Friday, 20 July, 2018

How to Watch the German Election Results

How to Watch the German Election Results How to Watch the German Election Results
Christy Curtis | 23 September, 2017, 00:47

The experienced German politician frequently smiles, her eyes sweeping on to her supporters and on the few carefully selected refugees who are placed in the front row seats. Nearly unnoticed, security staff quietly hustle a couple of scruffily dressed men out of the hall. No one here is taking any chances.

Decker is among the many German entrepreneurs that are generally pleased with Merkel's approach to governance: Over the last decade, the chancellor has consistently pushed for broader European integration, and helped to strengthen global economic relations. And one is the Left Party, which is the successor of sorts to the East German Communists. Her carefully stage-managed campaign is created to reflect her experience; 12 years in the job.

That Merkel will win the elections is perhaps a foregone conclusion. Many Germans are deeply uncomfortable with the right wing German party's anti-immigrant and anti-Islam stance. Such a coalition would likely have a large majority, provide continuity and broadly agree on Europe, Turkey, foreign policy, migration and security issues.

Support for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and her Bavarian CSU allies slid to 36 per cent compared with 40 per cent in early August, according to a weekly Forsa poll published on Tuesday.

In the old marketplace of Schwerin, shoppers have mixed views. She seems easily influenced. Therefore, I believe that a vote for the AfD can not be justified.

The refugee issue has "created a dent in her armor", said Henning Meyer, an expert in German politics at the London School of Economics. Many Germans regard her as soft, while many admire her refugee policies. The country's super-rich and the entrepreneur class, who have done very well out of Merkel's previous three terms, will fare better if the FDP is in government; the SPD and Greens are likely to oppose any handouts for them. On Thursday - four days before the crucial vote - some of the top German national papers did not even mention it in their lead stories. Someone has scrawled "hate Nazis" on the building. Since then though, the party has grown increasingly nationalist - so much so that AfD's first leader, Bernd Lucke, left the party in 2015 saying that it had become too xenophobic.

As we walk along the lakeside here, among gulls and swans, Rolf Kronhagel explains why he shifted his allegiance to AfD. Friday's polls put Ms Merkel 24 per cent ahead of Mr Schulz in terms of personal popularity.

It was AfD's opposition to gay marriage that first won him over, he says. It's particularly focused on user-generated content coming out of Facebook and Twitter, where fake news and information are most likely to emerge and spread. "A lot of Germans have a sense that our government is like an anchor for the world".

"In a way", he says, "AfD is already sitting at the table of government". It is inherent to Germany's political system, which essentially forces parties to think about negotiating possible coalitions with others, even before campaigning has even started.

"You can see the concrete results of that in Germany's new asylum laws".

Voters have consistently backed Ms Merkel in opinion polls.

In theory, there should be no shortage of issues ahead of the German election, such as slow progress in the country's turn toward renewables, demographic change, and the huge challenge of assimilating over 1 million asylum seekers or refugees who arrived over the past years. Another shows two bikini clad white women along with the catchphrase "Burkas?"

Merkel is pledging to get from Germany's current 5.7 percent unemployment rate - down from 11 percent when she took office in 2005 - to "full employment" by 2025. This should not be underestimated by mainstream political forces.

The process is especially complex this time as the number of parliamentary groups could rise to six from four. What is the political norm in many other European countries was unthinkable here.

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