Sour Krauts

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Votopsies are coming after dissatisfied German voters turned out Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats in the western states of Hesse and Lower Saxony Sunday. CNN cites anger at Schroeder's stance on Iraq for the Social Democrats' lousy 29.1 percent showing in Hesse and 33.4 in Lower Saxony—to the conservative Christian Democrats' 43.8 percent and 43.3 percent. Deutsche Welle chalks up the loss—the Social Democrats' worst showing since World War II—to disgruntlement over the economy. Ha'aretz makes it a diagnostic ha'at-trick, describing the loss as a sign that Germany is shifting to the right and away from Schroeder's widely unpopular party.

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  1. In the words of some redneck, “It’s the economy, stupid!” The only reason Schroeder is still in office is his anti-war stance in the last election.

  2. Not exactly.

    Germany is neatly split ideologically, and this was likely the marginal difference that made a difference in the election. As a parliamentary democracy, little shifts that would go unnoticed in the two-party States are a big deal in Germany. (Witness the destabilizing effect of the Green & Libertarian parties in state-wide elections).

    Schroeder erased the small marginal edge he had over the CDU / CSU by implementing a huge tax hike just a week after the elections. Taxes in Germany are already so high that even a lot of leftists complain. Schroeder thereby contravened a “read my lips” promise he was making every day, right up to the elections. His excuse? “Things changed.” Remember what happened to the last U.S. president who did that?

    The German economy is a factor in German politics — but it’s a factor that has consistently cut against the ruling party since the end of the Cold War. Reunification will pose a tough problem for the foreseeable future, and everybody knows it. It is probably a political constant more than a determinative factor.

    The rabid anti-Americanism (and Francophilia) probably doesn’t help Schroeder, either — believe it or not, a lot of Germans appreciate America.

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