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GoetheInstitute

24/05/2005

In Today's Feuilletons

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

On Sunday, the 39 year reign of the Social Democatic Party in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia was broken. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced he would seek a federal election this coming fall. Early elections can only be called in Germany after a vote of non-confidence is held in the Bundestag, or parliament. Schröder envisages holding that vote in early July. Today's feuilletons are in election fever.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24.05.2005

Sociologist Heinz Bude is beside himself at Schröder's Machiavellian surprise coup. "This time politics was one step ahead of all the commentators, thanks to its clear view of its own situation. This was a textbook case of how a fervent political chess move can positively shake up the entire equation of political interests. The winner of the evening was not the political entrepreneur, who like everybody else thinks only of himself and his interests. The winner was the political virtuoso, testing himself against Dame Fortune, more interested in finding a last resort in hopeless situation, improbable as it may be, than success for his party." In political terms, Bude finds the events extremely exciting. "What is up for decision? What the Left will vote for, and what the Right will vote for, must be thoroughly examined. But whatever is voted on, and whatever the result, the decision to put forward the election will loosen a knot in Germany and clear the breach for something new. Just this will earn Schröder the voters' thanks. Finally something is happening, finally something is being gambled, finally things no longer take ages to happen. Maybe even the boundary between act and fact could be blurred, so that what today seems improbable may become possible."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 24.05.2005

"We're moving towards a solution", writes Frank Schirrmacher. For him, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's announcement that he would hold new elections marks a "Zero Hour". Germany can start afresh and do everything better. The previous mood-dictated democracy is over. "Now each individual will do a cash check. And that includes exactly those critics of capitalism who were always buffered by a good level of basic social provision. For decades they have only voted ideologically and aesthetically – and at the end only aesthetically. The voters' long journey back to themselves now ends with their own material interests. Armed with paper and pencils, they will now literally figure out which government they can afford."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 24.05.2005

Ina Hartwig explains why the election results in North Rhine-Westphalia "do not in fact put the Red-Green (Social Democrat and Green party) mentality so dramatically in question." In her view, Europe "has adopted scores of directives that are rooted in the Red-Green (or left-liberal) mentality. For example on equal opportunities, environmental protection and anti-discrimination. So the waning star of faith in the Red-Green project on the federal level is counterbalanced on the European level. And for this reason there is no real sentiment of drama that the majority is shifting in Germany. Even conservative governments are forced to respect the EU guidelines. A CDU government in Berlin, for example, would have to adopt the European anti-discrimination guidelines in German law, just like the Red-Green government, although the latter recieves no end of flack for it." Hartwig concludes: "Conservatives cannot act as conservatively on the European level as they do in their own country."


Die Tageszeitung, 24.05.2005

In the culture section, Ralph Bollmann analyses Chancellor Schröder's strategy as weariness with the tactics of fatigue, and a new search for the decisive battle. But Schröder's "dramatisation of politics" brings with it its own deceptions: "In the history of the Federal Republic, no chancellor has set so much store on the strategy of vanquishment as Schröder. No chancellor has so often searched for the decisive battle. And no chancellor has dramatised political life in Germany as he has done. Schröder's chancellorship is coming to an end. If there is one image that will remain, it is that of the chancellor standing in front of the grey wall in the press room of the pompous chancellery, announcing his bold decisions in dramatic moments."


Other stories

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 24.05.2005

Peter Kropmanns visits an exhibition of Romanic art under the Capetian dynasty in the Louvre museum in Paris, finding it spellbinding, if a touch too soberly presented. "On display are above all arches, reliefs and sculptures, liturgical objects and relics, book illumination and glass painting. The exhibits display a striking degree of difficulty, naivete and schematisation, above all when you consider the sophisticated tastes, austerity and elegance of Gothic works of art, among which they are leading examples. The inventive skill of Romanic art is held back by just a few basic principles. Dimension plays no role in the treatment of perspective and proportion; far more attention is paid to gestural expression."

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