Flensburg Flyer FYI: 8 April, 2011

The last couple of days have witnessed some unexpected twists and turns in Germany. Some were surprising, others were tragic. In either case, the Flensburg Files presents you with the Flyer Files, a short FYI News Flash providing you with a glimpse of the eye-opening events occurring in Germany which may interest the readers elsewhere. Here are the Flyer Files’ Top Three Pics:

Sandstorm causes massive pile-up in Mecklenburg-Pommerania

8 April, 2011, Rostock

Normally one can find sandstorms in the northern half of Africa and the Middle East, where there is vast amounts of sand blowing freely in the air blinding even the bravest camel riders and nomads. Normally in Germany, storms bringing high winds and zero-visibility can be found in the form of snowstorms; mostly in the northern third where the land consists of rolling hills. Friday brought forth freakish weather as high winds throughout Germany produced a sandstorm near Rostock, the largest city in Mecklenburg-Pommerania located on the Baltic Sea coast. Even freakier was the 80-car pile-up on the Autobahn Motorway 19 south of the city that occurred in the early afternoon as the storm reduced visibility to zero in the matter of seconds! Eight people were killed and at least 60 were injured (many serious) as the vehicles slammed into each other, causing fires to 13 of them. A truck carrying toxic chemicals was among those involved in the wreck. Many people were trapped in cars and could not free themselves. According to  police spokeswoman Yvonne Burand,  “This is the worst traffic accident the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania has ever seen.”  Germany’s transportation minister Peter Ramsauer reacted to the storm by adding “Such extreme forces of nature show that there are limits even to the greatest efforts to ensure safety on our roads.”  The nature of the storm however is not unusual as high winds can blow the top soil off the fields, producing poor visibility, which hampered rescue efforts at the scene of the pile-up. “Storms like this are nothing unusual in the north of Germany,” said Gerhard Lux, spokesperson for the German Weather Service. “It is more the case, here, that a series of unfortunate circumstances led to the pile-up.” The Motorway is still closed until further notice, as the clean-up may last through the weekend.

Links:  http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14976864,00.html; http://www.ndr.de/regional/mecklenburg-vorpommern/karambolage101.html

Philipp Rösler as main candidate to lead the FDP

6 April, 2011, Berlin

Being of Vietnamese descent, Philipp Rösler had already made a name for himself when he was appointed to head the ministry of health in 2009 by Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the youngest politicians ever to take this post. Now he will pad his political resumé by taking the reigns as chair of the Free Liberal Party, the FDP and the second in line to succeed Ms. Merkel. Assuming that there will be no competition from other members of the party, he will officially be selected to take the spot when the FDP convention takes place in Rostock in May of this year, as he is officially a candidate, and his role of party chair is only temporary at this time. He takes over the role from Guido Westerwelle, who resigned from this post on Sunday in response to the party’s brutal showing in the last elections in three states, where the FDP failed to reach the 5% hurdle to stay in state parliament in one state and barely made the mark in the other two. Currently according to the Forsa Political Forecast, should the elections take place this year, the free liberals would receive only 3% of the votes, thus resulting in the party not being able to take part in the German parliament, the Bundestag. Opposition party leaders believe that having Rösler will not solve the problems the party has, which is the lack of political platform and the indecision on issues, like nuclear energy in Germany and the country’s role in assisting other countries in dire need of financial support in response to the economic crisis that started in 2008 and has lingered since then.

Link: http://www.mdr.de/mdr-aktuell/8432291.html

Greens now the largest oppositional party

6 April, 2011, Berlin

Germany is known to many as the green heart of Europe, given the lucious forests that dominate much of the country, plus the various forms of vegetation that one will find there. Now the country has become greener as the Forsa Political Forecast, an independent polling agency conducting the survey for the German magazine Stern, has indicated that the Greens have taken over the Social Democrats (SPD) as the main oppositional party. The party headed by Claudia Roth has received 28% of the vote, 2% less than the Christian Democrats (CDU) headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, while the SPD slipped to 3rd place with 23%. The socialist party Die Linke and the FDP rounded out the survey. Should the elections take place on Sunday, the Greens would elect their first German Chancellor ever in the history of the German Republic, thanks to its long history of an alliance with the SPD in forming the Red-Green coalition. The FDP would not be able to participate in the Bundestag because at 3%, it would be short of the 5% hurdle. Apart from the strongest showing in its history two weeks ago in the state elections in Saxony-Anhalt, Rheinland-Palatinate and Baden Württemberg, it made history with the election of its first state prime minister in Baden-Württemberg, as the majority of the voters made their point clear that nuclear energy should be replaced with alternative sources of energy. This comes in light of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that struck the area a few weeks ago. The Greens have championed the shutting down of all nuclear reactors in the country, something that the CDU and FDP opposes. However, the danger to the Greens at the moment, according to political scientist Werner Patzelt of the Technical University of Dresden, is that once the topic of nuclear energy is out of the spotlight, the Greens will need to find other points that will make it credible to the voters, including social and family policies as well as other health and environmental topics affecting the country.  With state elections coming up in June and September in three more states, it will be interesting to find out whether or not the Greens will continue to stay its course as the second largest party in Germany, or if the SPD will regain that position. Should the Greens solidify that position then Germany will become the first state to have three major parties instead of the traditional two, like other countries have, such as the Democrats and Republicans in the United States. And as frustrated as the Americans are with the state of the economy and the political system- especially the disappointment in President Obama- it would not be surprising that a third party candidate with a lot of appeal will be elected by the voters in the 2012 Presidential elections, regardless of who it is….

Link:  http://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/8444960.html; http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14969895,00.html