German Election Political Crisis Roundup

In the maelstrom, one thing is clear: SPD General Secretary Franz Müntefering, he of the Kapitalismusdebatte, is staying in his post after the parliamentary party voted by a 93% majority to keep him. In other news: Earth continues to orbit Sun, Pope Benedict says committed to Catholicism, bear sighted shitting in woods. His talents in the smoke-filled backroom will be needed, as SPD-CDU, SPD-Green, and CDU-FDP negotiations were announced today. No word on Green-FDP conversations…and nobody wants to play with Oskar and Gregor in the naughty corner.

Angela Merkel may fall prey to the CDU’s Old Grey Man tendency as early as this afternoon, when she presents herself for re-election as parliamentary party leader. There are no other candidates, this being something of a ritual in German and Austrian politics, but if the OGMs are sufficiently angry about their campaign’s spectacular train crash, she could be on her way to join Joschka Fischer and Paul Kirchhof in obscurity by tonight…actually, hold that, she has been re-elected by 98.6% of the vote. Which is actually better than she got before the disastrous election campaign – work that out.

Here, we learn that the CSU has been thrown into a horridly intense introspection nightmare, as Dr. Gonzo might have put it, by the fact that they polled less than 50% for only the second time in their history. 49.6% doesn’t sound at all bad, until you remember that they don’t really have democracy in Bavaria, they have the CSU and its VERY long-lasting leaders, who play on Bavarian local patriotism and Catholic conservatism to claim a monster powerbase. The other parties’ comparative success may have the unintended consequence of saving Angela Merkel, because the CSU can hardly say “Told you so, we should have gone with a real man like Stoiber” if they buggered up their own campaign. Interestingly, it was none other than Edmund Stoiber who formally nominated Merkel as fraction leader – presumably signalling loyalty?

The old crook Wolfgang Schäuble, whose political career mysteriously continues to survive his disgrace in the Helmut Kohl party funding scandal, spoke out for a Jamaica coalition. He says it’s “our duty as democrats” and that a government without Merkel is “unthinkable”. Do not believe a word this man says. The Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s interviewer describes the grand coalition as the Elefantenhochzeit or elephants’ wedding – can we start using that?

In other dishonesty-related news, Franz Müntefering is trying to make out that the SPD is really the biggest single party and hence entitled to form a government on the grounds that the CDU and CSU are two separate entities. Jeer at the absurd sophistry!

Renate Künast is to take over Fischer’s duties pro tempore, reports the Austrian newspaper whose website uses frames. Check out the conspiracy madness in the forums; apparently Fischer is plotting to put Künast in so as to achieve a Jamaica coalition, because he’s a warmonger. Sometimes Der Standard’s forums make me glad I don’t live in Vienna any more and don’t have to listen to this infantile nonsense.

The appalling tabloid Bild Zeitung, who I refuse to link to, claims Schröder will drop his demand for the Chancellery if the CDU pick someone other than Merkel. Given 98.6% of them just voted for her, I take it that statement is no longer operative.

13 thoughts on “German Election Political Crisis Roundup

  1. What are Stoiber’s chances of becoming Chancellor? Can anybody provide links as to his voting policies in terms of energy, tax reform, social benefits and EU accession?

  2. What are Stoiber’s chances of becoming Chancellor?

    Very small.

    We have genuine news, BTW.
    Köhler has spoken. He is calling on the parties to form stable governments. I guess that means that there won’t be a minority government. Not surprising, really.

  3. Also, one arithmetic that seems to be missing from every analysis out there: 51% of all Germans voted left-wing to extreme left-wing (SPD-Green-Linkspartei). There goes the thesis that some kind of ‘conservative revolution’ was going on in Europe. Not even the French are voting this leftish!

  4. In re: CDU and CSU.

    They have different positions; they have different leaders; they have different names; they have different levels of support. Are they not separate parties? If not, then of what, precisely, is Hr Dr Edmund Stoiber chairman?

    Of course it’s a cheeky move by Münterfering to point this out. Doesn’t make him wrong.

  5. CDU and CSU are indisputably separate and distinct parties. They even have different origins. The CDU is the old Zentrum, except that in its resurrected form it is no longer a specifically Roman Catholic confessional party. Their Bavarian partner evolved, IIANM, from the pre-NS Bayerische Volkspartei.

    Müntefering isn’t wrong to state that CDU and CSU are separate parties. But that fact is irrelevant to his argument that SPD has first dibs at naming a chancellor, because what matters in the Bundestag is not party but ‘caucus’ (Fraktion). And CDU/CSU do form a unified Fraktion. They do not compete anywhere in Germany. (You might recall that, shortly after unification, the CSU sponsored an eastern puppet — the DSU — that might have been a trial balloon for dissolving the Fraktion. Whether it was or not, in the event the DSU didn’t come to anything and has long since disappeared.)

    Mind you, just because Müntefering is playing cute doesn’t mean that the Union naming the chancellor in a grand coalition is a constitutional imperative. And it’s true that the Union, with this formally correct but itself rather cute ‘two parties, one Fraktion’ distinction, is on a number of fronts able to have its cake and eat it too.

  6. BTW, those of you who share the CSU’s ideals should really consider showing your support in a material way at the party’s online shop. If (for instance) you’re a clericalist-conservative woman who hasn’t let too much Hax’n and Weissbier ruin her figure, what better way to show the world you’re schwarz than this weiss-blauer bikini? A so wos fesches!

  7. Just out of interest, can someone with greater knowledge of German politics tell me if there is some written or (far more likely) unwritten CDU/CSU Frakion rule that every three or four federal elections the CSU leader has to be the Fraktion’s candidate for chancellor? Presumably this would be justified in that the CDU is something 3 or 4 times bigger than the Bavarian cousin, but that would probably be just the cover story. As far as I know, the CSU leader has run for chancellor only twice (Strauss in 1980 and Stoiber in 2002), but I’m curious about the mechanism by which they decide which party leader will be the top dog.

  8. @ Colin:
    Excellent question.

    No, there is no such understanding.
    And the fact that there are actually 2 parties who have to agree on 1 candidate makes the selection process somewhat troublesome.
    The process is very informal and the matter is generally settled by arrangement between the two party leaders (in 2002 for instance, the decisive meeting was at breakfast in Mr Stoiber’s house).
    Of course, if none of them is willing to back down, things can get messy.

    The fact that there are two parties involved, makes it impossible to chose a candidate by mor conventional methods such as a vote of the party members or by a party assembly.

  9. Stratfor Morning Intelligence Brief – Sept. 23, 2005

    “1149 GMT — GERMANY — Survey results released Sept. 23 in Germany show that 47 percent of those polled want Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Angela Merkel to be the country’s next chancellor, and 44 percent favor incumbent Gerhard Schroeder of the Social Democrats. The Emnid polling institute survey also shows that 73 percent oppose new elections to resolve the standoff. One in four Germans backs a coalition government between Merkel and Schroeder’s parties, and one in three prefers a coalition of the CDU, sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the liberal Free Democrats and the environmentalist Greens.”

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