Germanys political landscape
So I’ve noticed foreigners are pretty confused by Germanys political landscape and rightfully so. First I’m gonna introduce the parties a bit, then some recent history, you’ll understand my reason for doing so then.
Let’s start with the SPD, the “Sozialdemokraten” or your average workers party, the easiest one probably. They’re by far the oldest party in the parliament, already being in power when Hitler rose up, so they have a rich history. Nowadays they still try to be for the workers, but somehow manage to fuck everything up. Yes, not only do they screw with their own voters, they also receive some bad reputation every now and then. Plus some of the shit the CDU/CSU does is for them. In school I’ve learned, they’re center left, but honestly at this point, I’m not that sure about that.
CDU or Christlich Demokratische Union (Christian Democratic Union) is the other big party in Germany. Together with CSU (Christian Social Union) who only operate in Bavaria, they form the second pillar of the parliament. In school I’ve learned they’re both more to the right, which is funny, cause nowadays they’re known to be ultra left to the outside. There’s also a famous quote for that by the head of the CSU back then, Josef Strauß. I’m gonna translate it, but it’s a very rough translation.
Rechts von der Union darf es keine demokratisch legitimierte Partei geben
A democratic legitimated party right of the Union may not exist (as in shouldn’t be allowed to)
They both stand for a “social market” which is basically a free market that secures the rights and living standards for its workers.
Then there’s the FDP “Freie Demokratische Partei” (Free Democratic Party) who mainly act in the interests for investors and employers. Until the Green Party managed to get into the parliament 1983, they were the only other party there. Meaning, they pretty much always gave the winning party the last 5-10% needed to form a government. They mainly want a free market and couldn’t get the 5% needed to get a seat in the parliament.
The Green Party started with the movements of the 70s about environment, feminism and world peace. They gained and lost voters with time and a rather strong party. But just like the SPD, they like to betray their voters. Voting for a war for example.
The Linke (the Lefts) is a fusion of two parties. The first one being the WASG, a West Germany party who split off from the SPD, because they’ve felt betrayed by them. So the faction who advocates workers rights and unions split off and founded the WASG. The other one is the PDS who originated from GDR’s SED. As such, they always have very bad reputation for being the direct successor of the GDR’s government. While still very strong in East Germany, it’s more of a minor party in the left. They too stand for social justice as they want minimum wage, fewer workhours and social standards for all workers.
Lastly we have the AfD now. A very right-wing party who originated from the PEGIDA protests. They condemned Merkel’s immigration politics and are very unsatisfied how the EU influences individual countries (like Germany itself). It’s the strongest in East Germany and liked by quite a few nazis, so it has an incredible bad reputation. Kinda comparable to Trump. They also share the anti-identy politics stands of him.
So now that we’ve get to know the usual parties who’re in the parliament, let’s get to the left-right spectrum. Personally I was quite confused too sometimes. Because when I heard the CDU/CSU among with the media is very left, I was strucked. I would also put the CDU/CSU together with the media, they basically lick up to them whenever possible. Friede Springer for example is friends with Merkel and leads many newspapers and tabloids. The “Bild-Zeitung” being the most famous one. It’s a tabloid who rivals Fox News in terms of quality, that’s probably all you need to know. They also own “Die Welt” (The World) a very economic newspaper and equally biased.
So why does the CDU/CSU seem far right to me and far left to foreigners. For one it’s because Germany is very left in general. For us Germans Democrats and Republicans are both right shifted. From our perspective, they’d be something like center-right and far-right respectively. But there’s another reason for that actually, a more personal one. My political believes focus on workers rights and equal oppurtunities. So I’m more of a centrist who wants more taxes to support the lower class with more rights, better living standards and high education. For that matter, most parties here fail completely, even the workers party SPD. But the most recent discussions were more about immigrants, who, for no reason and with no plan whatsoever, were suddenly let in by CDU/CSU. I think that’s mainly what gave them the last push to the left for most foreigners. But let me elaborate more on the history of German politics since the change.
After the reunion with East Germany our government introduced a “solidarity tax” to gain funds to help rebuild newly joined federal states. It was only supposed to last until around 2000, but hasn’t been lifted yet. It doesn’t need to be invest in the rebuild and as read now, it’s also unconstitutional for 10 years now. Between 2003 and 2005 the SPD under Schröder wrote the “Agenda 2010” the dumbest thing they could come up with. It was supposed to increase economic growth and employment in Germany. For that, they cut social benefits for unemployed among other things. That’s obviously not a good idea for a party who also tries to gain votes from the unemployed (or at least their supposed to I think) and seasoned workers. This had some insane consequences, best shown by the report on poverty from 2013. According to that, poverty reached a new height(German) with 15.2%. Not only that, the gap between the rich and the poor widened even further. And if that weren’t enough, our dear government of CDU/CSU and FDP tried to modify this report, so that it doesn’t sound that hard anymore. You think that was all? Oh no, by far not! With the definition of poverty from the EU, which is 60 percent of the requires weighted, everyone who receives social benefits now lives in poverty. So basically what that Agenda 2010 did, was to strike fear into the lower class with unstable jobs. Keeping their job was of utmost importance, because if you don’t have it, you’re straight up poor. It also doesn’t help, that most of the tv shows makes fun of exactly these people.
I also forgot to mention, that everyone who’s unemployed has to regularly show up at the job center to lengthen his file. They have many folders full of reports, references etc. They only pretend to help for the most partthough, which is even more demoralizing. To give you small glance at what I mean, everyone who is sick has to report it to the jobcenter. During that time, they’re written off as not-unemployed, vanish from all statistics at the same time, cause they “wouldn’t be available to the job market anyway”. It’s of course also filed in their record.
Back to some taxes. Since 1997 our wealth tax hasn’t been taken anymore, even though it’s constitutional. The financial transaction tax to reduce financial speculation has been talk for a long time now. This article from 2010 says, that Merkel is “completely behind” such a tax. Then three years later, the EU introduced it before us. Much to the dismay of our dear finance minister Schäuble. Also on 2010, our dear government under Merkel, with pressure from CSU and FDP lowered valued added tax for hotel owners from 19 percent to 7.
At last we have some cuttings for pension and child support. First the CDU/CSU raised the age adults should go into pension from 63 years to 67 years. Note that you can stop working earlier, but your pension is cut by 3.6% per year earlier. Just a few years ago, Schäuble cut child support for those who don’t earn that much, to realize his “black zero”. In other words, he further cut on the support families receive to have a good reputation for the next election.
To the social laws, same sex marriage isn’t allowed in Germany. The SPD tried to pass it with the election 2013 by gaining some votes, but they couldn’t push it through CDU/CSU. These two always block any votum for it with some explaination how marriage has a special status. Although every time they try (4 times so far) to block that votum for some reason, our federal constitutional court debunks that reason, saying that it’s totally conform with our constitution. So
So finally and lastly, in 2015 CDU/CSU with SPD introduced a minimum wage in Germany, yay! At first it was 8.50 Euro, later in 2017 they’ve raised it by 34 cents. Awesome isn’t it? No, of course not. For example, accoring to the Lefts minimum wage has to be at least 11.68 Euro to secure a living standard above poverty even in pension. Not only that our current minimum wage has some restrictions and exceptions. Youths under the age of 18 can be paid less. Same with immigrants and those who’ve been jobless for more than 12 months. Additionally minimum wage is barely checked by the government. So employers can just write off half an our to a whole hour less than the employee actually works. This is usually done in cleaning and transportation. So even though they know it takes at least 2 hours 30 minutes to clean that building or deliver these packages, they only plan and pay for 2 hours.
There hasn’t been any improvement in Health Care since decades, so not much to write about that. Even though we have multi-resistant bacteria and overworking doctors in our hospitals, so they’re a dangerzone in itself.
The rest is basically world wide known. Merkel and her party is widely against nuclear energy since 2011 when Fukushima happened. Again, she only changed her mind, after something big happened where she was basically forced to do so. Just to remind you, she’s a physician. Apparently she has a degree in physics, so something like that was ironic to say in the least. As I said above, I still don’t know what she thought when she let the immigrants in. Up until now we have 1.09 million immigrants with no good checks, plans, anything.
So there you have it. These are the examples why I think our government is very right. They mainly act in favour of those who have money on the costs of those who don’t. They also pushed TTIP to no ends, wanted to save as much data as possible to find terrorists and our intelligence agency is a big joke. The most famous case reveals, that lots of agents were nearby when our nazis killed lots of foreigners for example. Didn’t stop them though. Oh and they literally sink millions in an airport project that won’t end (BER). Oh god, it feels like I could make this rant forever if I dig a bit more. Then there’s some money laundering with foundation and Ursula von der Leyen. She’s gonna be my last point, yes.
Ursula von der Leyen is our new minister of defense. After announcing that she wants to remodel her staff, she regularly fires her officers. She also rejected reports of her staff and instead hired external advisors for 300 million Euros. One of them being McKinsey. Yes, our minister of defense doesn’t trust her own staff and spends literal millions on external sources, revealing secrets in the process. She also ridicules herself by trying to make the army “more appealing” for young families and women.
That is German politics!