Danke les

Monday, April 02, 2007

Rise of the Right

In September 2004 elections were held in the states of Saarland, Brandenburg and Saxony. In the Saarland, the governing CDU was able to remain in power and gained one additional seat in the parliament. The SPD lost seven seats, while the Liberals and Greens were able to re-enter state parliament. Remarkably, and most surprising, the Far-Right National Democratic Party, that had never gotten more than 1 or 2 % in recent decades, received about 4% of the votes (but did not receive a seat in the parliament, because they had not been elected by at least 5% of the voters).

Two weeks later, elections in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony were held: the ruling parties overall lost votes, but they remained in power. However, the ruling CDU in Saxony was forced (due to their losses at the ballots) to form a coalition with the 9,8% party SPD as a junior partner. In Brandenburg the CDU remained junior partner of the SPD. The fact that in Brandenburg the right party Deutsche Volksunion (DVU) re-entered and in Saxony the right party NPD entered the state parliaments caused worries in the traditional political parties.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Conservative comeback

In February 2003, elections took place in the states of Hessen and Lower Saxony, both leading to overwhelming victories for the conservatives. In Hessen, the CDU minister president Roland Koch was re-elected, with his party CDU gaining enough seats to govern without the former coalition partner FDP. In Lower Saxony, the former SPD minister president Sigmar Gabriel lost the elections, leading to an CDU/FDP-government headed by new minister president Christian Wulff (CDU). Both elections are seen as symptomatic for a widespread criticism against the current federal red-green government.

The protest against the Iraq war changed this situation a bit, favouring SPD and Greens.

The latest election in the state of Bavaria led to a landslide victory of the conservatives, gaining not just the majority (as usual), but two thirds of parliamentary seats.

In April 2003, chancellor Schröder announced massive cuts in the social systems, called Agenda 2010. The changes include much-disputed reforms to the labour market and unemployment system, known as Hartz I - Hartz IV.

The European elections on June 13, 2004 brought a staggering defeat for the Social Democrats, who polled only slightly more than 21 %, the lowest election result for the SPD in a nationwide election since the Second World War. Liberals, Greens, conservatives and the far left were the winners of the European election in Germany, because voters were disillusioned by high unemployment and cuts in social security, while the governing SPD party seems to be concerned with quarrels between the party wings and unable to give any clear direction. Many observers believe that this election marked the beginning of the end of the Schröder government and indicates a process in which the SPD party seems to shrink and/or fall apart.