Monday, August 15, 2005

Dirty Tricks to Stop the Left in Germany

by Fintan Dunne, 15 Aug, 2005

Ahead of the upcoming German election, suspicious foot-in-mouth statements by a conservative politician hint of an establishment trying to contain the growing leftist trend among voters opposed to the neo-liberal cast of German and EU economic policies.

Edmund Stoiber, the head of Bavaria's regional government in southern Germany, earlier this month lashed out at east Germans, saying "only the stupidest cows would choose themselves as their butcher". He called them "frustrated people" who were "not as clever" as his native Bavarians.

The criticism was aimed at the 33 per cent of east German voters who have thrown their support behind a new radical "Left Party". But the remarks have embarrassed Angela Merkel, leading light of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), sister party to Mr Stoiber's CSU.

A recent poll saw Merkel's Christian Democrats at 42 per cent; Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats -currently in power- at 29 per cent; and the radical left alliance Linksbuendnis at 11 per cent.

Schroeder siezed on the opportunity Saturday as he opened his party's campaign for next month's elections. "Our duty is not to divide our people but bring them together," he said. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of Schroeder's partners, the Greens weighed in also, denouncing what he called "the rebuilding of the [Berlin] Wall in people's minds."

And Schröder also sought to boost his electoral chances with a waring to President Bush against going to war against Iran. That contrived Iranian 'nuclear crisis' seems in part designed to give Schroeder a chance to replay the 'independent Germany' facade which saved his party's bacon in the 2002 elections.

The German establishment has other ideas to stop the march of the Left. Earlier this month, lawyers from the German Federal Constitutional Court said that the Left has misused federal electoral laws in some German states, leading to fears that states may prevent the Linksbuendnis from taking part in September’s vote.

Many Germans are skeptical about the economic policies advocated by the CDU, the SPD and the Green Party. Trade unions, workers and parties from the Left don't want the renowned German welfare state to be dismantled.

But with a poll showing 39 per cent of German citizens would accept a conservative CDU and Shcroeder SPD "Grand Coalition", the latest conservative foot-in-mouth incident may have been designed to bury the chance of a conservative win and finesse a Schroeder-led coalition into power to block the Left.

It looks like Edmund Stoiber, like John Kerry in the U.S., may be playing politics to the agenda of those who manipulate the political options on offer --rather than allow the political results the voters want.

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