Thursday, August 25, 2005
An Electoral Flood
Judge Winfried Hassemer said the panel voted 7-1 in favor of allowing the elections to proceed.The question was whether deliberately losing the vote of confidence was constitutional. More at Spiegel:
Schroeder launched the push for early elections in May after his Social Democrats suffered a stinging defeat in a key state election. He said he needed a new mandate for a reform program that has so far failed to revive Germany's economy, Europe's largest.
President Horst Koehler set the ballot for Sept. 18 after Schroeder deliberately lost a vote of confidence in the lower house in July.
There are important historical reasons for the somewhat stringent rules. They were embedded in the postwar constitution because of Germany's troubling Nazi past. During 14 years of the Weimar Republic, before Hitler rose to power, the country was led by 12 different chancellors and a total of 20 cabinets. The fact that it was relatively easy to dissolve parliament played a large role in the Nazi's ascent.The Social Democrats (SPD) and Schroeder are polling far behind the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Angela Merkel. There does not seem to be any chance for Schroeder, which will probably break the iron-clad German-French bloc which has so much influence within the EU. Germany pays a relatively high percentage of taxes to the EU in comparison with France, but Schroeder continued his EU political alliance with Chirac at all costs for the relative power and influence it afforded Germany within the EU. Last year Merkel met with Sarkozy of France. See here for a range of articles on the German election. The wild card is how the third parties do and how the alliances between the parties work out after the election. The uneasiness in France continues.
So, it was no easy task for the judges in Karlsruhe. The court's vice president, Winifred Hassemer, summed up this uneasiness in private comments made after the ruling. In a court of public opinion, he said, Karlsruhe really had a choice between "cholera" and "the plague."
So much for core values.
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