and simultaneously a hysterical battle is being waged against the right, if therefore opinion and speech are censored, public meetings and discussions are violently prevented, and if these warriors against the right call themselves leftist, then someone has been tinkering with the opinion compass, and it’s not me that has changed sides.
I would gladly vote for Sebastian Kurz, but that isn’t possible. If I could wish for something for Germany, I would ask Boris Palmer to leave the Greens, start his own movement and dedicate his talents to 80 million Germans instead of the not-even 100,000 of Tübingen. He is not as young as Emmanuel Macron and Sebastian Kurz, but young enough. Most important, he has retained his common sense, is obviously fearless, and a fighter. And I would hope then that the German people would throw off their trepidation and mistrust and try something new and unfamiliar.
But it is already summer and not long until fall — too little time for so much daring, and that’s how it will still be at the “imposition.”
1. Respectively, Sartre was a French literary figure favorable to communism, Brecht left the USA to reside in East Berlin, Böll was a West German who wrote gritty anti-war stories about WWII, Müller was a prominent East German dramatist. 2. The songwriter, singer, and polemicist Wolf Biermann finally drove the East German government so wild that they were happy to let him emigrate to West Germany, where he proceeded to annoy that government. 3. Austrian Minster for Foreign Affairs and Integration. 4. Green mayor of Tübingen.
Raised under East German communism, leaving just before the Wall fell, Maron now thinks the liberals have deserted her. Well, she wasn’t around for the “march through the institutions” by the “68ers” in the West, so she is not really aware of how long and wide this new Left is. She feels double-crossed, but it never occurs to her to vote against the “vampire” by voting for the only Van Helsing in the race. She is indignant at the treatment of the AfD, but she wouldn’t dream of voting for it. Like so many others, she hasn’t “assimilated” to the alternatives in democracy, because the specter of Nazism is in perpetual use to discredit any non-leftist.
Next is the jaundiced view from Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung of a perennially cynical editorialist, exposing, among other things, Angela Merkel’s virtuoso conducting of the PC chorus.
(Merkel has done it again, the SPD is aiming for 20%, and the Greens are playing their pre-ordained role.)
The Week in Review with Hans Heckel
July 1, 2017
The situation is completely muddled. So we can understand Martin Schulz’s hysterical failure. At least the mood of it. It constituted an “assault on democracy,” zapped the CDU chief, Merkel.
Why? Because she refuses open battle. Because she systematically avoids it. Does the accused chancellor understand this? Of course not. Schulz had hardly begun to wail, and she did it again.
Looking for an advantage, the SPD, Greens and FDP had just flared their nostrils and snorted out the challenge: “marriage for all.” That is, same-sex couples must be accorded the right to adoption. This was to be the basic requirement for a coalition with Merkel’s party. Schulz especially was betting that the chancellor would resist in deference to the Christian-conservative wing of her party.
Merkel never even considered it, and played her time-worn trick. She appropriated it for her own catalogue of salable ideas, and rendered it harmless. And in the Bundestag, says Merkel, each one could vote his or her conscience. Clever — the chancellor, the SPD, the FDP and the Greens get what they want, and the outvoted opponents in the CDU can still say that they were against it. With this maneuver, Merkel has once again deflated an SPD strategy. Schulz’s campaign car is sitting on four flats. And now? The SPD lead candidate could pick up a couple of hot potatoes that might do the government some real damage — unregulated immigration, Merkel’s breaking her promise to systematically deport rejected asylum applicants, dwindling domestic security and danger of terrorism, sky-high taxes and fees, crumbling infrastructure, a welfare state whose upward spiraling costs achieve less and less, the ruinous condition of the armed forces and police, the threat of losing the right to assemble to marauding extreme leftists, the completely screwed-up “energy switch,” the dispossession of savings account holders by politically inspired zero-interest, the irregular salvation of banks and failed states in the euro zone, and a bunch more. There’s a truckload of political failure you could use to harass the government to hell and back, until its “image” was hanging in shreds. Unfortunately, each of these themes is as bad for the SPD as for the Union (CDU/CSU). Even the “opposition” — Greens and the Left — wouldn’t escape unscathed, if these truly important problems were made into campaign issues. That’s why nobody touches them. Schulz just blusters about “justice” and Merkel thinks about how and when she will crumple up and discard her party’s tax-cut promise.
In the end, it’s just a completely unpolitical choice of personalities, in which Germans vote by gut instinct for the candidate they “find” more sympathetic, more credible or more competent. The verb “find” says it all — it has nothing to do with facts. It comes from kids’ talk, where the best one is always the winner, and as we all know, that’s Mommy.
The SPD is prepared for defeat. Why else have the Social Democrats called back the has-been general secretary, Hubertus Heil? His total disaster in the 2009 Bundestag elections taught him what to do with a 20% result. But what will become of poor Schulz, if Heil’s second electoral disaster is even worse than his first? First, he will have to “take full responsibility,” so that all the other losers can take cover behind the drapes. Afterwards, he’ll come to the Ebert Foundation and receive a fabulously salaried position with the EU (because of his “wealth of experience in the area of EU politics’) or be fobbed off with a string of board-of-directors memberships so he can shuttle between Brussels and Berlin as a well-greased lobbyist. Never fear — the man will be taken care of.
All well and good, — but we have completely forgotten the Greens! They do not figure in a personality contest between Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz. So the party has to get a move on, if they want to come out of the shadow.
Something hot was needed here — and it came: a ban on all gas and diesel cars starting 2030. After that, the only cars produced would be electric. That’s just over twelve years from now. And that is why it curls the hair of the Green governor of the car-oriented state of Baden-Württemberg. In an allegedly privately videotaped rage, the angered sovereign went off on the decision.
Fortunately for his party, no political organization has as many followers among journalists as the Greens. So most of them wrote in one voice about Kretschmann’s eruption: the Swabian was “talking s**t” about the ban.
“Talk s**t” about? That means make fun of. It has to do with irony, making jokes. No question of that with Kretschmann. He was not having fun at the decision’s expense. He was furious when he tore it apart. The government and corporate media completely skipped the high point of the speech. Kretschmann spent the whole time talking to Matthias Gastel, who is the spokesman for the Greens, and crowned Kretschmann’s philippic with the revelatory comment: “Winfried, our different roles are clear to me. As a party faction in the Bundestag, we serve our clientele and try to increase it…”. End of recording.
We can’t believe our ears. For almost forty years, the Greens have wandered the land in their sparkling robe of “authenticity” as the shock troops of the true, those who decline the shabby power games of the “established” and rely on substance. Their appearance could never be pompous enough. With great fanfare, the Greens presented themselves as deeply concerned for peace, the environment, humanity, indeed, that almost the entire planet is being made ill.
But now we see Herr Gastel casually exhaling this bluster like a bad smell. Afterwards, there wafts around us the foul smell of worn-out role-playing purely to please clientele, and any thought of idealism is smothered in its crib. The Green Party in the Bundestag is gifting the ecological aunties in their chic historic-area dwellings, while the governor of the automaker state puts on a brave face for Daimler and Porsche. Heh.
Kretschmann later complained about the “secret” recording and its publication — invasion of privacy or some such. The impression remains that the whole thing was a set-up. We can notice twice that the Württemberger glances at the camera that he supposedly does not know is there. Maybe Kretschmann is playing the part of a Green Seehofer.. To stay in office, he needs more and different voters than the national party can reach. So he has to set himself off publicly. Clever strategy, but not exactly 99 and 44/100 per cent pure.
1. Largest, oldest party-related (SPD) foundation — actually a registered financial association. 2. Some folk sayings associate Swabians with great thrift — the expression “plumper Schwabe” implies awkwardness or crudeness. 3. Recalcitrant, anti-Merkel head of the CSU.
P. T. Barnum would love it. Like so many comedies, there are lots of suckers here. The opposition parties who have seen their programs expropriated by the “conservative” Merkel, the members of a once-conservative party — now trapped in a time-vault of their own making, voters like Monika Maron who can only see what they are allowed to see. And presiding over it all, Angela “Mutti” Merkel, doling out treats to good children and sending bad ones to their rooms without their supper.
And now, from Der Spiegel, the true “villain” of the piece — the AfD and its attempt to claim even more territory on the diminishing Right.
AfD to Supreme Court Against Marriage for All?
July 2, 2017
(Now that the Bundestag has decided on Marriage for All, the AfD intends to challenge it before the Supreme Court. Other politicians also doubt the legality of the decision.)
The AfD is trying out a challenge to the Marriage for All. The leading candidate, Alexander Garland, told Bild am Sonntag that marriage between people of the same sex would create “an arbitrary values system that damages our society.” The Bundestag voted for the opening of marriage to homosexuals on Friday by a great majority.
Domestic Affairs Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) believes a constitutional challenge has a chance of success. He voted against the bill. As a jurist, he believes a change in the constitution would be necessary, he said to the magazine. Furthermore, he said, marriage for him is “a connection between a man and a woman.”
The Union parliamentary leader Volker Kauder (CDU) also said that he was taking into account the advice of constitutional judges. The Bundestag, he criticized, had voted for a “really half-baked bill.”
The former president of the Supreme Court Hans-Jürgen Papier considers the opening of marriage to same-sex couples to be unconstitutional. “If you want to open up marriage, you have to change the constitution,” he said to Spiegel. “Ordinary lawmakers cannot do that.”
A first, gay CDU member immediately announced his marriage to his partner. The Stuttgart Bundestag representative, Stefan Kaufmann, told BamS that this was only a formal step for him. Kaufmann has been partnered since 2013.
1. Publication of Bild am Sonntag.
Irony is not wanting here, either, since Gauland’s running mate is widely known to be in a lesbian relationship, and the couple have a dependent child. To be fair, she is also an anti-Islamist conservative and has even promised to go to Thuringia to campaign alongside Björn Höcke, the party’s enfant terrible and darling of the most conservative anti-Islamists in the AfD. Recently followers of GoV have witnessed a barn-burning speech by party co-chief, Jörg Meuthen, some straight-from-the-shoulder remarks by the party member Beatrix von Storch, and now Gauland makes a play of his own. AfD will not prevail in great numbers — the Hillary Syndrome exists only in the US — but they can hope for a solid, even surprising, entry into the Bundestag. So lift a glass of schnapps to the German Lex Luthor, and here’s hoping he finds some kryptonite.
Last, and definitely least, from that neutral news source, Uprising Against Racism — well, read it yourself.
Three Reasons to Be Against the AfD
The AfD is the partisan expression of a perpetual and broad potential of rightism in Germany. It connects the rightist spectrum from the middle class conservative milieu to the extreme right and is a danger in parliament, in social networks and on the street.
With their presence in the legislatures, the danger increases that the AfD will establish itself as a central rightist player and even further radicalize the fascist aspects of this project.
1. Rabble-rousing against refugees
The AfD is presently rabble-rousing, especially against refugees. It represents immigration and refugees as a threat to people, country and culture, steered by the government, the opposition and the media. It propagates popular prejudice and organizes social discontent racially.
In the process, it tries to play off the interests of the unemployed, the homeless and pensioners against the interests of the refugees, and so fosters hatred which ultimately explodes on the street or in attacks.
We think the real danger is from racists and the discrimination they are spreading. We are stepping up against nationalism and for organized solidarity.
2. Against democracy and participation
The AfD claims to be fighting for democracy and participation, because it is for referendums. Actually the AfD wants to weaken or do away with the elements of democracy that are important for opposition and for minorities. It wants to deprive public broadcasting, state centers for political training, as well as foundations or projects against discrimination and Nazis of their support.
Several years ago the AfD co-founder Konrad Adam already pondered removing the right to vote from “receivers of allotments” — i.e., pensioners, bureaucrats and the unemployed. The AfD is against the minimum wage and wants the removal of the inheritance tax because it suppresses achievement. It wants a tax law that above all unburdens the rich, because they should be taxed like middle income earners.
We are for a true democracy and social justice for all people, regardless of income, gender or origins.
3. Sexist concept of family
The AfD maintains that it is for families. What that means is father-mother-child families and especially the “man” part. That excludes huge portions of society.
The AfD wants to deny women the right to control their own bodies, it wants to withhold significant rights from gays, lesbians and all those who are not heterosexual men or women, and yet deny they are discriminating. They are for doing away with equality officials and indoctrinating schoolchildren with rightist sexual morality.
Our alternative is solidarity!
We want a world in which all people can be different, where children grow up without fear or hate and all have the same rights and receive the social support they need.
Well, as Walter Winchell used to say: “That’s thirty for today.” Did any of that sound familiar? Frighteningly so? Let’s keep our guard up!