Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Red States vs. Blue Länder

I couldn't help but noticing that the electoral map of Germany reflecting Sunday's election results was similar to the U.S. electoral maps from the last two presidential elections. The Christian Democrats and their allies won most of its seats in the conservative southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemburg, while the Social Democrats and other parties of the Left won most of their seats in the traditionally industrial northern states.

This is not a new phenomenon in German politics; the heavily Roman Catholic southern states have always been the seat of the Right's power in Germany, while the Ruhr, Hamburg, Berlin, and the rest of the industrial North have supported the Socialists. It was just striking to see this division on a map after having spent so much time during the last two U.S. presidential elections looking at similar maps.

The German Right, at least, is not under the thumb of Evangelical Christians. The Christian Democrats are to the left of the U.S. Democratic Party. Nevertheless, if I were German I would have voted for the Greens or perhaps the Linke; the Social Democratic Party of Gerhard Schröder is not the party of Rosa Luxemburg, Willy Brandt, or even of Helmut Schmidt. That said, the Green Party isn't the party of Petra Kelly anymore.

I just hope that Germany is able to preserve a decent level of social benefits for its people. The persistently high levels of unemployment they have been experiencing must be addressed, but I hope they don't swing too far in the direction of neoliberal economic policy.

No comments: