I typically DON'T watch the Arte Channel from my German TV options. There's a list of reasons....most alluring to my limited cultural and working-class background, and mostly because it's marginal stuff that less than one-percent of the population has any interest in watching. But last night, it was different.
At 8:15PM, they ran a 90 minute piece entitled: Goodbye Britain....which was a five-documentary piece covering the EU-referendum (BREXIT), with no commercials. Nifty how state-run TV can do it with no commercials (my monthly tax at work, I guess).
It was a very fair assessment, with forty different people interviewed around the UK....some for leaving the EU, and some for staying. History was tossed in and they covered the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Some people are absolutely fearful of what a leave-vote will do to the country. Some are absolutely angry over immigrants and the continued trends seen with the EU leadership.
What I've noticed over the past week, while reading an assortment of British newspapers.....is that most of the Brit papers are for leaving. The BBC position? To stay in the EU.
As the documentary continued on....it's readily apparent that both sides have told some four-star whopper lies and the public is openly frustrated with the EU's performance.
If the EU were some beer or potato chip....public relations-wise....they'd be deemed a failure. Their response would probably be.....well....you got no choice.....just accept our performance (not even to suggest improving or letting you leave the pub).
For a German, the typical feeling is that it's all hype by the Brits and they should leave.....punishing them as much as possible.
Deep in my gut.....I have this feeling that AfD (the anti-immigration party) is just waiting for the smoke to clear, and announce they are pushing for a anti-EU vote in Germany in 2017. They know that roughly a quarter of the German population is presently anti-EU, and there are a fair number of people who whine about the EU marginal performance.
How to explain the BREXIT to a German?
You start with this fairly tale. Once upon a time.....Prussia decided not to reshuffle the Germanic states around the 1800s era. Prussia stayed Prussia and the remaining 200-odd Germanic states over all of the 1800s eventually modified into 27 states, with Prussia as the 28th.
Without some united Germany, or the Kaiser in some reckless mode.....no WW I. We ease through the 1920s and 1930s.....with 28 Germanic states.
Somewhere around the 1950s....Prussia meets up with Holstein, Mecklenburg, and Saxony.....to discuss this great new idea called the Deutsche Union (the DU for short).
They think it's so swell....that more meetings are held, and the two big players....Nassau (Hessen) and Bavaria come into the picture. Both like the DU concept, but want the 28 members to retain a fair amount of their authority and character. They also want to emphasize that they want to retain control over their immigration situation.
By the 1960s, all 28 German states are signed up and a central currency starts up....the DU Mark. Banks are happy and consumers are happy.
The headquarters of the DU? Berlin of course. The central banking authority? In Frankfurt. The Supreme Court? In Bavaria.
By the 1990s.....there's some anger by the Nassau and Bavaria crowd because the Frankfurt DU leadership has done a number of things that went over the head of the 28 member states.
By 2005, there's anger that the Saarland went bankrupt and 27 states have come to together and loan them enough money to survive.
By 2010, immigration is considered out of control.
So by 2016, Bavaria has decided to revote on being a member of the DU. Angry folks in Berlin deem Bavaria as a bunch of idiots for bringing up the differences, but never offer any change to the DU way of business.
Sitting in the distance? The Nissau folks. They are hyped up negative too.
In this fantasy world......threats are made back and forth over how it'll destroy one economy or wreck the stability of the DU. False slogans are hyped.....fraudulent journalists talk on both sides....and the public really doesn't believe much.
The truth is that if you measured the negativity over the EU and it's accomplishments....then went and asked working-class Germans to note the negativity over the current government in Berlin....it probably wouldn't be that different. Both are wasting a tremendous amount of money and seem to be doing a lot of theater politics. An American could say the same over Washington DC.
In a week, it'll be over. But it's probably not going to be some clean 'stay-in' type result.