2017 German Federal Elections: A Preview

Germans go to the polls on 24 September to elect their new Chancellor- A lot of questions still exists

After the US, Dutch and French elections, the German elections, which will take place on 24 September 2017, will be the decisive factor on how Germany will be governed for the next four years. Yet like the Presidential Elections that brought Donald Trump to power, this election will decide the fate of the European Union as well as the rest of the world, going forward, as there are several factors that will influence the voters’ decision on which party should rule the Bundestag in Berlin. Furthermore, given Germany’s economic, social and political leverage on Brussels as well as the United Nations, people are praying that whoever is elected Chancellor will be the one that will shape the country and take it into the direction that is the most desirable both nationally as well as globally.  Factors influencing the political decision among the voters include:

Germany’s role in terms of environmental policy– among other things, renewable energy, climate change and protecting flora and fauna

Germany’s role in terms of refugee policy, which includes integration of those qualified to live in the country and quick deportation of the unqualified and criminals

Germany’s role in international relations, especially within the EU and with the US. While President Trump would rather have Frauke Petry of the AfD (even though she is now on maternity leave) instead of the incumbent Angela Merkel of the CDU, Germany is trying to shore up relations with countries still loyal with the EU, while fighting fires caused by the far right governments of Poland, Turkey and Hungary, as well as Great Britain’s Teresa May.

Germany’s role in domestic policies and how it can close the ever continuing widening gap between the rich and the  poor, as well as improve on the country’s education system

Even more important are some thought provoking questions that are on the minds of all Germans, Americans living in Germany (including yours truly) and other foreigners living in Germany, for whoever rules the country for the next four years will have an impact on the lives of others, for each party has its own agenda that is different than that of the policies of Chancellor Merkel up until now. For some parties, this election could be make or break because of their struggle to win support. Here are some questions that are of concern as we bite our nails and worry about 24 September:

  1. Will Angela Merkel win her fourth term, thus be on the path to break the longest power streak of serving 16 years, set by the late Helmut Kohl (1982-1998; he died in June of this year)?
  2. Will the Martin Schulz Effect save the Social Democrats (SPD) or mark the beginning of the end of the centralist party?
  3. Will the Free Democratic Party return to the Bundestag after breaking the 5% barrier?
  4. Are too many windmills too much for the Greens?
  5. Will the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) continue its winning streak and roll into parliament? If so could it even overrun the CDU and even govern Berlin?
  6. Will the Leftist Party (Linke) serve as the counterpunch to the AfD or will it need help?
  7. Will this election mark the last for the Nationalist Party of Germany (NPD)?

These questions will be answered through my observations of the election, which will be after the tallies are counted and we know which parties will form a coalition and elect our next leader. We need to keep in mind that the German elections are different than the American ones as we elect two parties- one primary and one as second vote, and the new Chancellor is elected after a coalition is formed between two or more parties. Currently, we have the Grand Coalition, which features Merkel’s CDU and the SPD. Yet we have seen coalitions with other smaller parties. A party can have the absolute majority if more than 50% of the votes are in their favor.

To better understand the multi-party system, there are a pair of useful links you can click onto, which will provide you with an insight on the German election system. Both are useful for children, and both are in German, which makes it useful to learn the language.

Checker Tobi:  http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Die-Checker/Checker-Tobi-extra-Warum-w%C3%A4hlen-wichtig/Das-Erste/Video?bcastId=39903768&documentId=45989192

logo! on ZDF: https://www.zdf.de/kinder/logo/bundestagswahl-aktuell-100.html

Fellow American collegial column Leipzig Glocal produced an article on the multi-party election system and the number of parties that could run in the elections. Details on that can be found here:

Federal Elections 2017: party roll call

While I cannot vote on the count of my American citizenship (though ideas of switching sides have lingered since Trump’s elections) like other American expats, I can only stress the importance of going to the polls on the 24th. Your vote counts because we are at the crossroads. Can we do it, like Merkel said with taking on the refugees in 2015? Or can we afford to experiment and if so at what price? Only your vote will make a difference. So go out there and vote. And allow me to comment once there is a new Chancellor, be it another four years of Merkel (and the flirt with Kohl’s record) or with someone else……

Viel Glück und Glück auf! 🙂

 

 

Germany Quiz Nr. 4: The Answers to the Questions about Lower Saxony

Can you guess what this building is? It's located in Brunswick in Lower Saxony. Photo taken in February 2015

There was a request by one of the readers asking for just some interesting facts about Germany and some of the states instead of the Q & A that has been posted to date. My response is by taking the Q & A away, it will take the art out of finding out the most interesting facts about states, like this one: Lower Saxony.   😉   Admittedly there is so much to write about that even some questions had to be left out of this Quiz on Germany. But admittedly, the questions are a challenge and for those wanting the answers to the facts about this rather populous northern German state and their people, here they are below. Please note, the highlighted names contains links with additional information for you to click on and look at:

🙂

Variety Pack Questions:

  1. Eight German States and the Baltic Sea border Lower Saxony, making it the most bordered state in Germany. True of False?

False. Counting the enclavement of Bremen, Lower Saxony is bordered by NINE states (Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Pommerania, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Hesse, Bremen, and North-Rhine Westphalia), plus the NORTH Sea. It also shares a border with The Netherlands to the west. Now that’s a LOT of states. 

2a. Lower Saxony was officially established after World War II in 1946 and consisted of the mergers of four former kingdoms. Name two of the four kingdoms.  Hanover, Schaumburg-Lippe, Brunswick and Oldenburg

2b. Of the four kingdoms, which one was the largest? Hanover  

Note: It was suggested that a state of Hanover was created through the British Zone, but inspite of debates and protests, all four of the former kingdoms merged to become the state and was subsequentially renamed Lower Saxony. Today the names exists but as part of the 38 districts that exist in the state.

  1. Put the following cities in order based on population from largest to smallest:

Oldenburg    Brunswick (Braunschweig)   Stade    Wolfsburg    Hannover   Lüneburg   Uelzen   Emden  Osnabrück

ANS:  1. Hanover (518,386); 2. Brunswick (247,227); 3. Oldenburg (159,610); 4. Osnabrück (156,315); 5. Wolfsburg (122,457); 6. Lüneburg (73,581) 7. Emden (49,790); 8. Stade (45,317); 9. Uelzen (33,269)

  1. Lower Saxony is ranked SECOND in size behind Bavaria and FOURTH in population behind Bavaria, North Rhine Westphalia and Hesse, but is the state that is the most dense population of Germany.  True or False (just the points in cursive and bold print)

Lower Saxony is ranked fourth in population behind Bavaria, NRW and BADEN-WURTTEMBERG (ans. for 1st part is false)

But the state is the most densely populated in all of Germany. (True)

  1. Which rivers flow through and/or in Lower Saxony? Name three of them.

ANS: Elbe, Oker, Ems, Weser, Aller, Seeve, Aue, and others

  1. Braunkohl is a German vegetable that is well known in Lower Saxony and can be served with a local sausage. True or false?

TRUE: Never mistake this term with Braunkohle (brown coal) that you can find in the Ruhr River region and near Zittau in the Black Triangle Region. Both this rare cabbage type and the local (curry) sausage are a tasty combination.

  1. At Steinhuder Lake,located west of Osnabrück, you will find eels. True or false?

FALSE: True there is a Steinhuder Lake and the eels are easy to find (and delicious when eating them), BUT the lake is northwest of Hanover. 

  1. Das Alte Land, located in the vicinity of the Elbe River north and west of Hamburg is Germany’s fruit garden. Name three fruits that grow there annually.  Apples, Pears, Cherries, Berries, and other fruits. 

Multiple Choice:  Choose the correct city to answer the questions.

  1. Which city is home of one of the three automobile manufacturers in Germany. Choose the city and fill in the blank regarding the car brand. (Hint: Fahrvergnügend is still the most popular car brand in the world.)

a. Wilhelmshaven          b. Wolfsburg         c. Celle       d. Lüneburg      e. Hannover

The car brand?  If you don’t know the car brand VOLKSWAGEN, Das Auto, then there’s something seriously wrong with you. 😉 

  1. Which city in Lower Saxony does not have a college or university?  How many colleges and universities does the state have?  ANS HERE: 26; six of them are in Hanover.

a. Hildesheim     b. Göttingen     c. Hannover    d. Cuxhaven     e. Emden

f. Vechta      g. Bremervörde

  1. In this town (A), you can try a drink with a spoon (B), but don’t forget to say your blessings first. 😉

A:

a. Bad Zwischenahn          b. Bad Brahmburg      c. Leer        d. Norden

e. Bad Oldesloe     f. Brunswick

B:

a. Braunschweiger Mumme      b. Löffeltee      c. Ammerländer Löffeltrunk

d. Angler Muck     e. Toter Bruder

LINK: AMMERLÄNDER LÖFFELTRUNK

  1. Which city in Lower Saxony is not located in the Harz Mountains? (!: There are two different answers)

a. Goslar           b. Clausthal        c. Wenigerode        d. Osterode      e. Salzgitter       f. Braunlage

  1. Which city does not have a premier league sports team?

a. Buxtehude     b. Hannover      c. Brunswick      d. Emden       e. Oldenburg

  1. The New York Lions in the German American Football League is actually located in which city?

a. Hannover     b. Bremen        c. Brunswick       d. Göttingen     e. Celle

  1. Germany has the only true transporter bridge in left the country. It is located in Lower Saxony in which community?

a. Ostende      b. Hannover     c. Wilhelmshaven     d. Stade     e. Brunswick

LINK: TRANSPORTER BRIDGE AT OSTENDE

  1. The only combination cantilever-suspension-swing bridge left in Germany (and perhaps on European soil) is located in Lower Saxony. Where exactly is this bridge?

a. Göttingen    b. Wilhelmshaven    c. Lauenburg    d. Stadland   e. Hannover         f. Wattenscheid

LINK: WILHELMSHAVEN SWING BRIDGE

  1. Which town in Lower Saxony will you most likely find in the US?

a. Emden    b. Bergen     c. Hanover     d. Oldenburg    e. Berne    f. Uelzen

FACT: There are 19 towns in the US that carry the name Hanover, as well as 23 townships. The largest of them is Hanover, New Hampshire, where the state university is located. That one has 11,800 inhabitants.

Celebrities and Birth Places: Determine whether these statements are true or false. If false, correct the statements

  1. Maria Furtwängler, an actress who plays Charlotte Lindholm in the Tatort-Hannover series originates from Hanover.

ANS: False. She was born in Munich and belongs to one of the most powerful dynasties that still exist in Germany today. 

  1. Heiner Brand, head coach of the German National Handball Team, was born and raised in Brunswick.

ANS: False. Brand was born in Gummersbach in North Rhine Westphalia. He is the only German handball player and coach to have won the World Championship both as a player (1978) and a coach (2007). He was coach of the German National Handball Team from 1997 until his resignation in 2011, taking the team all the way to the World Cup Championship in 2007.

  1. In the film the Inglorious Bastards by Quentin Tarrantino, there were no German actors/actresses.

ANS: It would not be typical of the well-cultured producer and director to not have native-born German actors/actresses in a film, whose setting was in Nazi Germany. At least 25 people, including Daniel Brühl and Til Schweiger were casted alongside Brad Pitt in this film. This included Diane Kruger, who was born in Hildesheim (near Hanover) and played Bridget von Hammersmark in the film. A well-thought film produced by a well-known name, but the answer to this question is clearly FALSE!

  1. Gerhard Schröder, the successor of Chancellor Angela Merkel, was born in Mecklenburg-Pommerania but grew up in Lower Saxony.

ANS: False. He was born and raised in Lower Saxony and even started his career in politics during his university days in Göttingen, thus paving a path to chancellorship, which he ruled Germany from 1998 until his landslide defeat in early elections in 2005, into the hands of the country’s current chancellor, Angela Merkel.

  1. Herbert Grönemeyer calls Göttingen home. No wonder because he was born there.

ANS: True. Yet he was born there because his mother brought him into the world through a specialist in a very unusual way (read more here). He however was raised in Bochum in North Rhine Westphalia.

  1. The band The Scorpions was established in Hanover with the lead singer originating from there.

ANS: True. Klause Meine originated from Hanover. Together with Rudolf Schenker (who was born in Hildesheim), the band was founded in Hanover. It is the longest running band in Germany and second longest in the world behind the Rolling Stones, having been in business for over 50 years.

  1. The Creator of English for Runaways originally came from Emden.

ANS: False. Heinz Heygen was born in Frankfurt/Main.

  1.  Chris Barrie, a Hannoverer  who starred in the Tomb Raider movie, grew up in Northern Ireland.

ANS: True

  1. Prince Ernst Augustus of Hanover was born in Hanover.

ANS: It is logical that the Prince, who is married to Princess Caroline of Monaco, and has his residence in Hanover, must be naturally-born Hannoverer. Hence, True. 🙂

BONUS QUESTION: Can you guess what that building in Brunswick is?

The building is the site of the Tauch Center, located across the Oker River from the campus of the Technical University. When it was built and other details is unknown, but you are free to add some information in the comment section if you wish to do that.

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