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I'm equally worried about the election results, but the spin you are trying to give them is rather silly -- once again, I'm amazed about your selective view of "the German media". If Spiegel magazine is any indication of the importance the media attaches to internal political affairs, you must have missed this year's issues with main stories about Eastern Germany, Fear of Poverty, Schröder's record, Work in Germany, Eastern Germany, Reforms in Germany, Schröder in trouble etc. ....

OK Alexander,

Then go find me all of the articles over the past two years about the NPD and growing extremism in German politics and compare that to the number of articles about Bush and the upcoming US elections. You will find that the proportion is lopsided dramatically towards coverage of the US and Bush. That isn't spin, it is fact. What axe have you got to grind?

Anyone can google up a few articles about anything. That tells us absolutely nothing about the overall coverage day in and day out in the German press.

---Ray D.

There is a real danger that the dismissive attitude shown by the the MSM and the MS political parties towards extremist parties will further bolster their support.

Instead of snobbishly instructing people not to vote for extremist parties, MS parties should give people reasons to vote for them, i.e. by revamping their inadequate standard of governance.

But that would of course be much harder than patronisingly dismissing one's critics, especially those that can be painted as "wackos". The problem of such a political strategy is that it neglects that there are a lot of potential "wackos" out there. The worse the MS parties do their job, the more "wackos" there are.

@ Alexander,

And did you notice how recent all of your links are...most were published after this election debacle was already forseeable. In fact, the high poll numbers for the extremists in the east were the only reason a number of your links above were even published.

Did you read my article at all? I never suggested that the German media gave no attention to internal affairs. I was suggesting, that as an overall proportion of its coverage, the media paid far too little attention to German internal affairs because it has been paying far too much attention (because it is highly lucrative and provides a lot of Germans with emotional red meat) to the US election, US politics and George W. Bush.

Again, I challenge you to examine reporting in the German media over the past one to two years. For example in 2004: The Dark World of Torture, The Defensless Superpower, Bill Clinton, The Torturers of Baghdad, The Iraq Trap: Bushs Vietnam, Five to Twelve for George W. Bush: Will America be Democratic Again?.

In 2003: California: The Run-Down Paradise, Conspiracy : 11 September, World Power without Power, The Endless Blitzkrieg, Hillary Clinton: My Other America, The New World Order, America's Victory: Between War and Peace, The Battle Around Baghdad, Superpower in the Sand, Bombing Terror for Freedom, The Conceited World Power, Operation Rambo, In a Godly Mission: The Crusade of George W. Bush, Blood for Oil: What it's really about in Iraq.

I could go to 2002...but I think you get the point...and these are only SPIEGEL covers, the same ones you mentioned. I think my point is clear.

The fact that the PDS is playing a large role in organizing and utilising the protest against the federal welfare reforms has been reported up and down. There have been lots of reports about the NPD, especially during the time the German government and parliament tried to ban the party, but didn't succeed at the Constitutional Court. As soon as the NPD played a role in using the protests against the reforms to gain votes, there were dozens of articles about them and their demonstrations. But I hope that the German election analysts are right in telling us that this is not so much an election of extremist values, but of protests and fear. (BTW, these aren't a few articles I googled up -- these are cover stories in the most influential German political magazine. Yes, the upcoming U.S. election is watched closely in Germany, but so are topics like the reforms, the economy in general, energy prices or education.)

The gains made by the communist and neo-nazi parties in today's election are indeed troubling and the press's coverage may be loop-sided.

But let's face it, the outcome of the American Presidential election IS going to be more important for Germany than these two state elections (the composition of the Bundesrat most likely won't change).

Also, Schröder has many faults, but (implicitly) blaming him for the CDU's collapse in Saxony (from 57% to 42%) does feel slightly far-fetched. Surely the picture there must be a bit more complicated?

Speaking of fear, didn't you love how Schroeder won the 2002 election by playing on the German people's fear of war in Iraq by drumming up antagonism towards the United States. I don't think the SPD has been successful on another issue since then.

Again, I don't deny that the German media has covered the NPD and domestic affairs. You are missing my argument entirely. I am saying that they have over-covered Bush and the US election and under-covered national political trends. It is a question of proportions. The coverage of US affairs and the exploitation of Bush-hate is way out of proportion in the German media, to the detriment of covering the nation's own internal affairs.

---Ray D.

But let's face it, the outcome of the American Presidential election IS going to be more important for Germany than these two state elections (the composition of the Bundesrat most likely won't change).

@ Nick:

Not if this is part of a larger, growing trend of extremism in German politics. How would you feel if Nazis and Communists won over one-third of the popular vote in the USA in two state elections? (and Germany has fewer than 20 states...) Not significant? Think again...

The cover stories I linked to range from the beginning of 2004 to now. I think you have to differentiate between the PDS Socialists which already have high percentages in East Germany and the two right-wing parties: One of them already was in the parliament (DVU in Brandenburg), the more extreme NPD wasn't. They profited from the welfare reform protests, and this is a fairly new development.
Adressing your point: What is too much coverage? Terrorism, the Iraq war, the U.S. election are important issues. But I'm under the impression that because this blog's authors focus mainly (not exclusively) on German media issues related to the U.S. (and providing red meat for right-wing U.S. bloggers whenever Schröder drops in the polls), they underestimate the amount of coverage the Hartz IV reforms have received.

If it's a larger trend towards extremism I agree.

Personally, I think the socialists and conservatives got trounced because they supported unpopular labor market reforms. So I don't think it's a larger trend, but a once off issue.

@ Alexander:

Terrorism, the Iraq war, the U.S. election are important issues.

Absolutely valid point. So do you think the following covers represent objective, balanced ways of covering those issues (again, these are all just SPIEGEL covers, I could show you lots of other stuff from other sources):

Bombing Terror for Freedom, The Conceited World Power, Operation Rambo, In a Godly Mission: The Crusade of George W. Bush, Blood for Oil: What it's really about in Iraq, California: The Run-Down Paradise, World Power without Power, The Endless Blitzkrieg, The Torturers of Baghdad, The Iraq Trap: Bushs Vietnam, Five to Twelve for George W. Bush: Will America be Democratic Again?, The Dark World of Torture, The Bush Warriors

Yeah, sure, this is all just legitimate, objective, professional coverage of important issues. No profiteering or flailing of red meat here. I think the state of denial that you are in is the very reason we do this website.

"the outcome of the American Presidential election IS going to be more important for Germany than these two state elections"

I fail to see how the self-destruction of both German Volksparteien can be at all less important to Germans than the US presidential election.

In fact, I fail to see how the choice of Bush vs. Kerry affects the average German at all. The foreign policy of the US will remain virtually the same, no matter who wins. The problems of Germany have not been created in Washington, they have been created right here.

And as far as Schroeder goes, when was the last time the SPD won an election? And we don't have a right to report on that? And if we do we are all a bunch of evil right-wing bloggers? I think I see where you are coming from now...

I agree with Nick: According to the polls, 61 % of PDS voters in Saxony stated that the reforms are the most important issue to them. So did 76 % of NPD voters. In Brandenburg, 47 % for PDS voters and 52 % for DVU voters think the so-called Hartz IV reforms and the labor market are the decisive issue. (If the DVU voters were all ideological extremist instead of protest voters, you wouldn't expect 63 % of them to think that the Social Democrat Platzeck is a good prime minister of Brandenburg.)

And no, Ray, they're obviously not all objective, balanced covers. On the other hand, they're not just covers -- there are long stories in the magazine. And yes, much of the reporting supports the view that the Bush administration made a lot of mistakes before and during the Iraq war. You have all the right to report anything, but you're measuring with two or even more different standards regarding red meat.

@Scott: The demise of the Volksparteien is hardly a new issue. Social reforms have been unpopular in every European country, parties carrying them out always have to fear voters' retaliation. Obviously, I don't think the outcome of the U.S. election is the most important issue in Germany. Nick didn't say so either -- it was Ray who put the words "not significant" in his mouth. (And with that, I'm off -- have fun.)

@ Alexander

You have all the right to report anything, but you're measuring with two or even more different standards regarding red meat.

Not at all. In fact, we are giving the media a little of its own medicine, and guess what, they don't like it...sob...somebody get me my hanky!

So some dissatisfied voters are bolting both to the extreme right and left. Stupid and shameful, but not entirely surprising. I think the problem boils down to this: all mainstream parties have been too lazy or inept or gutless to build a coherent platform of political values, explain it and then fight for it. They all want to be everything to everyone, to safely swim in a shallow pool of consensus. They all are social-democrat until they run out of money. They believe this lack of convictions to be professional and "realist". Therefore, they never bothered to counter political rhetoric some of them would normally be opposed to, from "social justice & equality über alles" to rabid environmentalism to antiglobalism and anti-Americanism. As soon as Germany reached a place among the top economies of the world, the state and the social security system became a free-for-all. And people got used to it, especially some in the East who were made to believe that hard currency grows on trees and jobs are indeed created by politicians.

In the bubble that media and politics created for their comfortable coexistence, economic and social reform could be safely put off and it still has not happened – it´s not reform when you simply admit that you´re out of cash. In an established democracy like Germany, this cannot be shrugged off as normal. Reforms are never popular? But they didn´t stop Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan from being reelected twice. Wasn´t there some pretty far-reaching welfare reform under that notorious lefty, Bill Clinton? Why not here?

Instead, this leaves a whole section of the political spectrum to lie fallow. I have maintained for years that we are missing the political culture and even the vocabulary to counter those bad ideas. Does anybody know the "neoliberal radicals" that Oscar Lafontaine is talking about all the time? Can I vote for them? Hardly.

So last year we applauded the Attac bastards and their ilk when they hypocritically protested the war. Once invited, they stayed. Schröder liked it a lot less when they denounced his own policies, and our whole system, as unjust. It is pretty late to complain about an unhealthy mix of ideas after letting them ferment for decades.

I am sorry for my country. Germans don't learn, they will never appreciate a free will. A good state means a welfare state for them. They don't appreciate freedom. I am sorry.

Too bad Angela Merkel didn't turn out to be another Maggie - I had high hopes for the girl.

"Wasn´t there some pretty far-reaching welfare reform under that notorious lefty, Bill Clinton? Why not here?"

Yes, that's true. But from what I'm hearing is that the SPD reforms are illogical and counter-productive. Obviously any cuts in social services are going to make a number of big babies cry because they feel entitled to receive money from the government. But it seems like the SPD has upset more than just the welfare whores. I don't understand the so-called "protest vote" though, who benefits from extremist parties gaining power, even if it's comparatively small and localized? The only thing accomplished is they are more legitimized.

The logic at work here, especially as werner describes it over the long run, reminds me of the results of the last presidential election in France. The same causes lead to the same consequences...

When you've ceased to be a part of history, global politics becomes a spectator sport. This accounts for the German interest in U.S. developments. They'd like to see Kerry elected so the U.S. could join the rest of Old Europe wringing hands on the sidelines. Multilaterialism loves company.

Will some one please explain why the hell no one likes Guido Westerwelle or the FDP? Free market advocacy and smaller gov would seem to be in order these days? Much better anyway than these new rabblerousers

I have a question about the overall vote itself. Was turnout larger than usual or smaller? I would like to know because the available choices, NOT voting is also a choice. I would appreciate some insight to that if anyone has time.


Not sure what the fuss is, but why do we care if the Krauts vote for parties to extreme ends of the left and right? Schroeder ran on strictly anti-American agenda, fueled anti-Bush and anti-American hatred in Germany, and beat Stoiber who looked like he had a good chance of winning. If he had, he probably would have made the reforms that are surely needed in Das Reich, and maybe set the rest of the country on the road to looking a little like Bavaria. But no, the Germans made their bed, got themselves a tightly divided Bundestag under the Rot-Grune coalition, and nothing got done, and nothing will get done. They deserve whatever they get. Let them implode. Maybe something better will rise from the ashes. As long as Germany is socially/politically unstable and economically lagging, New Europe will move closer to the US (just as New Europe is closer to the US so long as Russia sits on their borders), and New Europe will benefit from US investments that move into their (more) stable economies/societies. We may have lost Old Europe, but we will gain New Europe.

Although it is an old chestnut, it seems clear that Europeans (besonders die Deutschen) still mistake the terms "left" and "right" in U.S. politics for the terms "left" and "right" in European politics. On the European scale, Clinton-Bush-Kerry line up directly on top of one another. They are politically identical. Any differences in their practical politics (relative to Europe's vast spectrum) is entirely one of personal nuance.

As the poster noted above, for the average European, a Kerry win will look no different than a Bush victory. Kerry won't be able to end the Iraq quagmire any faster than Bush will. That he speaks French won't make Kerry a better president. Bush speaks Spanish (maybe better than English?) for crying out loud. It is bigotry bordering on ____ism (pick whichever ism is most abhorrent to you) to imply that French is an intellectually or politically superior language to Spanish.

Europeans--and Americans--need to realize that if Bush wins, it's because he believes in something. Even in something many voters disagree with. Kerry, plainly, believes in nothing. This doesn't make Bush right, of course. But it may make him president...again.

Well, we care what's happening in Germany because probably most of us here have some sort of direct connection with Germany whether through relatives, marriage, military or being German themselves.

What's I don't understand about the election results is in both graphs the CDU dropped bigtime. Where did those voters go? I don't get it.

A question for the board, particularly the german readers: how might one interpret these results?

As a voice of protest against market reforms, explaining the communist party success?

A vote against widespread immigration and EU integration, explaining the fascist party success?

Both of these things? Neither? Some other issue driving the election?

What do you think these voters are most concerned about?

What concerns me is that what you might call "anti-Republican parties" are seen as legitamite protest votesin Germany and France.

By "anti-republican" I mean these parties oppose the constitutional settlements in those countries (as opposed to groups like "List Piter Fortuyn [sp?] or the UKIP which, while not "mainstream" are happy with the current cvonstitution of their countries).

In Frane, in the first round of 2002, you saw variou sright and left wing parties which were anti-Fifth Republic scoring 39% of the vote.

These are groups that have the possibility of doing a lot of mischief. The only good thing is that they are probably unable to work together.

bsc wrote
>>The only good thing is that they are probably unable to work together.
No, actually, that's the bad thing. It's bad because what they need is one strong leader to give them something that is coherent. If they could share power and be coherent, the potential for despotism would be diluted.

It looks like everyone is missing Ray's point. The point isn't about the extreme parties gaining votes. The story is about the lack of coverage in the German media about this rise while they flail away at Bush. Kind of like pointing out an injured rabbit on the roadside while you hurtle towards a semi

Couple of other points. Clinton didn't engineer Welfare Reform. He was smart enough to steal Wisconsin's program (which was designed by Tommy Thompson, the Governor of Wisconsin, now Bush's Secretary of HHS).

Secondly, I dislike assumptions in statements:
"Kerry won't be able to end the Iraq quagmire any faster than Bush will."

Not all of us agree that there is a "quagmire." I'm quite happy with the progress.

Perhaps this is a good time to bring up the old chesnut about US vs. European politices? i.e. "Europe is always warning that the US is about to slip into fascism, but when fascism comes, it always seems to miss the US and hit Europe."

What if any is the difference between the DVU anbd NPD?

Joe wrote
>>The story is about the lack of coverage in the German media about this rise while they flail away at Bush.
True. But this is a blog. And we talk about what we want to. It's called derailing a thread. ;-)
As for your welfare reform in the U.S. scenario; it's exactly right except for one thing. Clinton is a superb enough politician to recognize a winning horse and be able to ride it to a national title. No other Democrat, then or now, could have done that.

Susan wrote:
>>but when fascism comes, it always seems to miss the US and hit Europe."
It's not fascism necessarily. It's totalitarinism, e.g., the EU.

Speaking of the rise of neo-Nazism, whats the deal with the new German movie that portrays Hitler sympathetically? Der Untergang?

Gestern 20.00 Uhr in den ARD-Hauptnachrichten sah ich, wie die Politiker den Tisch verließen, als die Moderatorin den NPD-Vertreter "interviewte" bzw ihn in rüdem Ton anbrüllte. Ich war doch sehr erstaunt. Fordert man nicht stets Dialog mit den Schurken? Muß man das Wahlergebnis nicht als Ergebnis einer demokratischen Wahl akzeptieren und darauf angemessen reagieren? Haben unsere Politiker und erst recht die Journalisten nichts anderes zu bieten als Ignorieren und Beleidigen? Wo sind die sachlichen Argumente in der Auseinandersetzung mit den Extremen - rechts UND LINKS? Warum reagiert man so hysterisch, wenn es aus der rechten Ecke kommt?

Wo ist die Auseinandersetzung mit dem Extremismus, der schon seit Jahren in Deutschland vorherrscht. Dumme Parolen statt Politik, Hetze gegen andere statt Information und Meinungsvielfalt. So hat Schröder doch 2002 die Wahl gewonnen. Die Geister, die er rief, haben sich nun gegen ihn gewendet. Er hat diese wütende Haltung für sich ausgenutzt. Aber eine wütende hassende Bevölkerung ist nicht zugänglich für Argumente.

Vereint in der Ablehnung Amerikas war der Osten und Westen gemeinsam stark. Mit Antiamerikanismus kann man zwar Wahlen gewinnen, aber es hat Deutschland nicht gut getan.

Die Versäumnisse sehen wir jetzt. Aber rechts und links. Der Extremismus als solcher ist die Gefahr.

"Sprecher Beier (NPD) erklärt: "Sechzig Jahre nachdem alliierte Kampfbomber Dresden in Schutt und Asche gelegt haben, haben sich die Wähler heute für ein freies und souveränes Deutschland ausgesprochen." Eines wird an diesem Abend sehr schnell klar - die demokratischen Parteien werden sich künftig im sächsischen Landtag mit Geschichtsklitterungen besonderer Art auseinander zu setzen haben."
So steht es heute im Spiegel. Diesen Satz, die neue Sichtweise der Deutschen sich überwiegend als Opfer zu sehen, Deutschland emanzipiert, nicht länger der Lakai der USA, diesen Satz haben die RotGrünen doch schon 1000fach rausposaunt. Wenn ihn einer der NPD ausspricht, dann ist es Geschichtsklitterung? Erst dann? Er war vorher falsch, und ist es jetzt. Aber was man selbst vertreten hat, kann man jetzt nicht als falsch brandmarken, nur weil die NPD es aufgreift.

Mit Antiamerikanismus hat Schröder 2002 die Stimmen auch aus dem Osten gewonnen. Seitdem hetzen unsere Medien gegen USA und Israel. Dem Osten war es recht, das war doch schon vor dem Mauerfall gängige Position. Israel und USA waren Feindbilder. Diese Welle ist auf den Westen übergeschwappt, und allmählich erkennt man, daß man selbst Populismus betrieben hat und versucht umzukehren.

Wie sollen Menschen, die Jahrezehnte die USA und Israel als Feind eingetrichtert bekommen haben, von heute auf morgen diese Ablehnung abstellen? Das hat der Westen versäumt. Man hat sich mitreißen lassen, ohne die Folgen zu bedenken, für Deutschland, für die Welt. Man hat sich von Frankreichs Antiamerikanismus weitertreiben lassen, fühlte sich aufgehoben in der EU. Schröder und Chirac in unendlichen Umarmungen. Bush und Sharon, die Bösen. Und jetzt, Deutschland? Aufgewacht?

Aber es läuft schon wieder in die falsche Richtung. Von links und rechts droht der Extremismus und den von links erkennt man nicht.

Mit Worten wie links und rechts betreibt man Propaganda, wobei links mit gut assoziiert wird und rechts mit Nazigleich.

"Seitdem hetzen unsere Medien gegen USA und Israel"
Es wird schon auf beiden Seiten des Atlantiks gehetzt. Lesen Sie mal die Kommentare von Ralf Peters in der NY Post, Jonah Goldberg bezeichnet Franzosen nur als "Cheese-Eating-Surrender-Monkeys" und ein Typ wie Bill O'Reilly ruft in seiner landesweiten Sendung zum Boykott aller französischer Produkte auf. Man stelle sich nur mal vor Ulrich Wickert würde am Ende der Tagesthemen den Zuschauern einen Boykott aller amerikanischen Produkte ans Herz legen.

"The German media would also be well advised to pay greater attention to internal political affairs and the failings of Germany's leaders. Granted, It certainly wouldn't be as profitable as bashing George W. Bush and the United States, but it might save the nation from future election embarrassments."

Also die letzten Wochen dominieren eindeutig innenpolitische Themen die Medien. Hartz IV, die Steigerung von Energiepreisen und die anstehenden und zurückliegenden Wahlen waren die dominanten Themen. Und es wurde auch über die Gefahr einer wiedererstarkten Rechten diskutiert. Etwas selektiv ist man allerdings im Umgang mit Linksextremen auf der einen und Rechtsextremen auf der einen Seite.

"...future election embarrassments."
Naja, jedes Land hat so seine peinlichen Augenblicke bei Wahlen ;-)

Oops, the above post is mine

I have only found this blog now so I am not aware if this is meant to be in English or German.

anyway, the whole reproaching Germany of Anti-americanism / Anti-semitism is way over the top.

First, when East Germans protested against the GDR regime, part of their desire was to have a lifestyle similar to that of West Germany. As West Germany was a satellite of the US, at least regarding the way of life, people in the GDR had a very positive image of the USA, too. I mean I do remember the youth culture in the GDR very vividly and it was full of products and images of Western pop culture. (mostly imported cheaply from Poland)

What I am saying is that what you call Anti-Americanism is to a very large degree only criticism of the American foreign policy of the last 4 years.

Just one example. When Clinton came to Berlin, thousands of people went to cheer for him, when Bush came (and that was even before the war on Iraq), there were huge protests.

So, please do differentiate. My theory is the following. I think Germans feel somehow related to Americans and justly so. (obviously, West Germans more so than East Germans) that is why they cannot comprehend the torture, they cannot comprehend why a country that used to stand for freedom and democracy, attacks another one without having a proper reason to do so.

It is like a family member suddenly gone delinquent. It would upset you more than if a random person did so, wouldn´t it?


I suspect that one explanation for the election results is that the reforms ARE working. I can't give any credit to the SPD if they are: the SPD cynically blocked sensible reforms for years in the Bundesrat under Kohl's chancellorship. The SPD is only doing far too late what had to be done. My theory helps explain why BOTH SPD and CDU are suffering. The Ossies know intuitively that the CDU will do the same thing as the SPD.

There was a great article in this Sunday's FAZ about German "dreamers" (vis-a-vis America actually). The over 30% vote in Saxony and Brandenburg for totalitarian parties is to me a classic example of the lengths to which a German dreamer will go to avoid dealing with reality: surrendering one's freedom to the first leader (or party) that promises to make harsh reality go away and to restore the old, cherished order. Sentimentality and totalitarianism often go hand in hand.

Well, as the German posters here pointed out, such a small fraction (demographically) of wackos will not result in a major change of policy in this West-dominated country. (I believe that the extreme right also had periods of representation in West Germany in the Sixties.) The changes are a'comin. I've been waiting for them since 1988. There's no stopping them.

There was also a great interview with a female USA correspondent on the NRD last night about anti-americanism and the slanted US coverage in Germany. She admitted being criticized by her home office for trying to explain in her reports how Americans thought about the Iraq war and for not "valuing" her coverage more (i.e. slanting it with her own -- read the editors' --"Amerika-kritisch" opinions).

The anti-americanism has died down here lately, but it always lies just below the surface. I suspect, however, that with each new wave of anti-americanism, thinking Germans realize how superficial such views are.

Why do so few people like the FDP? The answer is simple: Nobody likes to be told an uncomfortable truth, and the FDP is the only party who keeps telling uncomfortable truths at least since Graf Lambsdorff has published his paper on economic reform in 1982. Yes, indeed, since 1982. For 22 years now, the FDP proposes to get rid of our huge welfare state and rely on free markets instead.

But of course, for most Germans it's much more comfy to believe the people who keep telling us that the status quo can be maintained perpetually. It's important to notice that even the neo-nazi parties in Brandenburg and Sachsen did not win votes with platforms that are anti-semitic or argue openly against foreigners. Rather, they ran on anti-globalisation, anti-capitalist and pro-welfare state platforms!

Ok, first of all @Ray: Yes,the german media did more covering of american-centered reporting in the last few months than ,singly taken, any about other topic. Its always easier to bash other peoples 'failures' than to reflect on ones own. Nonetheless, I think this changed in the last few months (the torture story you mentioned earlier wasnt america-centered but an discussion if an democratic country is allowed to use torture in urgent situations) becoming more centered towards the elections and Hartz IV.

Why did the extremist parties win so much votes ? Because of the reform concept Hartz IV. One picture of a 'Ossi' screaming and showing the middle finger was passed around in nearly all the main print medias. A reporter asked this guy how much he gets...
He answered that, being unemployed just having a parttime-job, he would get a total of 1730 Euros. Being asked why he protested so furious he answered that some guy at his bar told himthat with Hartz IV he wouldnt be allwoed to keep any of the money from his parttime job...If the average voter of the extremists is that kind of informed I dont think its a wunder they won.

@Gabi : 'Er war vorher falsch, und ist es jetzt.'
I dont think that the argument itself is wrong. Its the intention its used with. The DVU and NPD are using it with the thought of cultural purity for germans, while the greens are trying to communicate independence from America and the NATO...


"Not sure what the fuss is, but why do we care if the Krauts vote for parties to extreme ends of the left and right?"

Dont call us KRAUTS, you dumb ZUPFER

"they cannot comprehend why a country that used to stand for freedom and democracy, attacks another one without having a proper reason to do so."

Apparently Germans had no problems when the US used force in the case of Bosnia. Wait that was good because it was in Europe's interest and the president was a Democrat. And what I want to know is what exactly does Germany stand for? Holier-than-thou defenders of tyrannical regimes? Sorry, I don't see Germany as having any moral high ground.

as an American who lives in Germany, I am struck
by the amount of scapegoating here..
the asylum seekers 'especially the people from the former Yugoslavia' - (I hear that quote alot) are blamed for quite a bit.
NOW.. if the US hadn't intervened in the Balkans, there would have been many more asylum seekers - people running away from slaughter..
SO - Germany was all for THOSE wars (bosnia and kosovo), because it was in Germany's interest NOT to have more asylum seekers..
in fact Aussenminister Fischer was 'mit Feuer und Flamme dabei' in Kosovo..
Kosovo was 'unilateral' and not UN sanctioned.. but the German government had no problems with that... of course it was in their best interests..
so war is unacceptable to the Germans.. except when it is in their interests..

Embarrasing election results indeed. But what did anybody expect? In a nation where most everybody strongly believes that the entitlement to government money is the #1 paragraph of the constitution and therefore the most important issue, it is understandable what is going on.
There is still a large divide between East and West Germany, especially in the mindset. There will be for generations to come. Let's not forget, both elections were held in Eastern Germany, where people were communists just 14 years ago. A lot of them still are obviousely. The West failed to show real work and progress and the fruits thereof to their Eastern brothers during the last 14 years, simply because they degenerated to a lazy freebie society protesting for more money,less work, longer vacations and more social programs. That's what the "Ossis" learned and picked up. Now the money bag is empty and to some, back to communism sounds not so bad.
The Germans need to straighten up, just like the generation of post WW2 did during the 50's and 60's. Nobody did complain about a 50 hour week back then. Granted, the job market has changed since, it is difficult in todays world to achieve full employment for any nation in the world.
But the mindset of people is what is making the difference. Germany has become a "whine babie" nation, unable to react to circumstances. They loose their shirt in just about every category of life. Manufacturing, engineering, education, all of what was great is going to the boonies. Even soccer!! For heavens sake, will this land ever wake up to a challenge again?? When do people realize, that times have changed? Stop protesting for more money, quit supporting the destructive course of the uninons. Keep your employer in business and competetive. Show some pride in what you do. The downfall of Germany's economy is a prime example of "Too big Government" at work. It should serve as a role model in american school books how not to run a country. Every voter in the US should make a quick checklist of things wrong here in Germany and connect them to Bush and Kerry accordingly.
If that could be done, George W: Bush will win in a landslide.

^^^ nothing to add. Good post JR.

and connect them to Bush and Kerry accordingly.
If that could be done...

Dunno about that. Seems to me the big difference between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. is that Republicans say they want smaller government and Democrats say they want bigger government but when elected, both parties expand the size and reach of government. Best example, R. Reagan. Oddly, they spend the money on the same things. Everything got bigger under Reagan. No modern president (or any other) has actually led the charge of smaller government once elected.

To Pamela:
The voter turnout was more or less the same (Saxony: down from 61,1 in 1999 to 59,6 now, Brandenburg: up to 56,6 from 54,3 in 1999).
Effectively, there are 71.000 people voting for DVU in Brandenburg and about 190.000 voting for NPD in Saxony.
The general trend is, that the Nazis are strong in rural areas and weak in the cities.

The main topic is - of course - the economy and the reform "Hartz IV", as stated here before. In short, the reform was intented "to boost and to challenge" (fördern und fordern), meaning: the challenge is that as an long-term unemployed person, you only get less money as before, depending on your needs and not (as before) depending on your last salary. The term "to boost" means, that the "arbeitsagentur" (job center) should be turned into a more effective office, bringing more people to work again (even if it is less paid than before). The East Germans now fear, that they will suffer from reduced social welfare, but not benefit from the more effective office - because there a no jobs in east germany anyway. In this situation, they feel as the losers and will vote for every pied piper turning around the corner.
To make things worse, they are not so far from the truth. The most young and mobile people from east germany have left long ago. The east german population dropped by more than 2.5 millions since the unification and the rest has been overhauled by the eastern rush to the new EU-Members. They cannot produce so cheap as Poland or the Czech Republic (even they start to move their production to Belarus or the Ukraine).

So the people left in East Germany don't have any hope and feel frustrated. What would you expect them to do? IMO, the rate of 6% DVU and 9-10% NPD is at the end no reason to turn into despair.

To Bob:
The problem with the FDP is, that saying the right thing and doing it are two things. When the son of a lawyer who has been paid everything including his study, who has NOT served in the army or any alternative civilian service (although every German is obliged to do this) - if such a person tries to tell the people that they should be more self-standing and praise free-enterprise, would you believe him? That he tried to disguise his obvious homosexuality is another sad thing ruining his credibility.
Another problem with the FDP is, that there is some sediment of REALLY right-wing nationalists or anti-semitic dickheads left (remember Moellemann and his flyer against Sharon).

oops. that was my post ^^

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