Germany: State election weakens Merkel

Saturday, March 26, 2011

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) survived a narrow vote in elections for the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The right-wing CDU lost 3% of the vote from the previous elections, dropping to 32.6% support. The two other big parties in the state, the far left Die Linke and the centrist Social Democrats (SPD), remained steady on 23.8% and 21.5% respectively.

Merkel’s allies at a federal level — the pro-free market Free Democrats — failed to cross the 5% threshold needed to win a seat, as did the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD).

The lead NPD candidate Matthias Heyder is under investigation for discussing terrorist methods and bomb-making techniques on an online forum. Right-wing and racist violence nearly doubled in Saxony-Anhalt in 2010.

The only clear winner was the Greens, who doubled their support to about 7%.

Overall, there was a clear majority for left and centre-left politics. However, the CDU will retain government because the SPD refuses to enter into coalition with Die Linke.

Instead, the SPD will continue in a “grand coalition” with the CDU. This outcome was clear throughout a campaign in which the SPD suffered media criticism for its “cuddly campaigning” alongside the CDU.

The results bode ill for Merkel’s government, as two key state elections were due to be held on March 27, particularly in the traditionally conservative state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where the CDU looked likely to lose government for the first time since 1953.

Comments

It seems particularly distressing that a purported "Left-Green" publication would persist in the liberal establishment's designation of the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Left or "Left Party" as "far left". This mythos is at the heart of Germany's inability to break it's political gridlock. The truth is that the near left (real social democrats) and anti-establishment left (i.e., "Left Greens") in the country are ideologically aligned under a shared ethos and set of social/economic goals against neo-liberalism. The problem is the Social Democratic party establishment has been captured by the liberal establishment in the ideology which maintains the concept of Die Linke being somehow "Far left", or outside the political mainstream -- when in fact Die Linke holds the exact political ground and ideology that was previously held by the SDP (Social Democrats) before they moved to the neo-liberal right. Because the contemporary Greens have become just another (slightly green-tinged) liberal organization, the logjam of control over the country and economy cannot be broken until the grassroots of the Social Democrats/Greens realize that their only chance for national progress is in the option of an alliance with the "true Left/Social Democratic" party -- Die Linke. It will be the grassroots that shake their party establishments to remove the perceived and imagined "extreme-ness" of Die Linke and to move forward with them -- the only way forward.