For those of you who missed it, elections are well underway in Germany.
Alex Harrowell over at Fistful of Euros, has a good description of what the heck is going on, as well as a good overview of how the election process works in the country, in terms of coalition building.
I will just shed a little light on a few interesting tidbits.
In the eastern realm of the country, there always exists a pretty good turnout for die Linke (“The Left” – the old communist party of yore) and the NPD (the NSDAP, or so one could argue, in its current form). These elections hold true so far. Die Linke is showing a strong performance in both Sachsen and Thüringen, and also, which is always an interesting case study, in Saarland, giving the SPD a run for their money. The NPD are making an appearance in the election results in Thüringen and Sachsen, which shows that they are garnering enough votes to be counted in the results. This will without a doubt be comparable to the other Bundesländer in the east.
The financial crisis has hit Germany very hard because its economy is mainly focused and driven on exports. Therefore, the rather poor performance of the SPD mirrors the troubles that they are having in terms of identity. The CDU has been leaning left, and it seems the German population views them to be doing it a lot better than the traditional workers’ party.
Local European elections always sort of mirror the main issue on the continent today, or rather two issues at present. The first is immigration and the second is of course the financial crisis. There have been talks of a fortress Europe systematically emerging, which is a debate in its own right, but the fact is that Europe is having a lot of difficulty with integrating its large immigration population. Being a social-welfare state, government institutions are just not built to allow easy movement of peoples between various classes, and social mobility for immigrants is rather low, compared to the United States whose institutions are founded upon it, though they are obviously not perfect.
There have been comments that globalization is the United States, and globalization is Americanization, to use it in the negative sense. Immigration policy is a major reason why the U.S. has benefited quite a lot. It still attracts the brightest students from abroad, and still dominates the globe in terms of advanced education, (though the U.S.’ secondary education is in a dire state) which is a major drive for entrepreneurship that increases its ability for innovation. Though after 9/11 there have been major setbacks in this endeavor, and any non-U.S. citizen wanting to work or reside in the country for longer than three months will be able to attest to the rigorous (and outright embarrassing) application process, nevertheless Europe has a tougher job. It has to reform itself entirely from a country that is based on homogeneous principles, to accepting those who become naturalized citizens, who have newly acquired a European passport, to also be German, British or Italian.
Read Harrowell’s article. But in essence, the SPD and CDU (Angela Merkel’s party) are going to lose a few seats, but the latter will still be the dominant party. The biggest winner will be the FDP, Germany’s “catch-all” party, which really shows confusion and a bit indifference regarding the state of affairs in the country. Without the SPD being able to fully capitalize on the financial crisis, which truthfully makes it difficult to point the finger at the other party that they happen to be in a grand coalition with, the status quo will be more or less upheld. What is important is how many votes the FDP will acquire, and what sort of direction they will take when the time comes to build a coalition.
Die Zeit is keeping a tally on the scores for the Bundesländer, in which voting is underway. You don’t need to have a knowledge of German to understand the graph and the results.