Clearing out the link trap.
If the CDU’s results are anything like the polls, its leadership is going to be cleared out willy nilly, with numerous top politicians losing their coveted direct mandate parliamentary seats. The classic pol’s solution to this problem is to have your party put you near the top of the proportional list section of the ballot – if you don’t win your direct mandate you’ll probably get in as a list candidate, and although direct mandates trump, if you do win one of your party colleagues will just “nachrücken” and move up the list one spot. However, Armin Laschet’s personal numbers are so dreadful even being the no.1 on the CDU list might not save him.
Wolfgang Schäuble probably won’t need that – his lead in his own patch is over thirty percentage points – but he might not last as speaker of the Bundestag, seeing as the CDU isn’t going to be a majority, the CSU is deeply bitter at him about Laschet’s nomination, and people are angry he hasn’t condemned Hans-George Maaßen enough. Maaßen himself looks likely to be a problem that solves itself, by losing.
The FDP is trying very hard to condemn things while also not actually ruling out any coalition option, even one with Laschet as chancellor and the CDU isn’t the biggest party. With the Left party on 6%, though, the FDP’s chances of being in the coalition are strong pretty much whatever they say.
The distinction between the direct and list candidates always leads to interesting shenanigans. If a party overperforms, not only does it need extra list candidates to get its proportional whack, it also needs to fill the slots that went to direct candidates. This guy is 60th on a SPD regional list but is now unexpectedly faced with power. There will be quite a few like him; the workings of the electoral system mean that the size of the Bundestag varies with the relationship between direct and list candidates, and this year promises to take it well over the current 709 MPs, already a record.
The Greens had a party conference with a week to go and it was awkward, as Robert Habeck could only just restrain himself from saying he should have been the candidate. Fortunately the coalition-making process will probably put off the night of the long cargo bikes reckoning for quite a while.
Here’s a look round the odds and sods. 47 parties are taking part this year, down to the Gardeners’ Party, the Party for a Humane World, and The Base. This is mostly important because the more votes that go to parties that fail to get the necessary 5% or two direct seats, the fewer you need to be a majority in the Bundestag. The biggest and really the only one likely to come close is the Independent Voters. This will be most familiar to AFOE readers as the CSU’s Mini-Me coalition partner in Bavaria, but it’s had a weird pandemic, morphing into an antivax protest group and winning state-level seats outside Bavaria for the first time. Polls put it at 2-4% nationally, but at least on the regional level, the CSU has found it necessary to call it out by name. The Base, meanwhile, is a frankly disturbing collection of virus quacks, Holocaust deniers, and a celebrity hatter practising as a lawyer under a false name, and I have questions as to why it chose a name that’s a literal translation of “Al-Qa’ida”, although its leader is almost certainly wrong in predicting it will get 20 per cent of the vote.
YouTube star Rezo issued his final pre-election rant, denouncing all parties as corrupt and encouraging viewers to vote – presumably for the gardeners or someone? He does seem to be the only actor in the election to mention the whole thing where ice-cream king August von Finck just paid for the whole opposition to doing anything about the Eurozone crisis, other than me.
Candidates are older, richer, and more likely to be men than Germans in general, which isn’t much of a surprise.