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37 responses to “Merkel rules OK”

  1. Jess

    Come on Brian – MMP is great, not complicated! We’ve had it in NZ for quite a while and most people are pretty happy with it (at least, it was kept in the last referendum on electoral reform). And you end up with some of the most representative governments in the world.

    On your comment on the CDU’s vote vs the number of seats they win: I can’t work out whether your graphic shows only the electoral votes, or the party votes, or both. Because vote splitting between parties is pretty common under MMP you can have some interesting results when the party vote and the electoral votes are different. Being able to split your vote is great though – you can vote for an effective local member, even if you don’t agree with their party’s policies.

  2. Mark Bahnisch

    Good post, Brian.

    I found it interesting that Die Linke did comparatively well. Did you see any commentary on that?

  3. Paul Norton

    As the Wiki article linked to by Brian @4 explains, Die Linke is the result of a merger between of a left split-off from the SPD and the successor party to the Socialist Unity (Communist) Party of the former East Germany. The historical associations with the old DDR regime are the reason why the other major parties won’t touch Die Linke. Given that the party attracts enough of the left vote to make it impossible for the SPD and Greens combined to achieve a popular or parliamentary majority, this is problematic for the German left.

  4. Judith Downey

    This election is a personal triumph for Merkel but also for her party the CDU. I think we shouldn’t underestimate the impact she has had on her party. Although there are similarities between Merkel and Konrad Adenauer, the party she leads would be unrecognisable to him.

  5. Mark Bahnisch

    Wasn’t there an SPD finance minister who defected to the Left?

  6. Alan

    The MMP system used in Germany is not specially complicated. Repeating the system is complicated meme serves only to shut down any discussion of PR. Overseas reporting of our elections invariably says that preferential voting is complicated too.

    The Bundesrat does have party votes because the delegates are appointed, instructed and removed by the state cabinets. The opposition in each state is completely excluded from the Bundesrat delegation.

    The CDU/CSU result is not particularly great. All that’s happened is that the MMP threshold has prevented a large number of people from having their votes count in the election. The next time someone says we should follow Germany or New Zealand into an MMP paradise they really need to think about the threshold. There are lots better ways to do proportional representation.

  7. Paul Norton

    That’s right, Mark: Oskar LaFontaine
    .

  8. Sam

    Although there are similarities between Merkel and Konrad Adenauer, the party she leads would be unrecognisable to him.

    Adenauer left office 50 years ago, and died 46 years ago. I think it is reasonable to expect that parties will change over that period of time. The world certainly has.

    Die Linke did comparatively well.

    How so? Their vote went down 3.3%, which compares poorly to the other parties of the Left (SPD up 2.7%, Greens down 2.3%).

  9. Mark Bahnisch

    They overtook The Greens in seats Sam.

  10. Sam

    Wouldn’t they already have had more seats than the Greens, since they got a lot more votes last time, and seats are proportional to votes in that electoral system?

  11. Paul Norton

    That’s right Sam. In the previous Reichstag Die Linke had 76 seats and the Greens had 68.

  12. Paul Norton

    One interesting aspect of the election is that both of the traditional major parties have increased their vote, and all three of the minor parties represented in the previous Reichstag have lost votes, with the FDP falling below the threshold for representation. I will be interested in possible explanations for this from observers of the German scene.

  13. Katz

    It’s the opposite effect at to the end of the Weimar Republic, which, if I recall correctly also occurred in the context of financial crisis.

    One outstanding difference is that in 1933 Germans were major debtors about to default. Whereas in 2013, Germans are major creditors complaining loudly about Greek defaulters.

  14. Sam

    The Reichstag, Paul?

    Surely you jest.

  15. David Irving (no relation)

    I’m pretty sure that’s still the name of the German parliament, Sam.

  16. Paul Norton

    Bundestag. My possibly Freudian slip stands corrected.

  17. Paul Norton

    Brian @21, that proposal for one vegetarian day a week at workplace cafeterias is the sort of thing that one might expect a fledgling Green Party adopt at a party conference when it was still on the margins. What is astonishing is that a leader of a party as well established as Die Grunen now is would propose something like that in an interview with a notably pro-conservative publication like Bild. Not even the severest critics of Christine Milne have ever suggested that she might one day propose that Australians not be served pies at the footy, and in an interview with the Herald-Sun or the Daily Terror to boot.

  18. Sam

    The problem wasn’t the vegetarian suggestion as such, it was that it had to be a three course meal of sauerkraut.

  19. Paul Norton

    My point @24 being not that there is anything wrong with the Germans being encouraged to diversify their diets, but that Renate Künast showed very poor political judgment and lack of professionalism in raising the issue in a way that fed into more than one highly unflattering (and, presumably, long dormant) caricature of her party.

  20. Sam

    According to her Wikipedia entry,

    “In 2010, she along with Cécile Duflot, Monica Frassoni, and Marina Silva were named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers, for taking Green mainstream.”

    not that there is anything wrong with the Germans being encouraged to diversify their diets

    Really? Unless there is a public health issue involved, is it really the role of government to tell, or even suggest to, people what they should eat?

  21. Port

    Brian: in the late 70s in the UK, Harriet Harman was also a member of a party that advocated in its’ manifesto legalising sex with minors. Seems to have been popular with the extremes of politics in that period.

  22. Paul Norton

    Sam @28:

    not that there is anything wrong with the Germans being encouraged to diversify their diets

    Really? Unless there is a public health issue involved, is it really the role of government to tell, or even suggest to, people what they should eat?

    Basically agree, and I should have been clearer on this point in my previous post.

  23. jungney

    Brian, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, aka Danny La Rue from Paris, ’68, appears to have been a fulcrum around which this paedophile libertarianism developed.

  24. Helen

    Basically agree, too, but it’s a popular fairytale that Greens are the party of wacky policies. Look at the childish things spewing out of the LNP (Operation Border Security!!1!) at the moment, to say nothing of the right wing minor parties.

  25. Agrippa

    The reasons for Die Linke’s exclusion are historical (and partly personal) rather than ideological. They’re still seen as the party of the Stasi and the Berlin Wall. Its a taboo that’s gradually breaking down (there have been SPD-Linke coalition governments at a state level) due to generational change, but its probably still got another 10 years.

    I wouldn’t consider this election to be a terribly good advertisement for MMP; indeed, it demonstrates the problems with the system fairly well. The result would have been completely different had either (or both) the FDP or AfD recieved slightly a slightly higher vote (0.2% and 0.3% respectively).

  26. Sam

    So what you’re saying, Helen, is that the Greens are a party of wacky policies, not the party of wacky policies.

  27. Mark Bahnisch

    @12 and @13 – sorry, Sam and Paul, I had it wrong.

    I think the point I read somewhere was that they are now the third biggest party in seat terms (with the FDP’s elimination).

  28. David Irving (no relation)

    If only our own conservatives were more like Chancellor Merkel, the claims that the adults were back in charge would be less risible.