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This diary is about the 2013 general election or Wahltag in Germany. It is more of a primer than an in depth analysis. The title reflects this. I was saying this to the election workers outside of the shops today when they were trying to talk to me: Ich bin ein Amerikaner, but I don't think they got the joke.

The election process here is complicated with Erst and Zweitstimmen, Overhangs (not to be confused with hanging chads) and color coding the parties.  

This is a photodiary. One reason I made it a photodiary is to limit the number of parties I would have to write about (There are over 25!) as only the parties that have put up campaign posters are included. Also, it gave me a chance to take a look at how the general election is shaping up in my little neighborhood here in Stuttgart, in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg.  If you want to educate yourself more comprehensively on how the election works here Wikipedia has some good pages in English here and here. Now, let's jump over the orange Zimtplätzchen.

So election season is in full swing in Germany. Chancellor Merkel is looking good for keeping her seat as she goes head to head with Peer Steinbrück.  It really doesn’t seem like much of a contest at this point.  

 I live in Stuttgart-Ost or if you prefer English, Stuttgart-East.  Most of the pictures in this diary are from Stuttgart-Ost.  It is a rather peaceful, working class,  multi-kulti  part of town, a little rougher around the edges, where you live and let live.

One day a couple of months ago I started seeing political posters spring up around the neighborhood.  Being American I
was again surprised that I hadn’t heard anything about an election.  This happened to me when the last election took place here and, I think, the one before that.  The elections here are mercifully short, two months instead of two years.  I’m not a German citizen, although that could change, so I don’t vote – yet - My wife did tell me who she was voting for. I had guessed wrong. Ballots are dropped into the box, literally, just around the corner from us. Paper ballots on a Sunday from 8 in the morning till 6 in the evening. Lots of polling places open for business and plenty of time for everyone to vote. There were maybe 10 people in line ahead of us last time around.

There are two votes for each voter. On the ballot you put a cross in the left hand side of the ballot for the Erststimme or first vote for the candidate the voter would want to represent him in the Bundestag, and one on the right hand side for the Zweitstimme or second vote for the party you want to be in power and there are quite a few parties to choose from. The minimum percentage a party must receive to get a seat in the Bundestag is 5.  You can use your first vote for any candidate and your second vote for any party.  

Let’s start with Merkel’s party, the CDU or Christian Democratic Union.

Pretty standard fare.  Clean cut, upper middle, to upper class looking people. Notice the Dr. title. That is important here. If you are a doctor of some sort you should really put that on everything, except for maybe Christmas cards, and even then I think you might get away with it. The CDU is center-right.  It is more or less a social capitalist party.  That doesn’t make sense to Americans, but just think of using capitalism to make profit to invest into social infrastructure. It has a Christian influence as per its name and a part of their platform is Christian values.  The CDU also wants to increase security/surveillance.  
Germany is strong an so it should stay.
Merkel’s slogan was “Germany is strong and so it should  stay”  but now it has ended up being just a picture of her face with the words “Chancellor for Germany” next to it.  
Chancellor for Germany
She has her detractors, though, and they are tying her with some unpopular programs here. The S21 movement in Stuttgart, which is for the building of a new Central Station
in Stuttgart which the CDU says is important for commerce , but her opponents say it is a money grab and will hurt the Stuttgart environment, particularly the Green U (Park in Stuttgart).

Another line of attack is suggesting that she is a part of the surveillance problem, now that the NSA revelations have come to light, with a poster showing a steel mannequine with a camera for a head dressed in a jacket with pearls and featuring the Merkel-Raute.

The Merkel Raute
which brings us to the Pirates.  
Great Coalition of Surveillance
Stop mass surveillance. Reassess the security laws

The Pirates are undertaking a blitz campaign and their posters are ubiquitous in Stuttgart. Unlike the CDU with pictures of their candidates and no more than a quip for a slogan, quite a few Pirate posters feature an attractive young woman and have more to say.  
I can relate to Pirates 
For a transparant State and
 the Free use of public data
Why am I actually hanging here? Your not really going to vote.
Why does the State want to know that I have nothing to hide? For the protection of the private sphere and the presumption of innocence
Addiction politics instead of a war on drugs. For a pragmatic political addiction which is clarified for the consumer and protects the non-consumer.
The Pirates make their point with some furry non-humans, too.
For a wombat in every household!
Unrealistic election promises? We can make them too!
I’ve got something against filth (corruption)! And you? 
Transparent structures are the basis for a real political participation. We PIRATES commit ourselves to more transparence and more openness in politics.
No other alternative for civil liberties.
This fellow is Jürgen Martin, a pharmaceutical representative. He’s leading the Pirates in my district.
Privatise Religion now!
For the dismantling of the financial and structural priveleges of a religious society.
No one gets smart from the promise of an education.
Each individual has the right to access information and education freely.
We are commited to the equal recognition of all social models in which people take responsibilty for each other.
The poster quoted here is the top one.

The Pirates managed to get 2 percent of the party vote last time around and might get more this time, particularly with the NSA revelations.  They’re seen as being a young and perhaps disorganized party of left leaning liberals focussing too much on Internet and programming issues, but that’s the future, so they’re here to stay.

Courage for the truth. The Euro is dividing Europe
The Alternative for Deutschland  (AFD) party is a recent addition to German politics, being founded as a party this year. They want –obviously- to get rid of the Euro and go back to a national currency.  There are enough people who go along with this, but the majority of Germans want to keep the Euro going.  I can’t figure out much more of their platform, but I get the feeling they are more conservative than not.
Instead of Fascism
Split Real Economy  from  Toxic Assets
Glass-Steagall Separate Banking System NOW
BüSo “Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität or the Civil Rights Solidarity Movement is a LaRouche outgrowth.  I was talking with a guy from this party a couple of months ago who had a table set up in front of the grocery store. I was surprised that a party in Germany would have anything to do with American legislation until I picked up some of the literature and saw the LaRouche label on it. I like a lot of what they have to say, but then I feel like I am being indoctrinated into a cult, so I put the book down and said no when he hit me up for cash.
Strengthen Citizen’s rights
Only with us
(or Pirates)
The Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) or the Free Democratic Party is the current coalition partner with the CDU. They are also a little further to the right than the CDU. They would be closer to our Republicans in the German system. They want a social market economy, but the individual takes precedence over the group.  They want to cut taxes (but say they will protect pensions) and will keep a balanced budget that way.
Only with us:
More money for the rich
Advancement of the Elite
Private Sector Capitalism
Surveillance Fervor
Profit before people
You must be joking!
So that Germany remains strong.
Only with us.
You can get a better sense from the posters how the FDP is viewed here in my neighborhood. It is a fairly old party being founded in 1948 and got about 15 percent of the party vote last election.  The mustache is not real… This poster has Rainer Brüderle on it. He is running at the top of the ticket.
Prohibit Prohibitions!

The Partei der Vernunft (PDF) (Party of Reason)
Austrian school of economics, flat tax, No such thing as global warming caused by humans. Need I say more?

We now come to the Greens.

My Mudda will be the boss.
Stop Black-Yellow
Zweitstimme Green
The Greens are the only original party to form after WWII. They now seem to reflect the rebirth of the country into an environmental political consciousness. The formed a coalition with the SPD in parliament between 1995 and 2008 and  Baden Württemberg elected a Green as its state Prime Minister in 2011
What the farmer can’t recognize I’m not going to eat.
And you?
Euro TON We listen to Europe
EAU Rouge Elektro Pop
Synthi & Roland Palace Orchestra with the Boys from Action does you good
DJ Claudia On the turntables Claudia Roth
Tuesday,  9.10.13
Rocker 33
7:00 €3 entry
Green Youth Stuttgart
I say Hello KITA (Daycare)
And you?
Im gonna be an energy giant
And you?
The Greens are ambitious. The want to convert Germany to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030!
 They also want to introduce a minimum wage and raise taxes to support more social programs.

Die Linke

Instead of train station chaos stop Stuttgart21
Die Linke or the Left(ist) party has origins in East Germany from the SED party (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands) and the Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit - die Wahlalternativ (Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative) from West Germany. They joined forces in 2007 and became The Left  party. They got almost 12 percent of the party vote in 2009, mostly because of the former East German vote.  They will not make a coalition with another party because they are “100 percent social”. They see Hartz IV as a legal state of poverty and want to instate a minimum pension of 1050 Euros per month. They also want to get all troops stationed overseas home.
Instead of collecting bottles: 1050 Euro minimum Euros retirement pension
The time is finally ripe to (re)distribute from high to low.
Summer Movie
Welcome to Germany
They also put on a free show.
Klaus Ernst
Good Work – Good Pay
Good Pension – Even after the election!
Don’t wait any longer!
Get rid of two-class(tier)-medicine
Forbid weapon exports! Stop foreign deployments!
Whoever wants democracy must rid the financial mafia of its power.
Now that we have moved from Right to Center to Left, let’s go Commie for a while. I asked my wife last night if she would still love me if I became a communist. She said “Why not? They have some good ideas.” I really can’t see myself as a communist, since I was raised in an American military family during the Cold  War, so I dropped the subject.
Freedom for Palastine and Kurdistan
The Marxistisch-Leninistische Partei Deutschlands (MLPD) or Marx/Lennin wants  free day care for all children and a 30 hour work week without loss of pay or benefits.  From what I have read they seem to say what Communists always say: that it just hasn’t been tried the right way yet.  We’ll see. Even here in socialist Germany, the MLPD is seen as being extreme.
Workers’ offensive against shifting the burden of the (financial) crisis.
Volker Kraft
Political Worker
Radical Left Revolution – Real Socialism!
Sabotage the NPD Campaign
Tear down and torch NPD Posters
Muzzle the Nazis
Self Organiztion instead of Representative Politics!
Sabotage the Election Spectacle
Gather yourselves together, Organize yourselves! Sabotage the Election!

Now for the other major party apart from the CDU, the SPD.
Whoever gives all must receive more
Minimum Wage 8.50 €
The Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands (SPD) or Social Democratic Party of Germany is Center Left. If the CDU were considered to be counterparts to our Republicans, then the SPD would be the Democrats. They are for a social market economy, but put policy ahead of profit.  They believe in a progressive tax rate that favors the less well off. The SPD also wants to institute a mimimum wage of 8.50 Euros and minimum 850 Euros a month for social security pension.   More child benefits and limiting rent increases are also on their platform.
Your first vote for more daycare
That WE decide
Poor Peer Steinbrück,  He’s got an uphill battle to fight with Merkel, but this sign placement under a gigantic mural one of Munch’s versions of “Schrei der Natur” at Stuttgart Staatsgalerie doesn’t really help his image.  
Milk makes millions of calves lonely!
Real Politics for All!
The „Party Mensch Umwelt Tierschutz“ or Tierschutz party for short is the Party for People, Environment and Animals”, which pretty much covers everything.  Their claim to fame is the national introduction of a vegan diet, a constitutional amendment that all allows animals the same rights as humans and the outlawing of hunting and animal testing.
Social Fairness
Humane Work and Life
Climate Change is a reality
Do you want the 3-hundred year flood?
The Greens are also going after hemp supporters – how much longer?!
This is a part of the Deutscher Hanfverband (DHV) German Hemp Association’s movement.   Evidently the Greens are for decriminalization, except for here in BW where the party is in power.  The CDU position is that marijuana is a gateway drug and ruins lives.
Courage of Diversity
The "Bündnis für Innovation & Gerechtigkeit" (BIG) or in English the Alliance for Innovation and Justice is oriented towards immigrant politics. There are a lot of immigrants in Germany and this party is appealing to them with a dual citizenship plank. They want more immigrants in open political positions and do not believe in same sex unions.

I know this is not very in depth and because I tried to include as many parties as possible and I just was able to get these in. Some of the parties are whack and some are very narrow and focused on one or two issues. These parties I saw no posters for. There are about four or five parties that have posters that I just didn't have time to post.  I skimmed a lot of material.  My first thought was that this would make a great photo diary, but I didn't really have time to get a lot of the shots I wanted so this is more an attempt to get a feel for what is going on here right before the election.


Originally posted to Tank Mountaine on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 07:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Couldn't you have taken pictures of the signs (7+ / 0-)

    in English?

  •  Great Diary. (11+ / 0-)

    We hear so little about German politics over here any bit of information is welcome.  Do you know how long ago they started the left/right ballot in Germany?  I don't remember that from when I took comparative government but that was back in 1980 long before reunification.

    I think I would vote for either the Greens or the Pirates for the party vote if I was a German.

    "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

    by Kevskos on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 08:06:41 PM PDT

    •  I don't know when the L/R ballot started (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, on the cusp

      but my wife who is German thinks it started after the war, which would make sense.

      If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

      by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 12:22:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what do you mean with "L/R ballot"? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tank Mountaine

        If you talk of the "political spectrum", that goes back to Bismarck's time and the Second Empire, and is founded in the seating in the original Reichstag.

        •  Read the diary. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          translatorpro, Tank Mountaine

          Left side of ballot you vote for a specific canidate.  Right side of ballot you vote for a party.

          "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

          by Kevskos on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 07:00:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, you mean the first/second vote system (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mimi, Tank Mountaine, on the cusp

            Yep, thats a feature of the post WW2 basic law.

            But don't be deceived - its only the second vote that actually counts. 1st vote is just personalized window dressing.

            •  That's a bit oversimplified. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Let's recount:

              1st vote goes to a district representative (who is directly and personally elected from the district, same as a congressperson in the US).

              2nd vote goes to a party, nationwide.

              Obviously, in any district, there will be a head-to-head race between two candidates.
              Nationwide, 3-8 parties may have a chance to make it into parliament.

              So, if you favour a certain party, but their candidate for your district tanks in the polls and doesn't have a chance, it makes sense to vote for one out of two candidates who do have a chance (the nicer one / lesser evil), while still voting for your preferred party with your second vote.

              Your party of choice are the Greens. But their candidate for your district is far behind in the polls without the slightest chance to make it.
              The race in your district is between, say, an SPD (social democrat) and a CDU (conservative) candidate.
              You want your preferred party (Greens) in gouvernment. They will need a coalition partner. CDU have stated they don't want to get in touch with the Greens; SPD do want.
              So voting SPD district representative first vote, and Green party nationwide (second vote) makes sense.
              As does voting CDU district representative if he is a really nice guy who accomplished a lot for the district in the past while the SPD guy sucks, while still voting Green with second vote, should it come to that.

              I agree the second vote is more important by far, but the first one is important too and not just cosmetic.

              Furthermore, there are the infamous overhang mandates a party may get if they get more seats than they deserve by party vote, because so many of their district representative candidates got elected by first vote ...

              Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

              by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 07:36:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes... but (0+ / 0-)

                the party will receive the same share of seats according to its second vote tally, regardless if that local guy wins or not. If he wins, he gets a seat. If he loses, someone from that party's list will get a seat.

                Even if a party has more direct seats than it should have alltogether based on second vote (not so easy, as there are twice as many seats as there are districts to begin with), then parliament will be extended until the relation is correct again.

                Second vote is what counts.

        •  I saw a sign that said (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          on the cusp, translatorpro

          first you turn right and then you turn left and thought it was some sort of play on words for a political advertisement, but in fact it was just giving directions to a business.  Had to read the German a couple of times before I realized what was up.

          If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

          by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 05:39:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It does go (3+ / 0-)

        back to the 1949 Constitution.  Should have checked Wikipedia last night, guess my memory of 1980 was not that good, too much beer back then.

        "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

        by Kevskos on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 08:32:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  the prpblem with the Pirates (4+ / 0-)

      even if you both like and trust them, they are unlikely to get past the 5% boundary, thus causing your vote to go wasted.

      •  Thas the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        translatorpro, on the cusp

        beauty of the L/R ballot.  You can vote on one side for a candidate or Party you think has a good chance of winning or getting 5% and use the other vote to voice our opinion,  5% is not a huge threshold.

        "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

        by Kevskos on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 07:04:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  5% threshold (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          5% is not a huge threshold.
          Oh, but it is.
          Sometimes sadly so, if one favours the Pirates, Greens, Left, FDP (liberals) or AfD (anti-Euro) and they fail to make it. Sometimes gladly so, when one of the Neo-Nazi parties like NPD or Die Rechte narrowly miss the threshold.

          You need to consider other peoples' expectations. The polls are very influential.
          Say, you are in favour of the Pirates. But they tank in polls, having completely slept through the NSA affair. Everyone keeps saying they won't make it. So you might decide your vote is better spent on some other party with a reasonably similar agenda who are ranked higher in the polls.

          You can vote on one side for a candidate or Party you think has a good chance of winning or getting 5% and use the other vote to voice our opinion,
          That's a slight misconception, if I understand you correctly.

          First vote (direct district candidate vote) has nothing to do with the 5%.
          You can vote all you like for a candidate who runs for a party which might make 5% overall - if that candidate you voted for in your district doesn't make it in your district, then that first vote of yours won't do anything for the party of your choice.
          Using second vote on a chanceless party to voice your opinion - you can do that, but of course will be giving your vote away without effect.

          Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

          by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 08:14:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure I like the Pirates either (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        on the cusp, translatorpro

        something about them bothers me. Can't quite put my finger on it.  Must be a generational thing? I want to like them, but just ain't sure.

        If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

        by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 05:37:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They aren't yet completely formed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Quite similar to the Greens in the 1980s, who then attracted all kinds of nutjobs who just wanted any platform to be heard. As in those party programs in favour of pedophilia from back then which were now getting back to the green party in these elections and hurt them.

          Pirates currently have some nutjob agenda points like protection for alien abduction victims or some such, side by side with really reasonable ideas like legalizing cannabis, some fiercely capitalist business ideas, some fiercely socialist ones, and some massive misogyny. Remains to be seen what will become of them.

          Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

          by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 08:25:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and Rec'd. (9+ / 0-)

    Fascinating to get a glimpse of how Germany goes about the task of elections. Their issues and party stances seem so sane compared to the way the right wing wackos have hijacked national discourse in this country.

    Germany - and in fact most of Europe - does a lot of things better than the U.S. now. (Sigh)

  •  Awesome work! (10+ / 0-)

    You went through a lot of effort to take all the photos and compile this diary for us and it's much appreciated!  I love finding out how other countries run their elections.

    The Democrats care about you after you're born. --Ed Schultz

    by micsimov on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 10:49:05 PM PDT

  •  Nice diary! (8+ / 0-)

    I always chuckle when I see German election posters: my family name is on every one...I must be famous! I wonder if the Pirates or Greens would do up a fake one with me as a candidate? Either way, it would probably terrorize my conservative German cousins no end. Heh. I'm pretty sure they're good CDU folk.

    I think Angie's going to take it, since the Bavarian election last week saw the CSU returned there. Too many people seem to be too comfortable with 'Mutti' at the helm of the ship of state. Of course Bavaria is not the rest of the BRD, if not more conservative, so we'll see what happens tomorrow. Maybe another coalition?

    Herzlichen Gluckwünsch!

    And yeah, I know tarantulas don't really act like that at all, so no snarking, this is the internet damnit!

    by itzadryheat on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 11:12:57 PM PDT

  •  Heh, perhaps US-German relations (3+ / 0-)

    will be a little more strained... now that a California team overtook the Flugtag world distance record set by a German team in 2012!

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 02:11:25 AM PDT

  •  You're a jelly donut? eom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tank Mountaine
  •  Thanks! (6+ / 0-)

    I'm just settling in Stateside after living in Frankfurt for 17.5 years. Despite never having been able to vote there, I did follow politics and get involved as much as I could.

    I can't count how many times I've said to someone outside Rewe or the train station "Ich bin Amerikaner." At some point I started saying to conservatives "Selbst wenn ich als Amerikaner wählen dürfte, würde ich rot oder grün wählen."

    Once I even demonstratively wore a KPD t-shirt on Wahltag.

    Thanks for this diary. It brings back fond memories.

    Maybe - just maybe - our foremothers and our forefathers came to this land in different ships. But we're all in the same boat now. - Rep. John Lewis

    by bluesheep on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 06:04:11 AM PDT

  •  Terrific diary, Tank, thanks! (6+ / 0-)

    I haven't been keeping very close watch on the campaign, since it's been pretty much a foregone conclusion all along that Angela Merkel will win again easily. The only somewhat open question is how the FDP will do, i.e. if they do not reach the 5% threshold, that will probably result in a "Große Koalition" with the SPD.

    As a non-citizen I can't vote either, but I'm more interested in US politics anyway, even though I don't participate here all that much. I tend to avoid blathering about subjects I know nothing about, which is a favorite American pastime, and not restricted to a particular party.

    Hope things are well with you. I haven't been to Stuttgart lately, but maybe we could have lunch some time if I ever manage a trip there.

    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

    by translatorpro on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 06:05:05 AM PDT

    •  same here... (4+ / 0-)

      I'm just assuming they'll end up with große Koalition and what I'm more interested in is how the smaller parties fare. I've been close to a few really active members of DieLinke for years, and I have a few friends who are active Grüne. Over the years they kept trying to get me to hang posters etc for their respective parties, but I stayed out of the elections. I gladly went to demos and participated in queer groups of both parties educating them about trans* issues. I am and always was more interested in US elections, partly because it feels like there's more at stake.

      I am very glad I know the German system so well, though. Sort of like knowing the rules to a sport like American Football or Baseball if you are from Europe - even if you're not a fan or follower, it can be entertaining to watch on occasion if you know what's going on and how outcomes can play out. My favorite thing to watch for is the inner-party battles that happen within the smaller parties, depending on how close to the dreaded 5% threshold they are.  

      Maybe - just maybe - our foremothers and our forefathers came to this land in different ships. But we're all in the same boat now. - Rep. John Lewis

      by bluesheep on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 06:23:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  THings are well here (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      translatorpro, on the cusp

      and if we ever get down your way, we will be sure to give you a call. Hope you are well too.

      schöne Grüßen!

      If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

      by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 08:00:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  you are wrong about the FDP (3+ / 0-)

    the FDP bills itself as classical liberal party, and in the German political spectrum, is considered to be between the left and right.

    It has governed with both large parties (the "conservative" Christian Democrats and the left wing Social Democrats) in the past, both at federal and state and local level.

    The party is split in a more left leaning civil liberties wing and a more right wing economic liberal wing.

    •  Liberals in Europe (3+ / 0-)

      The FDP is a member party of the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe - the centre grouping in the European Parliament (EP) although it also has member parties in non-EU countries like Russia, Kosova and Bosnia.

      The group consists of parties from both strands of Liberalism - social and economic - although many blend both in different degrees. Some parties like the UK Liberal Democrats have these two "wings" but in other countries separate parties adopt stands much more firmly rooted in the two traditions. Thus in the Netherlands both D66 and the VVD are in ALDE. (Full list at )

      You may note their posters are in blue and gold, the colors of the European flag. These are used by all parties in ALDE during the EP elections and, uniquely for the elections, the party has a pan-European mainfesto.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 07:09:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the heads up (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      translatorpro, cris0000, on the cusp

      I was sorting out the classical liberal thing and couldn't get my head around it. My wife says about the same thing you do.

      If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

      by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 07:42:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My wife cast her vote this morning: (8+ / 0-)

    If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

    by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 07:49:41 AM PDT

    •  How do the zwei Stimmen work? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Suppose party X wins the zweite Stimme but none of its candidates wins the erste Stimme?

      •  Briefly ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FogCityJohn, translatorpro

        Half the seats in the Bundestag are won in single member districts, in exactly the same way as for an American congressional election.

        The party vote determines how many overall mandates (seats) each party gets. This is a proportional allocation. To be allocated seats a party needs at least 5% of the national vote or to win three district mandates (although an Independent or small party would keep the district seat if they win one or two).

        The other half of the seats are allocated to parties based upon the overall number of mandates less the number of districts won. If more districts were won than the proportional number, the size of the Bundestag is increased by what are known as overhang mandates.

        Normally only the CDU/CSU or the SPD win district elections, although the Left can often pick up two or three in the former East Germany.

        The FDP very rarely win a district mandate, but perhaps they should have tried harder this time.

        There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

        by Gary J on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 11:47:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, you are American (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    on the cusp, citisven

    I can tell by your (German) grammar.


    by otto on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 08:58:07 AM PDT

  •  5 Prozent Klausel notwithstanding, that's a lot of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    translatorpro, on the cusp

    parties! Weimarer Republik lebt noch?!

    Vielen Dank, Tank. Gehotlistet!

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT -9.62, -9.13

    by BeninSC on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 09:24:41 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the memories (4+ / 0-)

    I've spent quite a bit of time in the Stuttgart area also (Landkreis Böblingen to the south) and enjoyed seeing this. I was last there in 2009 also during an election and saw similar signs.  It's interesting to see how it's similar to but different than American style campaigning.

    •  Other aspects of campaigning (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      on the cusp, translatorpro, citisven

      The diarist focused on signs, but I also found tabling with tents all done up in party colors to be rather common. Here's a picture of mine from 2009:
      IMG_4892 (this in Würzburg). I didn't take a lot of pictures of the politicking like the diarist, but in walking past and glancing at some parties I wasn't familiar with, I ended up with literature from the German Communist party.

      •  I didn't see any table setups (3+ / 0-)

        until yesterday, the day before the election. I almost got a picture of it - CDU and SPD right next to each other.  I've never been to Würzburg, but I hear it's a nice town. CSU means it somewhere in Bayern. Google says in the northern part.

        If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

        by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 11:39:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think SPD had a table set up near this CSU table (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          on the cusp, translatorpro

          and a couple of other parties did too. Würzburg is a nice city... but then so are many others. I've been there a couple of times. This picture happened to be on a day trip I took there on a weekend. This was August 29, 2009. I don't remember how close to election day it was.

    •  Ditto. I lived in Stuttgart briefly ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      translatorpro, citisven

      back in the early 90s.  It was an interesting time, since my arrival in Germany coincided with German reunification.

      I think the diary gets most of the parties right, at least from what I know of German politics.  It's good to see the German election getting some attention here.  It is Europe's most important economy, after all, so we really ought to be more interested in what's going on there.

      Tipped and recc'd.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 08:07:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some results coming in (4+ / 0-)

    CDU leading in most states, SPD about 8 points behind. Greens are taking 8-10% AFD is on the edge with 4.9, Piraten are under 3%. FDP also under 5%.

    Does not look like Merkel will need a coalition.

    If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

    by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 10:48:58 AM PDT

  •  Maybe you should update, Tank... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    on the cusp, translatorpro, citisven

    Latest(16:00 ET) results show Merkel's CDU posting a big win (and the SPD chancy to even break the 5% barrier) - which this article says would give her a "supermajority" .

    Is there something I'm not understanding here? How does c. 42%  in the vote translate to a "supermajority" ?

    •  this goes (6+ / 0-)

      if a large amount of votes is "wasted" in the sense of that they dont make to 5% cut, then the 42% can be the majority of that part of the votes that did make the cut. And that´s how it would be calculated. Its a proportional system after all.

      say the AfD got 4% and the FDP (not SPD) got 4% (That wont be the result but go with the example). Then that alone leaves only 92% of votes for parties that did make the cut. 50% of that is 46%. So with 46%+1, in that example, one would have an absolute majority.

      There are more things in Germany, such as the Ueberhangmandate which can make it even easier. But it would have to be pretty crass if 42% were sufficient, I have to say.  

      •  Not SPD, the FDP went under the 5% (7+ / 0-)

        and lost their coalition standing with the CDU/CSU. Merkel has said she will more than likely form a coalition with the Reds (SPD) but will wait for things to settle out.  There was some trepidation (?) that she would be able to run the Parliament with a majority, but that seems unlikely. Their is even an outside chance that the other parties could eke out a small percentage win for a large coalition win, but I don't think they want to do it. Not entirely sure, but I think I saw that breakdown before I went to bed last night. (We're 7 or 8 hours ahead over here.)

        If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

        by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 05:27:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No "Supermajority" for Merkel (6+ / 0-)

      OK, first of all: Merkel will most likely not receive enough seats in the German parliament to have a majority of seats for the CDU/CSU.
      There is a 5% threshold for a party to receive representation in the parliament - so quite a few votes will not lead to representatives. Only parties with more than 5% of the 2nd vote are represented in parliament.
      This leads to the effect, that a party (or coalition) can receive the majority of seats in the parliament without receiving the majority of votes overall.
      Keep in mind though, that the sum of all other (opposing) parties will be less than the sum of the governing parties. So the 5%-threshold just limits the parties in parliament, it doesn't skew the overall result in favor of any party above the threshold.
      This time quite a few parties fell below the threshold and their votes will therefore not count in parliament: The FDP ~4.8% (great news!), the Pirates ~2.2%, the AfD ~4.9% and a whole host of minor parties.
      Therefore, to have the majority of seats in parliament a party only needed ~42.x%. Merkels CDU (+CSU) are just a fraction of a percent below what was needed.

      Merkel will need to form a coalition. Probably a so-called "big coalition" of the two major parties CDU/CSU and SPD. There's an off-chance (less than 1% IMO) that she will form a coalition with the green party.

      •  Viele danke! (4+ / 0-)

        As a politically simple-minded narrow-focused American, I'm not familiar with some of the details of Continental proportional-representational elections.

        •  they would be better for you too (5+ / 0-)

          look at the all so frequent gnashing of teeth here that the Dem Party takes liberal votes for granted and moves to the right to gain the center. Thats only sensible in the majority system. People of any "wing" faction will have to vote for a main party even if that party does not at all reflect their "wing", just to avoid rule of the even more opposite other main party.

          Not so in a proportional system. The wing of likeminded people can organize itself as a party, and be proportionally represented. And a government has to get support of enough such thematical parties to have an overall majority. It has therefore to give every supporter something in return and can take noone for granted.

          Thats why proportional systems are more "modern", or, more suitable to a modern, multifaceted society. Especially the US would instantly break out of its debilitating political blockade if it had such a system, and the overriding influence of money there would be instantly broken. (Thus, it won´t get itself this system).

          Of course proportional systems have their own dangers. Not gonna deny that. Yet on balance, I am absolutely glad we (in the NL) don´t have a majority system.

      •  ...welcome...very knowledgable comment... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BeninSC, translatorpro, citisven
        Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

        Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

        by paradise50 on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 05:09:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Germany is not "socialist" (6+ / 0-)

    I'm not surprised to hear RW idiots calling European countries "socialist". Pls don't get infected by this meme. Germany is not "socialist" as you write - it's political system is democratic, it's economic system is a so-called "social market system" (soziale Marktwirtschaft) as opposed to the free market economy (freie Marktwirtschaft). It's basically capitalism with a social safety net.
    Or was "socialist Germany" meant ironically?

    •  You're right, of course (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      on the cusp, translatorpro, Jay C

      I don't really want to fall into that trap. I did use the words ""socialist Germany" once.  Living over here for so long I just see a more or less social economy that translates into a so called "socialist" way of life without the implications of some sort of totalitarianism and a lack of individual choice and freedom.   So, yeah, I think I wrote that with a sort of irony.  When you start to see the pieces of the puzzle you start to realize George Carlin was right when he said that we wanted to win WWII not just for the sake of "freedom" but had, at the structural economic and policy levels other intentions of free market Capitalism.  The "socialist" structures that began with Bismark were too entrenched in the German way of life that they survived the war and up to this day. Even more ironic is that at the end of WWII FDR had a large social market economy running.  It took quite a while for the Capitalists to dismantle it.

      Even Lincoln, a Republican, was no fan of Capitalism -quote:

      Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

      If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

      by Tank Mountaine on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 05:21:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Otherwise a good primer ... (4+ / 0-)

    ... for the dk-community.

  •  great diary (3+ / 0-)

    I'm from Hedelfingen, but live in SF. I was in Stgt this weekend. One thing about the SPD slogan, "Das Wir entscheidet." It's a bit awkward, I didn't get it at first, but I think a better translation than "The We decides" would be "The We is essential." In this case, the verb "enscheiden" isn't so much about making a decision but about making a difference.

    Thanks for the great photos, I've probably walked past some of the exact same ones last week.

    Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

    by citisven on Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 04:17:04 AM PDT

  •  Outstanding Diary! (3+ / 0-)

    I used to live in Germany, in Faurndau, outside of Göppingen. I enjoy keeping up on the German political scene. Thanks for all the pictures!

    Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you-Satchel Paige

    by wagster1969 on Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 07:54:16 AM PDT

  •  thanks for the awesome information.... (3+ / 0-)

    my great Aunt was from Stuttgart and my mom is from Baden-Baden... I miss the pumpernickel bread a lot... :)

    "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

    by Statusquomustgo on Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 11:00:13 AM PDT

  •  Are posters like lawn signs (3+ / 0-)

    Are posters of great importance in German elections, or does it seem that way the posters were the subject o the diary? Do posters serve the same function as lawn signs in US elections?

    Lawn signs last for a long time just like our elections, while posters would seem impractical for anything more than the two months you said elections last. Is that why they play a greater role?

    •  Apples and oranges (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caipirinha, translatorpro

      Lawn signs are like personal statements screaming to everyone who passes by your house who you are going to vote for. Generally speaking, people here just aren't that vocal about politics. There are discussions and I've been in a few, but they happen more quietly.  Here, in the city, there just aren't that many lawns.  I haven't been to the smaller towns where people have houses and lawns, but the acreage is just not as great here as in the States. There are other parts of Stuttgart with houses and lawns and I don't think I've seen one lawn sign or banner. If you have never been here you have to understand that space is at a premium. People here are generally not that public about their vote and once you know Germans you will discover that they really don't want to be putting anything onto their lawns except rose gardens and barbecue grills and hedges which block the view of the yard anyway (I'm generalizing). But you  will see a Mercedes or BMW in just about every garage.

      The signs are of importance because there just isn't a lot (if any) of television and radio advertising for candidates.  In fact, apart from hearing an interview with Steinbrück on the car radio one morning I don't think I've heard any political advertising - and you don't hear "This ad was paid for by X" or ""I'm X and I approve of this message." No, I rather think it is more party politics.

      The signs come up, a couple of months before election, increase in number over the weeks, the vandals come out about a week before the election and do their art Bansky style - this time around cutting the faces away from the rest of the posters with carpet knives so that large empty circles were left above the shoulders. One FDP candidates poster got puppies (not real ones) plastered over his face.  A few got a Führer mustache.

      The posters will come down fairly quickly with German efficiency.

      If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

      by Tank Mountaine on Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 08:46:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i'm remember merkel's first run (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, translatorpro

    in 2006 I think it was, and in Bonn someone had defaced all of her posters with a Hitler mustache.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 12:29:33 PM PDT

  •  this is great--thanks! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 01:57:07 PM PDT

  •  This is a two party only web site. To suggest, (0+ / 0-)

    even by implication, that third party development here in the US might be a good thing is herein considered a very bad thing indeed.

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 08:08:30 AM PDT

    •  You speak a certain truth (0+ / 0-)

      and whether it is truly good or truly bad remains to be seen in the Great Experiment.  I have only the greatest faith in Americans because I am one and know what America can be at her best.  We are on the eve of seeing the ACA become full fledged law, implemented and bringing hope to a new middle class and a stable nation.  Not to mention a President who I have criticized, but who also seems to be on the brink of really earning that Nobel Prize.

      If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

      by Tank Mountaine on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 08:57:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not getting the joke (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tank Mountaine

    The "ich bin ein Amerikaner" joke is lost on them, I suspect, because since you've identified yourself as an American they're almost 100% sure you weren't joking, since no one expects Americans to speak German at all, let alone well. I speak German well, but not quite fluently since I've never lived or studied there. I've met German tourists here in the US with whom I spoke German and they were astonished, absolutely floored, that they had met an American who could get beyond "Guten Tag" and "ein Bier, bitte". Since you live in Stuttgart, you probably deal with this type of shock regularly.

    The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

    by Korkenzieher on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 09:46:38 AM PDT

    •  Survival German (0+ / 0-)

      - ein Bier, bitte.  One they don't teach in school.

      If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

      by Tank Mountaine on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 10:32:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They taught it in my school (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tank Mountaine

        But then again, I'm from Milwaukee, so maybe we're in exception in that regard....

        The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

        by Korkenzieher on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 11:13:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Got my MA at UWM (0+ / 0-)

          Great town, Milwaukee.  Sometimes they had a radio show broadcast entirely in German for the afternoon.  Can't remember the station.  Great memories from my time there.

          If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

          by Tank Mountaine on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 11:21:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Got my BA there (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tank Mountaine

            Poli Sci, but I took all the German classes there as well. Remember that radio show as well, but can't remember what station it was. It was mostly announcements for when the local German societies were celebrating Fasching or Oktoberfest, together with lots of traditional German music. Tedious, but great for the old folks from the old country.

            The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

            by Korkenzieher on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 11:37:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •   I took a lot of German classes there too. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Glad to hear you did well with it and keep it going. Did you have Prof. Davis at all?  

              You really should get over here.  I know some of the classes in the UW system have summer abroad courses open to the public and are fairly inexpensive. You have to live in a dorm for a few weeks.  I see you have a kid from your Madison diary, so probably not an option.

              People aren't that shocked over here when you speak German, even if you do it poorly. They are usually appreciative of the effort but will probably switch over to English if you can't keep up, especially in town.

              If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

              by Tank Mountaine on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 12:15:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Should have done... (0+ / 0-)

                I'm 51 years old, so my days studying abroad and living in dorms are long over. I actually speak German and definitely read German better than I did when I graduated. Thank you, Mr. Internet.

                My wife and I went to Vienna last year. I could read everything, I could make myself understood and received a few compliments for speaking well, but understanding spoken Wiener Deutsch was not always easy. Again, there, lots of English speakers to help.

                Not acquainted with Prof. Davis. The teachers I had, all of whom were brilliant, were Professors Schwertfeger, Moore and Rauscher. Dr. Rauscher was the department chair, and was universally beloved. There was a half-page obit in the Milwaukee paper when he passed several years ago. I was at UWM in the early 80's, so I suppose all of my teachers are gone, as none of them were particularly young at the time.

                The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

                by Korkenzieher on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 02:25:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Prof. Schwertfeger (0+ / 0-)

                  If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

                  by Tank Mountaine on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 04:37:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Astonishing (0+ / 0-)

                    I just assumed they'd all be gone. Apparently she just teaches graduate level classes now; I had her for a couple of 300 level classes. She's brilliant and funny and patient; one of those professors whose classes you'd go out of your way to take just because she taught it. It was always sort of funny. She has that last name, but she's Irish, with an Irish accent and sense of humor and charm. Meanwhile, Dr. Moore, a professor with a Irish last name, was a native German, with a very deadpan, German sense of humor.

                    That whole department was stellar at the time, really. No bad ones. Wish I could say the same about the Poli Sci department, which is where I got my degree.

                    Thanks for passing this along!

                    The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

                    by Korkenzieher on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 06:57:56 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

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