A law Germany should get rid of

April 18th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cleared the way for the prosecution of German comedian Jan Böhmermann, whose poem mocking Turkey’s president has become the centerpiece of a clash between Germany’s free-speech traditions and the government’s efforts to safeguard its important relations with Turkey.

In a news conference Friday, Merkel emphasized that it will now be up to German courts to decide whether Böhmermann is guilty of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But critics — including members of her own government — have described it as a betrayal of values protecting open expression.

“In a country under the rule of law, it is not up to the government to decide,” Merkel said. “Prosecutors and courts should weight personal rights against the freedom of press and art.” …

In her statement Friday, Merkel tried to appease critics by announcing that she would seek to repeal the controversial German law against insulting heads of state.

They should repeal the law. Heads of State are exactly the sort of people who should be able to be insulted, not protected.

The Cologne attacks

January 10th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Marc Champion of Bloomberg writes:

Germany is reeling from the news, hidden for several days because of its political sensitivity, that as many as 90 women were sexually assaulted by a crowd of young men of Middle Eastern appearance outside Cologne’s majestic Cathedral on New Year’s Eve.

This is, as the local police chief put it, a “whole new dimension of crime” for Germans to confront.

No woman in North Africa, however, would be the least bit shocked.

There is a lot we still don’t know about the Cologne attacks, including whether they were organised ahead of time on social media and whether the actual culprits were refugees, petty criminals who have been plying the area around Cologne’s train station for years, or both. All the police have said is that the complaints were made, in one case of rape, and that the men were aged 18 to 35, many of them drunk and of “Arab or North African” origin.

The attacks are not a reason to not take in refugees. They are a reason to be selective of which refugees you take in, and vet them through the UNHCR system rather than just let them stream over the border.

No matter what the details, this will be political dynamite for Chancellor Angela Merkel. The new mayor of Cologne, who was stabbed in the neck during her election campaign over her support for Merkel’s pro-refugee policies, is already being hounded on social media for absurdly advising women to keep “an arm’s length” from strange men during the city’s carnival season next month.

Almost the ultimate in victim blaming.

Germany says nein to US

July 12th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Germany has told the CIA station chief in Berlin to leave the country in a dramatic display of anger from Chancellor Angela Merkel at the behaviour of a close ally after officials unearthed two suspected US spies.

The scandal has chilled relations with Washington to levels not seen since Merkel’s predecessor opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. It follows allegations that Merkel herself, who grew up in Stasi-ridden East Germany, was among thousands of Germans whose mobile phones have been bugged by American agents.

“Spying on allies … is a waste of energy,” the chancellor said in her most pointed public remarks yet on the issue. “We have so many problems, we should focus on the important things.” …

US government sources said the official – whom neither side named – was Berlin station chief for the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency. A German source said the man would face possible forcible expulsion if he did not leave voluntarily.

This is an unprecedented fall out between allies. I can’t say I blame the Germans. Spying on your opponents and enemies, but not your allies.

Europe according to the Germans

July 6th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar



Sent in by e-mail by a reader. Very good.

Could we get a CDU/Green Government in Germany?

February 1st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Economist reports:

THE incumbent is the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), rules in coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), and is more popular than opposition challengers from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens. The only worry is the fate of the FDP. Polls say it may get less than 5% of the votes, the threshold to enter parliament. If the CDU loses its coalition partner, the SPD and Greens combined could be stronger. The CDU’s supporters understand this dilemma and tactically “lend” their votes to the FDP to keep it in parliament. So the FDP surges at the last minute—but entirely at the expense of the CDU. By the narrowest of margins, the centre-left parties then win, and form the new government.

This describes the situation in Lower Saxony, a state in northern Germany that held an election on January 20th. A well-liked CDU premier, David McAllister, and his FDP partners lost power to Stephan Weil, the SPD’s candidate, and his Green allies. The margin decided just before midnight, in what a moist-eyed Mr McAllister called a “heart-stopping finale”, was a single seat (69-68). “We are all very sad,” said Angela Merkel, the chancellor and CDU national leader, who campaigned hard for Mr McAllister (they are pictured above).

Sounds like NZ somewhat!

But it is Mrs Merkel who must make the subtlest recalculations. So far, she has governed and campaigned with a style that German boffins call “asymmetric demobilisation,” meaning that she has tactically stolen issues from the centre-left opposition by enacting them pre-emptively or signalling that she might. The latest example is a minimum wage, which the left demands and to which she (but not the FDP) seems open. This may make supporters of the SPD and Greens stay at home on polling day, she believes.

The risk is that CDU voters stay at home as well. But she may be showing ideological flexibility for another reason. As the FDP becomes a wild card, and the coalition arithmetic of an SPD-Green majority is so uncertain, the odds rise of an alliance between the CDU and either the Greens or the SPD. She knows it can be done, having spent her first term in a “grand coalition” with the SPD (and Mr Steinbrück as finance minister). “One thing is for sure,” says Uwe Alschner of Poliethics.com, a strategy consultancy. “Germany’s political system will shift left.”

I think a CDU/Green Government in Germany could well occur.

Let Greece leave the Euro

June 19th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Filippos Nikolopoulos, a sociology professor at Crete University and SYRIZA supporter, said that Tsipras’s fans were jubilant because they had won new force and authority by increasing their share of the vote so much on Sunday.

“We want Europe, we want to cooperate,” he said. “But we do not want to be subjugated by (German Chancellor) Mrs Merkel.”

Stathis Stavropoulos, a newspaper cartoonist famous for his drawings depicting German officials preaching austerity at Greece as Nazi taskmasters, said the new conservative government would have the people of Greece against it from the outset.

“Our dream of European union was very different,” he told Reuters. “It was a union of countries and peoples, not a union to serve banks and not a Fourth German Reich.”

Using the term for a Nazi regional leader under Hitler’s Reich, Stavropoulos added: “Our country is under occupation. How would you feel if they sent a Gauleiter to run your country and tell you what to do ?”

The cartoonist said he had nothing against the German people or other European nations. Indeed, he had never visited Berlin, Paris or London – but was familiar with Moscow, Beijing and Nicaragua from his Communist activities.

“The Soviet Union may have ended but not the dream of democratic communism,” he sighed wistfully.

I detest this blaming of Germany, when in fact the poor German taxpayer has thrown billions of Euros at helping keep Greece solvent.

It is becoming clear the Euro is a flawed concept. For a common currency to work, you need a common economy. I think a number of countries should and will leave the Euro. This will allow their new currency to be set at a level which makes their economy competitive again.

The Eagle’s Nest

August 17th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Eagle’s Nest, or Kehlsteinhaus, is a chalet on a mountain peak near Berchtesgaden in Bavaria. Only 30 kms or so from Salzburg. You don’t even realise you have crossed into another country unless you see the discrete sign.

It is famous for having been gifted to Hitler as a 50th birthday present. After the war there was a big debate about whether it should be destroyed, as happened to most buildings associated with the regime. They decided in the end not to destroy it, partly because in fact Hitler almost never went there.

It is important to stress that the facility is in no way a monument to the Nazis. On the contrary, all the books about the site talk about the 12 years of Nazi rule as a blight on Germany’s reputation etc.

The building and road were constructed in 1938. The 4 metre wide road was blasted out of nothing and is basically one lane, so you can only go up in special buses. They take you to the tunnel you can see above. You then go 100 metres or so into the tunnel, and a lift takes you up 124 metres into the chalet, which is now a restaurant.

There are spectacular views from the location. With the lack of public access, it would have been very secluded. One a fine day you can see up to 200 kms away.

A couple enjoying the breath taking views.

The chalet, as seen from the lookout just above it.

Up on the lookout peak.

I’m only a couple of metres away from sheer cliff.

Another view from the chalet.

I discovered that rather than that the lift back down, you could walk back to the carpark. Was a lovely walk, except for the fact I brushed my arm against some stinging nettle.

Final Germany Election Results

September 28th, 2009 at 8:37 pm by David Farrar

The final resuts:

  • CDU 194 (+14)
  • CSU 45 (-1)
  • FDP 93 (+32)
  • SDP 146 (-76)
  • Greens 68 (+17)
  • The Left 76 (+22)

The three CR parties have 332 seats and you need 312 to govern so a comfortable majority.

The German Pirate Party got a respectable 845,904 votes which is 2% of the vote.

I was thinking that it is probably after next years UK elections we will have CR Governments in UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and NZ. Not bad.

German Election Results

September 28th, 2009 at 9:53 am by David Farrar

Election geeks can get the results directly here.

It looks good for Merkel with 233 268 289/299 results received. So far the party vote (previous figures were electorate vote by mistake) is:

  • CDU/CSU 34.6% 34.1%
  • FDP 14.8% 14.6%
  • SPD 22.8% 22.9%
  • Greens 10.6%
  • The Left 11.2% 11.8%

The CDU/CSU and FDP are on 48.7% so can probably form a Government. The SPD and the Greens have only 33.4%. The SPD have ruled out coalition with The Left.

Unless the combined CDU/CSU + FDP vote falls under 48%, they will form the Government. If it falls away then it might be another grand coalition.

For those not up with German politics the CDU are basically the conservative party and the CSU is their equivalent in Bavaria. The CSU tend to be more conservative on social issues and less liberal on economic issues.

The FDP are a liberal party – on both social and economic issues. In the past they have had long spells in Government with both the CDU and SPD but since the mid 1980s have really only sided with the CDU.

The SPD is the social democratic party, or main party of the left. The Greens are similiar to the Greens here but significantly more rational. For example the supported NATO action in Kosovo and German troops to Afghanistan and in Hamburg are in coalition with the CDU.

The Left is the most hardcore left party, and hence ruled out of coalition by the SDP. It is the successor to the former East German ruling party until 1989. They have done relatively well of late due to the SDP being in a grand coalition with the CDU/CSU. This is one of the problems of grand coalitions – it helps the extreme parties.

An endorsement you don’t want

September 19th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I doubt the SPD in Germany appreciate this implicit endorsement:

AL-Qaeda has warned Germans to change their government in the September 27 election, saying they will face a “bad awakening” if they do not, according to two intelligence monitoring services.

Germany was also told to withdraw its 4200 troops from Afghanistan or face being attacked at home, the US-based groups said.

In video footage a man identified as Abu Talha the German, and speaking in German, says that if Chancellor Angela Merkel is re-elected, “bitter times await the Germans,” according to IntelCenter and the SITE Intelligence Group. …

He appears to suggest that if German voters do not heed his warnings, Al-Qaeda will act within a fortnight.

The SDP candidate for Chancellor is actually the Foreign Minister in the grand coalition Government, so I doubt there will be a huge change either way.

Angela Merkel

August 26th, 2009 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has an informative profile on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A good read.

The German election is on 27 September, and I will probably coverit  a few times.

There is probably going to be an International Young Democrat Union Freedom Forum in Berlin in November 2009 – on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not sure I will be able to make it – flying to Europe is a nightmare and not worth doing unless you are going to stay for a decent period. And November is not exactly summer in Germany. Temperatures normally range from 2°C to 7°C.

On the other hand I regard the collapse of the Berlin Wall as the most important world event in my lifetime, and marking the 20th anniversary in Berlin would be cool.