The Greens and Social Democrats in Germany just lost big
September 24, 2001 9:47 AM   Subscribe

The Greens and Social Democrats in Germany just lost big in local elections in Hamburg this weekend. Is this the first political fallout from the "War on Terror"? (Here's an English link too, from the Sydney Morning Herald. Couldn't find anything in the U.S. press--thank heaven for Australians.)
posted by gimonca (15 comments total)
Here's another English link if you're interested. I'm sure and will have stuff too.
posted by Summer at 10:12 AM on September 24, 2001

it's disturbing, if in fact voters supported the "crackdown on immigration" platform because of the terrorists.

I've been wondering what the next four years of elections will show, in the U.S. in particular. For the first time in a long time, foreign policy will get people elected in the U.S., and I don't imagine our isolationist tendencies (which do exist, and are countered, it seems, mainly by our businesspeople's interest in foreign markets and in our need for global economic stability) will disappear over night.

So I'm afraid that we might start electing politicians who campaign for curtailing immigration and against offering support (even economic support) to foreign nations that might, now or down the road, be home to terrorists that lash out against us; it seems clear that we need to improve our standing with the rest of the world, not withdraw from it.

So if this is a first sign of what's to come, I'm scared....
posted by mattpfeff at 10:19 AM on September 24, 2001

He sounds like a right bastard, but, to be fair, I don't know anything about the political leanings of Hamburgers (?). There has been a lot of heated debate about asylum seekers in Europe recently so this could be as much about that as about the WTC attacks. I can't see the current situation being the only reason for a huge leap to the right. Mind you, Germans have a had a big problem with Arabs since the Turkish gastarbeiter came in after the war.
posted by Summer at 10:32 AM on September 24, 2001

summer: "Mind you, Germans have a had a big problem with Arabs since the Turkish gastarbeiter came in after the war.

not to nitpick, but Turks aren't Arabs, they're Turks. It's not a small point, especially since the Ottoman empire invaded a large part of the Arab world and contributed significantly to the current mish-mash, as much as any western colonialist power.
posted by signal at 11:10 AM on September 24, 2001

At the same time, the reformed Communists are set to take power in Poland, leaving Solidarity with precisely no seats. So it's swings and roundabouts.
posted by holgate at 11:23 AM on September 24, 2001

mattpfeff: why is someone in favor of enforcing existing immigration laws (whether in Germany or anywhere) "scary"?

if you don't agree with a laws, then work to change it. what is REALLY scary are countries where the rule of law is not in effect.
posted by justkurt at 11:26 AM on September 24, 2001

Don't agree that there will be renewed isolationism as consequence of attacks. I think it seems fairly clear that if anything, the US needs to be even more engaged and knowledgable about the world. Foreign policy will become more important, and that's a good thing. Right now we seem to have increased links to India, and maybe after all this, Pakistan and the other moderate Islamic regimes.
posted by Charmian at 11:32 AM on September 24, 2001

I heard somewhere that in about 25 years, Turks will make up a new majority in Germany, which I found very surprising. I always thought that Germany was strict on immigration and--quite frankly--wasn't that diverse at all.
posted by Witold at 11:47 AM on September 24, 2001

As an American who is temporarily in Hamburg at the moment, the general consensus here (at least in the left-leaning neighborhood of St. Pauli) is that the right-wing victory was largely because of a huge bloc of older, more reactionary voters and the average people who simply cast their vote at the polls and remain relatively non-political during the rest of the year. The CDU (the German equivalent of the U.S. Democrat Party) campaigned vigorously on an issue that now seems quite trivial by comparison (drug dealers behind the Central Station) to the WTC crisis. And I think that's what killed them in the end.

The Left here is alive and well, but the question right now is how they are being perceived at the moment. Roughly 2,000 people showed up for a peace rally a few days after the bombing. This was covered by the German equivalent of National Public Radio. Despite this turnout, it's worth noting that the European majority cries out for military action (although with less numbers than the U.S.). It's quite possible that these voting victories happened because the Greens were perceived as more fringe because of the peace rally and the tough-on-crime stance of the CDU was considered not tough enough.
posted by ed at 12:01 PM on September 24, 2001

I'm not against immigration laws. What's scary (if in fact that's what happened -- I'm not concluding anything, just afraid of the possibility) is the possibility of a reactionary turn in U.S. public opinion against immigration, or against involvement in global affairs. I have no doubt that politicians will campaign on that platform, trying to raise political capital on the idea that this happened because we were too involved in foreign affairs, and let too many foreigners into our country.

Charmian, I do hope you're right, and I do think there's a good chance you are. (Politicians can't afford to be very isolationist these days because they need money from big business; also, for now at least, people want to get the terrorists.) But, what I was trying to say, I'm afraid what will happen if you're not; I think that would be big trouble.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:02 PM on September 24, 2001

Did anyone else notice the full page ad in the NYTimes last week, from "the City of Hamburg" offering us their sympathy and prayers? I know it's a bit off topic, but I thought that was a great thing for them to do. Anyone have any ideas why Hamburg (and no other cities, as far I saw) would do such a thing?
posted by Samsonov14 at 1:00 PM on September 24, 2001

Samsonov14: It wasn't just Hamburg. 200,000 Germans gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

The people in Germany, for the most part, has been extremely sympathetic and supportive of America. Even a stranger in the street, hearing me speak English with an obvious U.S. accent, came up to me on the Thursday after the bombing and gave me a hug. I was incredibly moved by that.
posted by ed at 4:13 PM on September 24, 2001

Is this the first political fallout from the "War on Terror"?

Sadly, the Australian government's hardline stance on asylum-seekers has also been well and truly boosted by the WTC attack.
posted by blue at 9:32 PM on September 24, 2001

The result in Hamburg has little to do with 9.11. Schill (a Haider-like populist with "law and order" slogans) was already estimated to be at 15-20% before the attacks, mainly because he had large support from the Hamburg media. (I also attribute it to the fact that his competitors have mostly been trying to copy his platform under the label of traditional politics while trying to portray him as an extremist -- which he, unfortunately, is not when compared to mainstream conservatives, who are just as bad.)

gimonca's summary is inccorect in that the Social Democrats hardly lost any voters. The conservatives received the strongest hit, and the Greens also had strong losses (which are pard of a national downward trend for the Greens since 1998, because they have given in to corporate interests and "coalition stability" instead of sticking to their values).

Schill's victory can be explained by the disappointment in traditional politics, even though voters seem to think that the Social Democrats are currently doing the best job. It probably doesn't make much of a difference what Schill told them, most important was that he told them he had easy solutions for complex problems (without, at the same time, endangering vested interests -- which would be necessary to really solve the problems).

There will be a change in political power, but mostly because the conservatives have decided to partner with the "liberals" (in Germany that mainly means pro-industry) and Schill -- an opportunist political move which is despised by many SPD-voters, who feel that by doing that, the conservatives are helping Schill become mainstream. Fortunately, Schill's platform, which is comparable to Bavaria's CSU, is not relevant anywhere but in Hamburg (yet). By the way, from the US POV, even Schill must probably be considered a "moderate". His politics are mainstream both by Democratic and Republican standards. Since the US are gradually turning into a corporate prison/police state, that is obviously not a good thing.

Of course, the only political party in Germany worth voting for is the PDS, the Party for Democratic Socialism, but they barely made it into the national parliament in 1998 because voting for them is taboo. The city election in Berlin in October will be interesting, because they have a pretty strong standing here.
posted by Eloquence at 5:33 AM on September 25, 2001

A "long time" since foreign policy got you elected? I seem to remember the 80's under Reagan, and to a lesser extent under Bush Senior.
Not that using foreign policy as an issue is a good thing. The democrats have historically had trouble with that as a campaign issue. Notice that the first real democratic victory (which was clinton; carter was a fluke) in fifty years came when foreign policy was no longer an issue.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:15 PM on September 25, 2001

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