Truly German – Episode 05 – 2nd October 2009

Truly German is a podcast that talks about the news in Germany. Sometimes this will by national news, maybe political, but we will also be covering some local topics.

We want to have some fun at the same time, so part of the podcast is our Länderquiz – in which our contestant has to guess in which Bundesland three different news stories took place in.

Will Maria win herself a T-Shirt this week?

The topics are:

  1. Election results
  2. Döner reward for voters
  3. Hessen to relax smoking laws

The quiz covers the following stories:

  1. Manga fans meet up
  2. Diplomats gather at Schloss Horst
  3. The 356th Onion Market

Listen to the episode and contact us if you’d like to have a go yourself!

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Hessen in Chaos

The political landscape in Hessen is in Chaos. After weeks of talking (or not talking, as the case may be), one of the parties finally made a move. The SPD decided to accept the support of the left-wing “Linke” party to get themselves into government.

However the support appears to have been limited to the vote on the position of Ministerpräsident(-in), after that there would have been a minority red-green coalition (SPD/Greens).

All went well until one MP, Dagmar Metzger from Darmstadt, decided that should could not accept this way forward and would not be voting for her own party.

Now Frau Ypsilanti now longer has the majority that she needs to be elected, so the Local Government remains in a state of limbo. Roland Koch remains as the Ministerpräsident until further notice and no party has a working majority.

This afternoon I even read that the SPD is being criticised for mobbing Frau Metzger into giving back her mandate.

Is it really mobbing to suggest that someone who got elected for a particular party is asked to hand their mandate back for not following the party line just a month after the election?

I’m undecided on this one. On the one hand I think the party could expect its MPs to follow its lead. In fact, they even asked at a meeting of MPs if they would be doing so and all agreed to. Frau Metzger did not even attend!

On the other hand, Frau Ypsilanti stated quite clearly both before and after the election that should would not be working together with the “Linke” party.

So who is going back on their principles? Who is right and who is wrong?

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!

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