Thursday, September 22, 2005

What The Hell Is Up With Germany?

Germany had an election the other day and no one seems to have won. Jim Rose explains:

The German parliament is called the Bundestag. It currently has 617+ seats (this often flucuates for reasons that will be covered later), thus a political party or a coalition of parties need to have a little more than 300 seats in order to rule.

The Chancellor is chosen by a majority vote of the Bundestag, much the way our House of Representatives elects a Speaker, thus if one party doesn't win more than 300 seats, political deals become vital. So, here's what happened in this weekend's election:

Christian Democrats (Merkel): 225 seats
Socialist Democrats (Schroeder): 222 seats
Free Democrats (Free-Market Capitalists): 61
Green Party (Environmental Wackos): 55 seats
Left Party (Commies and extreme nutjobs): 54 seats

So as you can see, no one party got over 300 seats, so a coalition must be formed.

The Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats get along and would gladly form one, but that's only 286. The Socialist Democrats and the Greens like each other, but together they only make 277, and all four parties agree on one thing: they'd rather die than work in a coalition with the Left Party.

Ah, ok. So, aren't you glad you live in a country that has a two-party system? One of the benefits of the two-party system is that compromises have to be worked out BEFORE the elections. The party which would want to rule has to state who they are BEFORE they are elected.

Isn't that a keen idea?

Over there in Germany, they elect a party, and then after-the-fact, the Party defines itself through a series of negotiated compromises with people you may or may not agree with. The ruling party has no autonomy. And, in a multi-party system, the ruling party rarely has a mandate, which of course, many times leads to gridlock

The problem with multi-Party Parliamentary systems is that too many wackos get into positions of power. For instance, in one district of Germany, the neo-Nazi Party has won several seats. In fact (little remembered fact here) that's how Hitler gained power in the first place. He didn't win a a majority in a two-party system. He rose to Chancellor of Germany after winning just 35% of the vote in German elections.

In other words, he did not have the support of anywhere near half of the German people. You can understand why that is dangerous. Ten percent of Americans believe Elvis is alive. I'm guessing if you ran on the Elvis ticket, and threw in free pizza and a strong anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, you would be able to clear 35% of the vote in America, no matter who you were, or what the rest of your platform stated.

Now, I'm being absurd, but I think you get the idea.

Anyway, back to present day Germany and the pile of dog crap they slipped in. With the "results" of the election being what they are, Merkel's Party will have to form what is ironically known as a "Grand Coalition" with Schroeder's Party. Oh boy. That would be like George Bush having to share the White House with John Kerry.

And the problem is, both Schroeder and Merkel say they ought to be Chancellor. Them's some big huge shrivelled up testicles on that guy Schroeder to think he ought to have the Chancellorship when he didn't win a majority. But, hey, in Germany, his claim actually makes sense.

Check this crap out (from GeoBandy):

In an eerie echo of performances by recent Democrat presidential election losers Al Gore and John Kerry, leftist German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose Social Democrats were defeated in Germany’s national elections last week, is insisting that he actually won and should still be the chancellor.

BERLIN - A belligerent performance by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in a TV talk show after German elections, which his party narrowly lost, has drawn widespread criticism and fuelled alarm the country could be lurching into a political crisis.

Like most European nations, Germany has a parliamentary system in which the Chancellor, the equivalent of a Prime Minister, is chosen from the party with a parliamentary majority. When, as is the case in the German election, no single party wins a majority, a coalition government is formed by agreement among parties with enough members to total a majority.

Schroeder, however, is demanding that votes be counted differently than they have always been counted and insisting that, once recounted as he demands, his party will have won the election. (Sound familiar?) Schroeder’s performance on German television was, to put it mildly, surreal:

A grinning Schroeder first accused the TV moderators of having "an intellectual problem" and not being objective in their reporting and questioning.

Turning to a grim-looking Merkel he said: "Do you seriously think my party will accept this offer for talks with Frau Merkel? ... Under her leadership she will never get a coalition with my party."

What the hell does the dumb "Frau" think, she's supposed to be in power?