German anti-refugee vote leaves Merkel in a political mess: Don Murray - CBC.caThursday, December 22, 2016
Winning back that trust may not be easy. Consider the experience of the people of Doberlug-Kirchhain, a town of 8,700 in eastern Germany.
Just down the road was an abandoned military base. Last year, as the refugees poured into the country, someone in the national government remembered the abandoned base. They could house hundreds of refugees there.
German Family Minister Manuela Schwesig helps children climb through a window at a refugee shelter in Berlin on June 21. Germany has absorbed the mass influx of refugees in the last year relatively smoothly, although the sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and the money spent to accommodate them has left Germans unsettled and frequently furious. (Reuters)
And so they did, first transforming the barracks into living quarters for families, with playgrounds and playing fields. They also repaired the road into town with new traffic lights and laid on a shuttle bus for refugees so they could go to buy groceries.
Very generous, but badly received by the local population which had just lost their bus service because of state cutbacks. Different budget envelopes, as the accountants say.
Things weren't improved when the first question many refugees asked was, "Where's the train station?" They wanted to live in cities like Berlin or Frankfurt.
'Send the bill to Merkel'
The mood soured even more when some refugees, having stocked up on groceries in the local supermarket, told the cashier, "Send the bill to Merkel." And then walked out.
The police, anxious to avoid trouble, told the supermarket to swallow the loss if it was less than $75.
A year later the family quarters are almost all unused, the playgrounds empty. The more than 700 refugees who first arrived have dwindled to 125, almost all young men without families. And they want to leave, too.
Not surprisingly, the town is very receptive to the anti-migrant message of AfD. The mood, one person said, is: Merkel deserved the kicking she got in the state vote.
Emergency shelters stand empty
At a national level, it should be said, the mass influx has been absorbed relatively smoothly. Almost all the new arrivals have found regular housing. Hundreds of emergency shelters now stand empty.
Tens of thousands of refugees are in German-language courses. The problem is to find enough teachers. And because of language difficulties, unemployment among officially recognized refugees is still very high. But they receive generous social benefits.
And despite fears, particularly in the wake of the Cologne New Year's Eve sexual attacks on women, the overall crime rate has not jumped. In fact, the main spike is caused by attacks on refugees themselves.
Syrian refugees learn to reconstruct houses at a military education centre in Ingolstadt, Germany on Sept. 1. Germany is training refugees in the hope that they will eventually be able to help rebuild their homeland. (Associated Press)
But statistics do not calm fears. The sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and the money spent to accommodate them has left Germans unsettled and frequently furious.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is one of the country's smaller states by population (the Germans call them Laender and there are 16 of them) but the AfD won almost 21 per cent of the vote. A minor political earthquake.
For decades German elections have been dull affairs, earnest discussions of taxes, wages and health care. In this atmosphere Merkel was the perfect leader.
Political experts note and mainstream politicians fear that the Mecklenburg vote may herald a new era.
"The AfD cleverly used the refugee theme to 'emotionalize' the debate," said Christian Nestler, a political scientist at the University of Rostock.
The Austrian spectr...http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/germany-angela-merkel-refugees-1.3753669
Germany’s new Green divide - POLITICO.euSaturday, December 8, 2018
In one of Germanys most prosperous states, the Greens won 18 percent of the vote and became the second-largest party. It then achieved a similar feat in the neighboring state of Hesse, where it won 20 percent of the vote.
It remains to be seen whether the party will be able to cement its support and become the champion of Germanys cosmopolitan-liberal camp for years to come.
In early November, the Greens overtook the rapidly deflating SPD in nationwide opinion polls. One survey put the partys support at 24 percent, just three points below that of Chancellor Angela Merkels Christian Democratic Union. In a snap election, such a result would establish the Greens as Germanys largest left-wing force an enormous leap for the once marginal party. Buoyed by these recent successes, Greens from across Europe are gathering in Berlin this weekend to rev up their campaign for next May's European Parliament election.
In the minds of many German voters, the Greens have established themselves as the polar opposite of the AfD and those who adopt a similar rhetoric. I didnt have to think about it very long, it was crystal clear, says Doris Langer, 45, of her decision to vote Green in the Bavarian election. The communications specialist from Munich used to think of herself as largely apolitical and has voted for various center-left and center-right parties in the past.
But when Bavarias ruling Christian Social Union, the CDUs sister party, shifted rightward particularly on migration, a subject she cares about deeply Langer saw the Greens as her only option. They are the only ones who have a liberal refugee policy, she says. Merkels sentence from 2015, that ‘We can do it, the Greens are the only ones who take it seriously.
* * *
The Green surge could not have happened without the collapse of the SPD. In the birthplace of social democracy, the SPD held out longer than likeminded parties in other places in Europe. But its decline reaches back decades. In a way, social democracy became a victim of its own success.
The SPD is Germanys oldest existing party. Since taking on its current name in 1890, it has dipped below 20 percent in nationwide elections only once, in 1933; the party was banned by the new Nazi government shortly after.
After the war, the SPD became Germanys leading left-wing force, locked in a battle with the center-right Christian Democratic Union. After abandoning its Marxist tenets in 1959, drawing up plans to reform rather than abolish capitalism, the party gradually expanded beyond its working-class roots.
Reinvented, the party attracted centrist and middle-class voters, leading to a series of SPD victories in the 1970s. Back in opposition in the 1980s and 90s, the party led regional governments in several states. The SPD governed once more between 1998 and 2005, together with the Greens. (As junior coalition partners, the Greens were weaker and less influential than now; this seven-year period was their first and so far only time in power.)
But even in the SPDs 1970s heyday, its core base was already eroding. The structure of Germanys economy was changing, and with it the countrys workers.
img class="wp-image-981725 size-ev-full-width"...https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-green-party-haidhausen-munich-elections-social-democrats-spd-is-the-new-red/
Elvis Presley traffic lights appear in German town of Friedberg - DW (English)Saturday, December 8, 2018
Why is he there? Presley had a strong connection with Friedberg, a town of around 28,000 inhabitants, located 26 kilometers (16 miles) north of Frankfurt in the state of Hesse. Read more: Without Africans in North America, we would never have had Elvis Presley He was stationed there from October 1958 until March 1960 while serving as a soldier in the US Army. He lived in nearby Bad Nauheim. Elvis Presley in his US Army uniform while stationed in Friedberg It was there he met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu, whom he married after a seven-year relationship. Both towns are keen to make sure no one forgets "the King," who died in 1977, or their connections to him. While Friedberg first switched on the new traffic lights on Wednesday, Bad Nauheim holds the 'European Elvis Festival' and is planning a bronze statue of him. Flowers and pictures of Elvis left at his memorial in Bad Nauheim Bad Nauheim has long been a site of pilgrimage for Elvis' fans, and people lay candles, flowers and gifts for him. A little more action According to Götz, it took three months for the police to give the go-ahead and then a local graphic designer to send his ideas to the manufacturer. However, the work appears to have paid off, with the Wetterauer Zeitung reporting positive reviews. "Good idea," "witty," "something a little different," were some of the reactions. One person added, "I did wonder about it, but as always I crossed on green." Following a trend Transforming traffic lights has become something of a trend in Germany. The most famous are the Ampelmännchen in Berlin. Created in 1961 in what was then East Berlin, they now appear all over the united capital. The city of Augsburg now has the Kasperl puppet character in a pointed hat, Mainz has its own Mainzelmännchen, Bonn has Beethoven traffic lights...https://www.dw.com/en/elvis-presley-traffic-lights-appear-in-german-town-of-friedberg/a-46610723
Germany's Greens flourish while mainstream rivals flounderWednesday, October 17, 2018
Bavaria's state election on Sunday. It is polling strongly ahead in the election scheduled in neighboring Hesse two weeks later.
The Greens have clear policies on central issues, including an emphasis on fighting climate change and a largely liberal approach to migration.
The party also has a pragmatic approach and become a partner to parties from the center-right to the hard left in nine of Germany's 16 state governments.
Nationally, some recent polls have shown them level with the Social Democrats, traditionally Germany's main center-left party.
FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2018 file photo the new party leaders Robert Habeck, right, and Annalena Baerbock make their way on stage at the party convention of the Green party in Hannover, northern Germany. While other German mainstream parties flounder in polls and struggle to find an answer to a far-right challenge, the Greens have gone from strength to strength over the last year. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)
FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2018 file photo bucket wheels dig for coal near the Hambach Forest near Dueren, Germany. While other German mainstream parties flounder in polls and struggle to find an answer to a far-right challenge, the Greens have gone from strength to strength over the last year. They stand for climate protection and a largely liberal approach to migration. (AP Photo/Martin...https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-6268489/Germanys-Greens-flourish-mainstream-rivals-flounder.html
Flower-Power für BayernWednesday, October 17, 2018
Ouml;ko-Partei - und das längst nicht nur in Bayern. Ein Blick in die bundesweiten Umfragen: Auf Bundesebene bis zu 18 Prozent, nach nur 8,9 Prozent bei der Bundestagswahl im Herbst; in Hessen, wo Ende Oktober gewählt wird, 18 Prozent; in Nordrhein-Westfalen, wo sie letzten Sommer mit 6,4 Prozent aus der Regierung flogen, 17 Prozent. Längst werden die Grünen als mögliche neue Volkspartei gehandelt. Und immer wieder wird der Erfolg vor allem einem zugeschrieben - Shootingstar Robert Habeck, 49, Parteichef und Publikumsmagnet.
Der Schleswig-Holsteiner tourt seit Tagen durch Bayern und veröffentlicht im Netz nicht nur Bilder von sich beim Bügeln und beim Fitnesstraining, sondern vor allem von vielen Menschen, die zu seinen Veranstaltungen kommen, reden und zuhören wollen. Was in Bayern passiere sei eine „Frischluftzufuhr für die Demokratie, schreibt er, und meint damit, dass die Alleinherrschaft der CSU wackelt.
Für Habeck und Co-Parteichefin Annalena Baerbock ist diese Wahl wichtig, denn es ist die erste, seit die beiden im Januar auf Cem Özdemir und Simone Peter folgten. Seitdem arbeiten sie daran, den Grünen ein harmonisches, optimistisches, fröhliches Image zu verpassen. Scheinbar mit Erfolg, jedenfalls sehen die Umfragen danach aus. Dass mit Dieselkrise, Klimawandel und Braunkohle-Streit Ökothemen Hochkonjunktur haben, dürfte ihnen dabei zugute kommen.
„Die neue SPD, „die neue Volkspartei - solche Labels werden den Grünen nun schon eine Weile verpasst. Das Spitzenpersonal genießt das offensichtlich, der schlimme Kater nach dem Platzen der Jamaika-Verhandlungen im Bund mit Union und FDP ist überstanden. Aber wenn es in Bayern wirklich glänzend läuft, könnte das auch Probleme bringen - Koalitionsverhandlungen der beiden Lieblingsfeinde CSU und Grüne hätten es in sich. Ausgeschlossen sind sie trotzdem nicht, wenn es für CSU und Freie Wähler - eventuell n...https://www.sz-online.de/nachrichten/flower-power-fuer-bayern-4029228.html