This is my general list of unique rules of German politics and how things typically work.
1. Debate, debate, debate. Even in a non-election period, there's around ten hours each week on state-run TV (ARD, ZDF, and the dozen oddball minor networks) which offer up some journalists, intellectuals, and political figures. The typical German might admit that he catches an hour or two per month. If they are really enthusiastic about some subject or topic....they might be catching fifteen hours per month. The debates can be rigged where there's only one person to represent one side of a topic and four others to represent the other side. That's part of the moderation control and transparency problem.
2 Scandals rarely occur. These days, divorce won't be handled as a scandal item for any German politician. Even if you get caught with a fair amount of meth on you or some perverted sexual stuff....it'll get dragged under the rug by the press, unless you are a CDU political figure with a rigged up thesis for your master's degree from twenty-five years ago.
3. The party rules. The message comes from the party and it's agreed upon by each layer of politician. If you stepped 180-degrees away from the party message.....they'd likely ask you to leave the party.
4 Because of the fifty-percent rule to get into the Bundestag or any of the sixteen state assemblies.....plus at least five political parties operating at the big-time level....it means that you really can't go and claim some very negative message against one particular party. You might have to come up in a year and negotiate a coalition government. This issue forces everyone to control their temper, their rhetoric, and their messages.
5. Because of financial rules and past scandals.....it's hard for any political party to get money under the table for 'favors'. It might be accomplished at the local level where a mayor or city council member triggers property changes or eases rules for certain parties.....but that's usually as far as this will go.
6. A major political player will step through the local scene, the state scene, and advance to the national level. It is impossible for some guy to appear out of nowhere and suddenly be considered a national party player with no prior experience. Some will try to say this was advanced after Hitler and the 1932 election.....but the truth of the matter is that they were already going this way prior to 1920.
7. If you have marginal debate skills.....you don't advance past the local level. It's pretty simple....you need to stand up in a forum, talk over a topic, and deliver some position. Without that ability, you are doomed for advancement.
8. City, state, and federal-level voting all occurs on a different schedule. Cities and states run a five-year program. The national level voting pattern is every four years, unless a crisis occurs and provokes a call for another election.
9. Germans aren't hyped up on politics like Americans. Until this immigration crisis came along, Germans weren't hyped twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year on politics. Immigration is a singular issue which has churned up attention on all different levels.....local, state, and national. Every single German has some opinion about it. But beyond that, there just isn't any other topic which demands that much attention.
10. A national poll from late 2015 indicates that almost sixty-percent of all Germans have little to no trust in the state-run news media (Channel One and Two). As much as they were key in helping project a political message prior to 2015.....they have burned various bridges to reach the stage of today, and the majority of Germans have a problem in watching their news and their message. To help in a political crisis? A major tool has been lost.....across all fronts.