Local Elections in Oberursel

The centre of OberurselWith local elections taking place in Oberursel tomorrow, amongst other things for the town parliament (Stadtparlament), I decided to take a trip into the town centre this morning and see what the political parties had to say for themselves.

In particular I wanted to know about plans to replace the town swimming pool, which has been closed for several years.  Recently there has been some discussion about the town selling off land to finance the building work.  This would not be so bad, if there was not already a sports field on it!

Then I wanted to know what plans the town has for the future of the schools here, in particular any plans for Ganztagsschulenschools that teach all day rather than just in the morning.

And finally I wanted to see what they had to say about the forthcoming Hessentag, in particular about the lack of information for businesses in the town and my recent attempts to get a permit to enter the closed-off part of the town in order to visit my customers during the event. [Read more…]

Hessen votes… again

I could use one of my favourite quotes today: “Same Procedure as Last Year?”

You see today, almost one year to the day, Hessen has to return to the polling stations and vote for a new state government (Landtag).

But it would not be right to say that nothing has changed in that year and we are repeating the excercise.

Let’s take a quick look at the parties:

CDU

The CDU has been fairly quiet this year, although I did see them out on a local supermarket car park last year canvassing for votes.  Compaired to last year, they have stopped talking about crimes allegedly committed by foreign youths, and have got on with the work of producing some new ideas, or just promoting those that worked well in the past.  In my opinion, this may well be enough to win.

SPD

The SPD had a turbulent time last year.  Although at they were in a position to form a minority coalition last year twice, both attempts were blocked by MPs from their own party.  This has definitely not helped their reputation.  It also did not help that they were going to accept help from a party (Die Linke) that they had previously said they would not work together with.

But their candidate last year, Andrea Ypsilanti, probably did not help matters by trying to stay on for a second chance, and even when she did make way for a new candidate, it was her personal choice who were selected to stand and she herself remains both head of the local party and of the parliamentary group.

I don’t believe that this is a good way to show that the party has learned from last year’s experience and is ready to make changes.  In fact, it looks like quite the opposite.

Another critisism of the SPD is that they are spending too much time on criticising the CDU, and not enough time telling voters what their own policies would be, if elected.

Oh, and appearing on the celebrity edition of “Who want’s to be a Millionaire?” probably didn’t help Fr.Ypsilanti’s image either…

FDP and Grüne

The FDP and the Green party have been very quiet this time round.  We have not had any election pamphlets in our letter box, and I have not seen anyone canvassing out on the streets (or supermarket car park).

In the media, they appear to be keeping a low profile, especially the Green party.  This is in comparison to last year, where the lines were clearly drawn about who would enter a coalition with whom.

Die Linke

You could say that this is the party that caused all the problem last year, by entering the Landestag and making it so difficult to form a coalition amongst the other parties.  But perhaps that wasn’t such a bad thing, because it meant that we were able to see the true face of some of those parties’ politics.

New Trends

Bread rolls courtesy of the CDU

Bread rolls courtesy of the CDU

Many of the parties have take a look at the US elections last year, and have been trying to emulate Barack Obama’s success on the internet.  They have are using Twitter, Wer-kennt-wen, YouTube, and even make.tv.  This might explain why we haven’t had any flyers in our letter box from most of them.

The morning I even found a bag of rolls with portions of liver sausage and jam from the CDU, with a note on them asking us to go and vote.  They had literally left a bag of rolls on everyone’s doorstep or hanging on their front door handle in the entire neighbourhood!

Now, I may be a big fan of Web 2.0, but a free bag of rolls on a Sunday morning is a lot more use to many people than a video podcast.  Not that it will make any difference to my decision today, as I am not eligible to vote in this election.

But at the end of the day, I am beginning to wonder who will have had a bigger influence on voters: the Koch or the Bäcker?

Politics in Hessen

Whilst most of the World is watching what’s going on in the U.S.A. today, one part of Germany is still trying to cope with the results of an election held months ago.  9 Months to be exact.

Since January, no single political party and not even a coalition has had a majority in the local parliament in Hessen.  This has meant that the previous Ministerpräsident has simply stayed in office whilst the parties try to find a way to form a government.

Last week the SPD thought that they had managed it.  Their candidate, Andrea Ypsilanti, was to be voted in to form a minority coalition government between the SPD and the Green party, with support from Die Linke.  This was controversial from the outset as during the election campaign Frau Ypsilanti had said that she would not work together with Die Linke party.

Then, yesterday, it all went wrong.  Previously one of the SPD MPs had said that she would not be voting in favour of Frau Ypsilanti, yesterday there were suddenly three more!  The majority was no longer possible – even with the cross-party support, and so the vote was not held.

Instead, most of the parties have told the press that they want to have new elections.  They may even call for them in the next sitting of parliament, meaning that the elections would be held in January.

And that’s something that many politicians want to avoid, as it would mean campaigning through the Christmas and New Year periods, when people are generally less interested in politics.

But that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.  So here are my predictions for the forthcoming election campaign:

– the election will take place on the earliest possible date, ie. 18th January

– the parties will be campaigning at the Christmas markets, no doubt giving out free Glühwein and Stollen, leading to a number of TV reports along the lines of “the economy is bad enough, but the vendors at the Christmas markets are doing even worse than expected due the amount of free Glühwein being given away”

– the SPD and the Green party will lose voters, and Die Linke will have an even stronger roll to place in the next parliament, although the CDU and FDP will have enough gains to form a coalition.

What do you think?

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