The dreads of a renewed German grand-coalition government

image source: Wikimedia Commons Author: user:Kiwiev

In Germany when you give a little official in a government agency a 50 bucks to tell him, that you need a decision made within a week or an appointment on a particular day….etc, This clearly is corruption!
When you secretly meet a member of parliament, a high ranking official etc and give him a €200k and a draft law crafted by a law firm which is on your pay role, it’s called lobbying. The SPD is vastly responsible for this dismaying impression today’s German governments give. And their leaders are now trying to get back into the government.

With the last general elections, the current government was severely punished by the voters. CDU/CSU and SPD combined lost 13.8% in voter approval. For German relations, this is a massive landslide. To understand it as such, you must understand that the typical German doesn’t want change. They are afraid of it. They are governed by disgust towards anything that’s different. Having grown up in Germany with a very German “father”, I also struggle with this trait. So Germans are trapped with what they know and what they are used to.

Although the Social democratic party – SPD still has some 463.000 members, which makes it the political party with by far the most members, it has dramatically lost in voter approval due to its anti-social policies during the last 20 years. Namely the tax reforms in 2000 and the social reforms called Agenda 2010 and Hartz 4 are huge burdens for both, the average citizen’s social security and the SPD’s reputation as a social political party. Basically the SPD no longer is considered as such. The trade unions which are a natural ally of  the SPD also ruined their reputation when they clearly took sides with those who had permanent employment and combated those who were employed through time agencies. The trade unions fighting for more rights, benefits and security for the haves on the expense of the have-nots, also ruined their position. Chancellor Schröder actually was politically ruined and wouldn’t have got a 2nd  term, if there hadn’t been the great flood that allowed him to triumph as the big savior. Then he made things worth and the electorate didn’t allow him a third term but gave the mandate to CDU/CSU and the FDP who then were able to form a coalition.

Many had hoped that the CDU would ease some of the hardships the former government of SPD and the Greens had caused but they were frustrated by the new government. The CDU promised a tax reform drop that item from its agenda in the moment when their victory became tangible. The new Chancellor cleansed her party from opponents and many high ranking members either accepted full alignment with Merkel or they left active politics and minded their own businesses. The coalition of CDU/CSU and FDP brought no improvement. The anti-social social reforms implemented by SPD and Greens stayed in place and the only way to deal with it was a flood of lawsuits that finally reverted the worst hardships. But citizens also experienced that the governments, the former and the present, defended Hartz 4 with all its hardships.

It’s worse than I wrote so far, but I’ll return to this later.

With the elections on September 22nd 2013, the FDP was voted out of the parliament as the party didn’t pass the 5% election threshold. Now CDU/CSU formed a grand coalition with the SPD and this became a moment of truth, because after their term of four years, neither of them could deny responsibility for the state of the republic. During her 3rd term, Merkel made fatal political mistakes that would have caused rebellions in other countries, not so in Germany. Vladimir Iljitsh Uljanov (Lenin) is attributed to have said, that you cannot make a revolution with the Germans, because before they occupy a railway station, they’d buy a ticket first.

Though hated, they still got elected, because they appealed to the Germans fear of change. After the big losses with the general elections on September 24th 2017 the SPD made it very clear that they wouldn’t join the government. All their leaders declared that the electorate had meant them to lead the opposition and being grilled on public TV all their leaders emphasized and assured every time that the SPD would lead the opposition and will not join the government.

Next we saw CDU/CSU, FDP and the Greens failing to form a coalition. Their exploratory talks went for weeks and resulted in the FDP finally leaving the talks, stating that it the state of the talks was so bad that it would be a grave mistake to form a coalition. They primarily blamed the Greens and their absurd demands for the situation, which is comprehensible.

At this point the SPD leadership, in absolute consent with the majority of their members, had maneuvered itself into problematic position: Over months they declared it again and again that they would lead the opposition and they would not lend their hand for another grand coalition. Being grilled on public TV, the party officials unanimously and repeatedly confirmed that they mean it: They will lead the opposition and their “NO” to another grand coalition was irrevocable and carved in stone.

During the coming two weeks we could see how the SPD leadership made a U-turn on their position and now driveled about their responsibility to support the state. While a month before, being asked for snap elections, the SPD leadership unanimously said that they would support to ask the voters another time, now that the polls showed that the approval rate for the SPD continued to fall, they suddenly were in favor of joining another grand-coalition.

In January CDU/CSU and SPD joined their exploratory talks, while the approval rates of both parties continued to fall in opinion polls. On February 5th the CDU/CSU was down to 30.5% and the SPD was down at 17% so compared to the elections on September 24th 2017 the two parties lost another 4.1% and this is a trend, which means, both continue to loose.

The SPD leadership did a “great” job in the negotiations (exploratory talks) and got many ministers. The problem is that their worst leaders will continue to do their worst for the country. There is a difference between the goals of the grand coalitions and who is doing the job. The continued failure of the German government will be attributed to the SPD and Angela Merkel as a person, while the CDU/CSU can build up new leaders who will remain unaffected by this failure.

The CDU/CSU probably would score much better in opinion polls if had a different leadership, but many longtime conservative voters clearly say that they can’t vote for a party with folks like Merkel, Altmaier, Seehofer leading not only the party but also the government. This has become too hard to swallow for many voters, so many of them abstained and many voted for AfD which gained 12.6% and opinion polls meanwhile show 14% to 15% approval rate.

There is another reason why the SPD leadership opted for another grand coalition and this is the outstanding performance of the AfD representatives in the German parliament. They show an overwhelming presence while many of the established parties are not present during debates. AfD representatives  hold good speeches and they know how to inform the public about that. Maybe the SPD would have lead the opposition nominally holding 153 of 709 seats, BUT their performance is low and hardly recognized, while the AfD manages to be recognized as the opposition party respectively as the opposition.

Today the SPD is recognized as treacherous. They pledged to lead the opposition and now they want to rule the country. This will be another round in the learning process of the German electorate.

The two coalition partners, CDU/CSU and SPD, will rule under all circumstances, because their approval rates very likely will continue to drop. We see that every few days, when we watch the opinion polls. In the mean time, the political establishment stands out with their extraordinarily infantile behavior towards the AfD, the new party in the Bundestag. All this is recognized by the voters and it further damages the reputation of the politically established parties.

One of the staggering results of the coalition talks will contribute to this development.

The NGO “Abgeordneten-watch”, an organization that monitors the members of parliament and strongly advocates the introduction of a lobby-register, recently published the above chart, showing the stance of the established political parties towards such an institution. While the SPD claims they were in favor of such a registry and the partners who negotiated for a three-party coalition also ended up approving such a registry, the newly established coalition opposes such a registry. Just to give you a few numbers: In Brussels there are an estimate of 30.000 Lobbyists and in Berlin it’s well over 10.000. And they all try to influence the government. During the last 20 years we often experienced that whole laws have been written by law firms sponsored by lobbyist organizations and they finally got approved. For many citizens, this is an unbearable situation.

We want to know who is a lobbyist and we want to be able to retrace the contacts between politicians, high ranking officials and lobbyists, but the politicians don’t want this. The above chart shows that the negotiators of CDU/CSU, FDP and the Greens had agreed on such a registry, but of course this doesn’t mean that they would have implemented it if they had been able to form a government. Insofar the  new coalition is a bit more honest. At least they say it upfront, that they don’t want it.

This is the case with many things going on in European parliaments and governments today. They are very corrupt, they don’t care about their citizens. And we see this every time when a leftist doesn’t speak about the citizens but about the “civil society”. The left shies away from accepting the citizen. They don’t want citizens, because citizens are grown up and they make their own demands, while the left loves to put the people under guardianship. So my question always is: Who is a member of the civil society? A civilian? So what is the opposite? A soldier?  Police? Ah! You are going to police us?

Well, this is exactly what is happening during the last 20 years. We have encountered civil rights and fundamental freedoms being taken away and partially razed. The last and worst action of  this kind is the “Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz” (NetzDG) a new law that grossly violates article 5 of the German basic law – the article that guarantees free speech. We see the consequences every day when people throughout the republic are silenced as soon as they speak out conservative views while the hard left openly calls for the murder of AfD-members and nobody does a thing about it. The minister who made this law as minister for justice may be re-instated for another 4 years as minister of justice and we already know what he thinks about fundamental freedoms and civil rights.