Archives for January 2008

Der Gemeindeschlüssel

The Gemeindeschlüssel is an 8-digit number that identifies the local authority in Germany. When you first register your address, the form requires you to give this number, although it is often pre-printed.

If not, ask at the town hall where you are registering. Most people will not know their Gemeindeschlüssel and you are highly unlikely to need it at any other time!

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Local elections in Hessen: all options are open!

My forecast yesterday wasn’t far off – the main parties ended up very close. The preliminary result shows the CDU with 36,8% and the SPD with 36,7%.

And that reflects much of what I said. The CDU seemed to me to be content to rely on their reputation based on their time in office – and they lost 12% of the vote. The SPD were campaigning as much as possible, and gained almost 8%. The FPD seemed to me to be indifferent, and stayed almost where they had been, gaining only 1.5%.

The biggest surprise was the left-wing party “Die Linke”, who managed to get the 5% necessary to enter the local parliament, which has made the whole situation more interesting, and more confusing.

Assuming that the results do not change, then the CDU and SPD have 42 seats each, the FDP have 11, the Green Party 9 and Die Linke have 6. 56 seats are needed for a majority.

Since none of the parties has that, they have to start looking to the other parties to form a coalition government. In the run-up to the election, there had been signals that the CDU would work with the FDP (so-called “black & yellow”) and the SPD would work with the Green party (so-called “red & green”).

However, neither of these combinations is now sufficient to get those 56 seats needed. So they now need to start considering a three-party solution. The most obvious being:

– the “Jamaica” coalition – CDU/FDP/Green, so-called because the party colours make up the colours of the Jamaican flag

– the “Traffic light” coalition – SPD/FDP/Green, so-called because the party colours make up the colours of a traffic light

– the “red, red, green” coalition – SPD/Green/Linke

The only trouble is, that not only did the party leaders discuss in advance who they would work with, but also who they would not work together with. And that makes some of these constellations impossible.

– the SPD have ruled out a coalition with the “Linke”
– the “Linke Partei” themselves have set conditions for a coalition with the SPD that I think are unlikely to be met, as they concern policies at national level and have nothing to do with Hessen!

– the FDP have ruled out a coalition with the SPD
– the SPD would like to have talks with the FDP, but the FDP have been quoted as saying that their policies are “85% different” to those of the SPD

– I haven’t heard much from the CDU about working with the Green party, apart from the fact that they preferred the FDP as their partner. But that was before the result was known.

– The Green party have let it be known that they would prefer the traffic light solution.

– Both SPD and CDU have ruled out working with each other in a “big coalition”, like there is at national level, and I have a feeling they would try to find some agreement within a three-party solution before resorting to that.

So in the end, we poor people in Hessen haven’t got a clue who is going to be running the state in future! You could say that we asked for it to be that way. But then again, I wasn’t allowed to vote!

Frankfurt by train

Today the Monday Podcast combines two ideas. When I was younger, I used to enjoy going out for a day and just riding on trains in cities like London or Rotterdam. Now it was time to try this with my daughter in Frankfurt.

Secondly, I often read questions in forums about visiting Frankfurt for only a few hours, eg. between flights, and I wanted to see how much of Frankfurt it was possible to see using the trams and U-Bahn lines.

Listen to the podcast to hear where we went and what we saw:

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