In German state-run TV circles....when you hear the "Elephant-Round" or Heavyweight-Round....it refers to a political chat forum where a full circle of the candidates in some election period are going to meet and butt heads. This is where debate really goes into turbo, and you move up or down a point or two.....could really reshape an election in the last days prior to an election.
Well....typically until 2011.....the rule was only major political parties that sat in the Bundestag (the national parliament) or the state assembly....were invited to the "Elephant-Round". That means you won five-percent or more in the past election.
For some reason....SWR (the state network for the southwest region) decided to dump that rule and allow anyone in the political chart game to come to the "Elephant-Round" if they were showing five-percent in the ranking (meaning a party could suddenly come out of nowhere and get seen).
Course, you might sit there and ask for Rhineland Pfalz region.....who benefited from this 2011 change to the "Elephant-Round" rules?
The Green Party.
Yeah. So the way this numbers game worked is that in the run up to the 2006 election.....the Green Party in the Rhineland Pfalz only got 4.6 percent. By dumping the standard rule....the Greens got major time to cover their policy. Between Stuttgart-21 talk from the next state over, and this talking against the other parties....the Greens picked up another ten-percent on the voting pattern.
Today? The AfD Party didn't participate in the 2011 election....so by the old rules....they wouldn't be invited. But by the new 2011 standard.....because they've got 10-percent right now (maybe even 12-percent).....they ought to be there for the state election debate.
The SPD and Greens say no.....they should use the 2006 standard and deny the platform to the AfD Party.
Neither the SPD or Greens want this election to be mostly about immigration. The sad truth is....probably over fifty percent of the Pfalz population disagree with that logic.....and want the election to say something about Merkel's policy and to question the whole logic of immigration today.
So the SWR network folks figured....Ok.....simply step back to the 2006 rules and it'd be ok. The CDU candidate said no....she'd refuse to participate. Chief reason? The FDP Party in the Pfalz only got 4.2 percent of the vote in 2011....so they are frozen out of the debate. For the CDU, a lot of this 2016 election dynamics is about the FDP recovery, and possibly partnering up for a coalition....so they want them to go over the 5-percent point.
The "Elephant-Round" now? It'd basically be the SPD and Greens only, and if the network goes forward with the show a week prior to the election....it'll look comical in some ways and re-enforce the idea of a slanted press.
The ability of the Greens to keep their 15.4 percent vote from 2011? It's hard to say. The 2011 numbers might have been a one-time fluke and they might lose big gain from five years ago.
So, this argument over the Heavyweight-Round is a political game for some to win and some to lose.