Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Berlin Tango

In an amusing way.....the path to the fall state election in Berlin started yesterday.  Thus the fight is on.....with the 'defenders' of Merkel against the 'evil' expanding AfD empire (cynically spoken of course).

RBB (state-run Berlin TV network) carried a commentary by Olaf Sundermeyer explaining why 'crusaders' must rise to the occasion to defend the Merkel policy.

As Sundermeyer points out....this growth for AfD comes from three basic ingredients: (1) they were ignored by general political establishment and news media, (2) they were marginalized whenever discussions were held, and (3) a healthy dose of demonizing was tossed on the anti-immigration crowd when all else failed.

Sundermeyer does hit on the key to the AfD success....they talk on the essential topics of failed integration, crime, and the crisis created.

The word "misanthropic" gets brought up.  I had to go back and review the word because it's not a common term.  So, misanthropic generally means an unwilling nature to mix with other folks. It could also mean difficulty in communicating, being somewhat unfriendly, and antisocial.

When xenophobic and misanthropic get used.....it works up to the point where the smiling intellectural can stand and point at others.  Then some wise guy from the other side stands and asks why you couldn't use the same words on the intellectual crowd itself (the finger-pointers).

Berlin has developed some topics where the public will be negative about the accomplishments (or lack) from various political factions.

Crime gets brought up on a daily basis in Berlin.  It's small-time stuff like pick-pocketing....breaking into apartments....regular street crime.  Yes, there's occasional assaults which the local newspapers will discuss as an escalation over what people used to see....at least before the wall went down. Blame?  It gets shifted around....young punks, East Europeans, drug trade with North Africans, etc.

An anarchy theme now exists in a neighborhood of Berlin.  Locals will be split on this.  Some will say it's just a bunch of young people....doing some stupid things....likely a combination of frustration over politics and some idealistic fantasy.  Some will say it's an out-of-control situation with a tendency to only get worse.

Berlin is this magnet now for tourism.  Twenty-eight million people came and stayed at least one night in Berlin in 2014.  In the months of June, July and August....there are tourists everywhere.  Hotel growth is noted every single year.  For the locals, it's a plus and minus.  There's probably a hundred thousand folks now tied to the tourists in the city and happily employed.  It generates tons of revenue for the business side, and tax-revenue for the city itself.  On the negative side.....it means heavy traffic in the summer and an odd worry about some mishap occurring which would trigger tourists to cancel.  This is a city that you don't want a Koln-riot type situation to develop and suggest no-go areas exist in the heart of Berlin.

To confront the AfD and this fall election period.....you have to have some positive message that the public generally believes in.  They need to feel that crime isn't a big deal....that integration is actively happening with the massive bulk of incoming immigrants, and that there is no crisis.

The problem with the mix of perfect conditions to halt the AfD expansion into Berlin politics is that no matter where you look around Berlin....crime exists, crisis-like issues are a public sight, and public perception of integration is that it's like the weather in Germany....it changes every day.

The real approaching storm in Berlin?  Here's the deal....at best...the AfD will get around 10-to-20 percent of the local vote in the fall.  This subtraction of numbers from the normal voting pattern (CDU, SPD, Greens and Linke Party)....means that they all drift downward, and these really odd coalitions end up having to be formed....with a fundamentally weakened state government the final result because no one can work with the AfD.  Go imagine some kind of loss where the CDU's only reasonable option is to partner with the Linke Party.

So, that's the poker game being played out for the next couple of months within the state of Berlin itself.

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