Saturday, September 5, 2015

Americanization of German Politics?

It was an odd story....covered by Spiegel (a German news magazine).

What they say is that Jim Messina, the political planner for President Obama's elections and David Cameron's UK election in recent months....has signed a contract with the SPD in Berlin, and will be helping in the 2017 election period.

An American in the political process of Germany?  One might have some doubts over how effective this will be.

First, I will admit that Jim Messina hasn't lost any election that he's been involved he has statistical average on his side.

Second, the SPD is in serious trouble.  Candidate-wise, they are probably at the weakest point of the past forty-odd years.  Chancellor Merkel and the CDU have occupied a dozen similar stances on topics and there's really not that much difference between the CDU and the SPD (some might remember the dramatic differences of the 1980s).....but those old days have passed.

Third, the Americanization of an election process would require journalists bending over and helping whenever possible.  I think Germans would ask stupid questions when they see some slant going on and because public TV has a board of governors who might step in and demand some explanations....some journalists might be fearful of turning themselves into political-thugs.

Fourth, there's only one single topic at the top level of the 2017 election in Germany, immigration/refugees/asylum.  Because all of the top six parties have signed onto being pro-immigration....there's a slight problem for Messina to overcome.  Some polls indicate that roughly a quarter of the population is anti-immigrant/refugee (ZDF's Barometer folks did the one poll three weeks ago to say it's near twenty-percent).  If any political party were to identify a anti-refugee'd quickly draw those voters and be a problem nationally for the 2017 election (something that has yet to appear).  That would be a big chunk of voters....but if you flipped your stance, you'd probably lose a fair chunk of your voters.

So, I've come to this analysis of the Messina episode.  The SPD has reached a point of desperation and are reaching for just about anything to get another ten-percent on top of their current situation.  They desperately want to put Merkel out.   And they are even willing to Americanize a German election make that happen.  For some reason, I don't think this will end in a happy fashion and people will talk about the negativity of the 2017 election here in Germany for years and years.  The SPD might do enough harm to their brand-name....the Linke Party picks up SPD voters and becomes the number two party in German politics.  An odd ending.....if that's the result.

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