Posts tagged ‘bundestagswahl 2009’

September 28, 2009

Liberals, Pirates, and other winners: Germany has voted


Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle

Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle

THE VOTES ARE COUNTED, the champagne bottles stand empty, the tears of triumph and despair have been dried, and Europe’s most populous country is awakening to a new political dawn.

After four years of a grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) under Angela Merkel are about to return to their traditional coalition with the liberal (i.e. business-oriented)  Free Democratic Party (FDP) under its leader Guido Westerwelle, who will likely become foreign minister. The FDP achieved an astonishing triumph vis-à-vis 2005, climbing from 9.8% to a previously unimaginable 14.6%. Angela Merkel’s CDU slipped from 34.2% to 33.8% but remains the largest party. The future Conservative-Liberal government is expected to pursue privatization and deregulation, tax cuts, higher university fees, enhanced family benefits, tougher law and order policies,  increased domestic surveillance, and a more muscular foreign policy. This will come at the expense of social welfare programs, personal freedom, and environmental protection.

The SPD saw its worst result since the founding of the Federal Republic in 1949, plummeting from an anemic  34.2% in 2005 to an appalling 23% this year. …


September 27, 2009

Who I’d vote for: Election day in Germany

IT’S ELECTION DAY IN Germany, and even though I’m not allowed to vote, the country’s saturation with election posters and slogans could drive anyone half crazy. Thank god it will all be over tonight.

Who would I vote for? I’d be tempted to go with the Greens for old time’s sake, although the Pirates intrigue me and my conscience tells me I should really vote for the Animal Protection Party, if only to please my cat. But today I saw a poster that almost made me want to apply for a passport and make a mad dash to the nearest polling station…


September 26, 2009

Al-Qaeda: “An attack on Germany is tempting”


WHENEVER BERLIN’S POLICEMAN START wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying submachine guns, you can tell there’s trouble brewing. This time the reason is clear: On September 25, just two days before the parliamentary election, both al-Qaeda and the Taliban threatened Germany with an attack within the next two weeks if it does not immediately withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

One of the video messages is from Osama Bin Laden personally. It shows an image of the al-Qaeda leader along with a voiceover with German subtitles saying that “Europeans should learn from the mistakes of others.” Bin Laden goes on to say in this five minute-long warning that the killing of civilians in Afghanistan is an act of great injustice, “and justice demands that you halt this injustice and remove your soldiers.”

Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden addresses Europe:
“Learn from the mistakes of others”

The Taliban video features images of German landmarks and politicians, suggesting targeted terrorist attacks and assassinations. “Your operation here against Islam makes an attack on Germany tempting for us mujahedeen,” a Taliban in the video states. A third video features 31 year-old German-Moroccan Islamist Bekkay Harrach, a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda, who warns from his hiding place on the Afghan-Pakistani border…


September 23, 2009

Wealth for everybody! How the Left Party wooes voters

NOT LONG AGO, I posted a sort of photo essay on Europe’s most bizarre political posters. I had great fun researching it, and some of the posters still make me snicker today. But none of them provoke the belly laughs I get on my way to the office every morning. As I hike down Berlin’s Torstrasse and turn onto Tucholskystrasse, this election poster from Germany’s Left Party pops up at least three times in my line of vision:

Reichtum fuer alle

“Wealth for all!” Left Party whip Gregor Gysi promises me. How wonderful! So what if Gysi is an ex-communist lawyer who was formerly employed by the East German “Socialist Unity [Communist] Party” and allegedly cooperated closely with the Stasi to spy on the dissidents he was supposed to be defending? We’ve put all that behind us. What Gysi is promising sounds like pre-Depression Herbert Hoover and “Kingfish” Huey Long (“Every Man a King”), all rolled up together with a hint of Robespierre and Trotsky into a shiny red package…


September 22, 2009

Pirates in Parliament! A new party is boarding Europe

Demonstration protesting the police raid on The Pirate Bay in Stockholm, June 2006

Demonstration protesting the police raid on The Pirate Bay in Stockholm, June 2006

A SPECTER IS HAUNTING Europe – the specter of piracy. First they raided the Spanish Main, then they boarded Hollywood. From there they have moved on to terrorize shipping along the Somali coast, and now they’re staking a claim on European politics. So break out the rum, raise the Jolly Roger, and enjoy the swordplay!

The Pirate Party phenomenon began in Sweden on January 1, 2006, when computer systems designer Rickard Falkvinge launched a website called Within six hours, 75,000 people had joined his new movement, which calls for personal freedom, complete freedom of expression, sweeping privacy rights, increased democracy, and a loosening of copyright laws. Falkvinge traced his new party’s name to The Pirate Bay, a Swedish BitTorrent tracker company founded in 2003 that soon crossed sabres with the Swedish authorities due to illegal downloads of music, videos, and other copyrighted material. As the year progressed, EU authorities tightened copyright and intellectual property rules even further. On May 31, 2006 Swedish police raided and briefly shut down The Pirate Bay, provoking a massive public protest in Stockholm on June 3. (Thanks to this publicity, The Pirate Bay today boasts some 25 million users.)

The Pirates collected signatures over the summer and qualified themselves for the upcoming Riksdag election. In September their candidates received 34,918 votes. While this represented only 0.63% of votes cast, it nonetheless established them as Sweden’s largest non-parliamentary party. At the June elections for the European Parliament, the Pirates polled 7.1 % of the vote and sent their first deputy to Brussels. They likely would have received an even larger share if the other parties had not hastily altered their own positions on Internet copyright regulations in order to drive these pesky freebooters off the high seas. …