13/07/2005

German Elections Special

It all started with the devastating defeat of the Social Democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia; after 39 years in power, they lost the state elections on May 22 to the CDU. With 37.1 percent of the vote (5.7 percent less than in 2000), the SPD had its worst election results in the state in 50 years. At the same time the defeat marked the end of the last state government coalition of the SDP and the Green Party.

Two things followed: Chancellor Gerhard Schröder immediately declared that he wanted to schedule new elections in the autumn of this year. Following a self-initiated parliamentary vote of non-confidence in his leadership, Schröder now awaits German President Köhler's decision on whether elections can be held this fall. And in their anticipation, a new leftist alliance has been founded, the Linkspartei, bringing together the PDS (successor party to the East German communist party) and the WASG (the West German Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice). Polls show the new alliance could win ten percent of the vote.

The probable fall election has stirred up German politics in a major way: What will become of the labour-oriented SPD? Will the Linkspartei replace the Greens as Germany's third strongest party? And above all: What do the conservatives want? We have put together a collection of articles.

The last rock 'n' roller of German politics
Joschka Fischer, Germany's Foreign Minister and figurehead of the Green Party, has announced that he will be stepping back from the political front line with the end of the red-green government. In an interview with the taz, Fischer reflects on what this means for his party, his country and himself.
read more

What was Schröder on?

There was something surreal about Gerhard Schröder's appearence on national television last night. Although his party was second in the polls, Schröder saw the victory quite clearly as his own. And anyone who saw matters differently, an idiot. Arno Widmann asks the question that is on the minds of many Germans today: what was Schröder on?
read more

Indulging a penchant for paradox
What do you get when you cross Left and Right? Gerhard Schröder the double paradox: a chancellor who backs social protest against his own policies, and a ruler who deprives himself of power in a bid to reclaim it. By Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
read more

Standing in file
Tanja Dückers writes a huffy retort to Eva Menasse's recent claim that German writers' refusal to take a public stance in the federal election campaign reflects opportunism.
read more

Writers! Break free of your routine!
Why I'm getting involved in the current federal election campaign. By Eva Menasse
read more

Sighing, sweating, screeching
The run-up to the German federal elections is awash with blood, sweat and tears as Schröder, Merkel and Co. give their all. But the voters aren't having any of it. By Jörg Lau
read more


Merkel's a total cutie!
Christoph Schlingensief's controversial "Parsifal" is showing at the Wagner Festival for the second year running. He talks to Tina Hildebrandt and Stephan Lebert about hero impersonators in politics, zombies in Bayreuth and pre-election Germany.
read more

The big lie

Sociologist Ulrich Beck explains why German politicians' idea of full employment is an illusion and why Kafka's works belong to the classics of sociology.
read more

What do the conservatives want?
If Germany's conservatives win the coming elections in September they'll be more powerful than ever before. But what do they actually want? By Gustav Seibt
read more

Who are Germany's new young conservatives?
Now that Gerhard Schröder has admitted failure to himself and the rest of the world, German conservatives are being summoned back from political Siberia and pushed into the spotlight. But are they even still alive? By Mariam Lau
read more

Writers warn about Linkspartei
A group of German writers have signed a public condemnation against what it sees as dangerously populist sentiments behind the new 'Linkspartei'.
read more

Merkel's new middle
The Germany that makes the headlines is one of hedge-fund 'locusts' and burgeoning numbers of unemployed. Don't believe the hype: the upcoming German federal elections will be fought out in the middle. But unless the Germans stop expecting to be spoon fed by the state, and get proactive, little will be gained by a change of government. By Paul Nolte
read more

The Berlin Republic
So cunning is history: The cornerstones of the Berlin Republic – the departure from the social market economy, the rediscovery of war, the mistrust of the state for its citizens, the historicisation of the Holocaust – were laid by the West German 68ers. An attempt by a member of the old German Federal Republic to come to terms with the country he lives in. By Arno Widmann
read more

Loveable losers in the Ruhrpott
The surprising defeat of the SPD in the state elections in North-Rhine Westphalia has set a process in motion that will probably result in new federal leadership in Germany. Writer and comedian Frank Goosen describes in an interview what his fellow Ruhrpotters think about this, if anything at all.
read more

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

This kiss for the whole world

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who actually owns "intellectual property"?  The German media that defend the concept of intellectual property as "real" property are the first to appropriate such rights, and they are using this idea as a defensive weapon. With lawmakers extending copyright laws and new structures emerging on the internet, intellectual property poses a serious challenge to the public domain. A survey of the German media landscape by Thierry Chervel
read more

Suddenly we know we are many

Wednesday 4th January, 2012

Why the Russian youth have tolerated the political situation in their country for so long and why they are no longer tolerant. The poet Natalia Klyuchareva explains the background to the protests on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow on December 10th. Image: Leonid Faerberg
read more

The Republic of Europe

Tuesday 20 December, 2011

Thanks to Radoslaw Sikorski's speech in Berlin, Poland has at last joined the big European debate about restructuring the EU in connection with the euro crisis. The "European Reformation" advocated by Germany does not mean that the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation will be established in Europe, but instead – let us hope – the Republic of Europe. By Adam Krzeminski
read more

Brown is not red

Tuesday 13 December, 2011

TeaserPicFilmmaker and theatre director Andres Veiel disagrees with the parallels currently being drawn between left-wing and right-wing violence in Germany. The RAF is the wrong model for the Zwickau neo-Nazi group, the so-called "Brown Army Faction" responsible for a series of murders of Turkish small business owners. Unlike the RAF, this group never publicly claimed responsibility for their crimes. Veiel is emphatic - you have to look at the biographies of the perpetrators. An interview with Heike Karen Runge.
read more

Legacy of denial

Tuesday 29 November, 2011

TeaserPicGermany has been rocked by the disclosures surrounding the series of neo-Nazi murders of Turkish citizens. In the wake of these events, Former GDR dissident Freya Klier calls for an honest look at the xenophobia cultivated by the policies of the former East Germany, where the core of the so-called "Brown Army Faction" was based. And demands that East Germans finally confront a long-denied past. (Photo: © Nadja Klier)
read more

Nausea in Paris

Monday 14 November, 2011

TeaserPicIn response to the arson attack on the offices of the Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on November 2, Danish critic and semiotician Frederik Stjernfelt is nauseated by the opinions voiced against the publication, especially in the British and American media. Why don't they see that Islamism is right-wing extremism?
read more

Just one pyramid

Monday 10 October, 2011

Activist and author, Andri Snaer Magnason is among the Icelandic guests of honor at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. His book and film "Dreamland" is both an ecological call to action and a polemic. "The politicians took one of the most beautiful parts of Iceland and offered it to unscrupulous companies," says the author in a critique of his native country. By Daniela Zinser
read more

Dark side of the light

Monday 3 October 2011

In their book "Lügendes Licht" (lying light) Thomas Worm and Claudia Karstedt explore the darker side of the EU ban on incandescent bulbs. From disposal issues to energy efficiency, the low-energy bulb is not necessarily a beacon of a greener future. By Brigitte Werneburg
read more

Lubricious puritanism

Tuesday 30 August, 2011

The malice of the American media in the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a symptom of sexual uptightness that borders on the sinister, and the feminists have joined forces with the religious Right to see it through. We can learn much from America, but not when it comes to the art of love. By Pascal Bruckner
read more

Much ado about Sarrazin

Monday 22 August 2011

Published a year ago, the controversial book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" (Germany is doing away with itself) by former banker and Berlin Finance Senator Thilo Sarrazin sparked intense discussion. Hamed Abdel-Samad asks: what has the Sarrazin debate achieved beyond polarisation and insult? And how can Germany avoid cultivating its own classes of "future foreigners"?
read more

Economic giant, political dwarf

Wednesday 3 August, 2011

Germany's growing imbalance between economic and political competence is worsening the European crisis and indeed the crisis of Nato. The country has ceased to make any political signals at all and demonstrates a conspicuous lack of responsibility for what takes place beyond its own borders. This smug isolationism is linked to strains of old anti-Western and anti-political, anti-parliamentarian sentiment that is pure provincialism. By Karl Heinz Bohrer
read more

Sound and fury

Monday 11 April 2011

Budapest is shimmering with culture but Hungary's nationalist government is throwing its weight about in cultural life, effecting censorship through budget cuts and putting its own people in the top-level cultural positions. Government tolerance of hate campaigns against Jews and gays has provoked the likes of Andras Schiff, Agnes Heller, Bela Tarr and Andre Fischer to raise their voices in defence of basic human rights. But a lot of people are simply scared. By Volker Hagedorn
read more

The self-determination delusion

Monday 28 March, 2011

TeaserPicA Dutch action group for free will wants to give all people the right to assisted suicide. But can this be achieved without us ending up somewhere we never wanted to go? Gerbert van Loenen has grave doubts.
read more

Revolution without guarantee

Monday 21 February, 2011

Saying revolution and freedom is not the same as saying democracy, respect for minorities, equal rights and good relations with neighbouring nations. All this has yet to be achieved. We welcome the Arab revolution and will continue to watch with our eyes open to the potential dangers. By Andre Glucksmann
read more

Pascal Bruckner and the reality disconnect

Friday 14 January, 2011

The French writer Pascal Bruckner wants to forbid a word. Which sounds more like a typically German obsession. But for Bruckner, "Islamophobia" is one of "those expressions which we dearly need to banish from our vocabulary". One asks oneself with some trepidation which other words we "dearly need" to get rid of: Right-wing populism? Racism? Relativism? By Alan Posener
read more