Monday, October 21, 2013

Election affinities update

Socialist beer in Bielefeld: "Poor or rich, beer is here for all alike."  From Schnipselfriedhof.
On the aftermath of September's parliamentary elections in Germany, a quick and painless "I told you so." When the international press screamed "romp to victory" for Chancellor Merkel and "personal vindication" and what not, I looked at the [jump]
numbers and realized that it was anything but. It was a qualified win for Merkel's conservative party but a serious defeat for her government, which would now have to be replaced by a new "Grand" coalition, where she would remain as Bundeskanzlerin but with new Social Democrat partners and a greatly reduced freedom of action.

Not that anybody listened to me, of course. She wants a coalition with the SPD, they said, to take some of the heat for the more austerity she intends to offer. Only she clearly didn't, having spent the past month pursuing the only barely imaginable alternative way she might stay in office, a coalition with the Greens that finally collapsed of its own implausibility on Wednesday.

Now the negotiations with the SPD have begun, and the Sozis have released their list of demands, as reported by Reuters:
The SPD's willingness to enter talks comes at a price. The party listed 10 demands it called "non-negotiable", including a minimum wage of 8.50 euros per hour, equal pay for men and women, greater investment in infrastructure and education, and a common strategy to boost euro zone growth.

"We will negotiate hard so that in the end a workable government emerges. Compromises will be necessary. However the party considers the following points non-negotiable," the SPD declaration said, listing a minimum wage in first place.
They're not asking for tax increases, but the austerity economists are going to be screaming, because a quarter of workers in the former East Germany still earn below the proposed minimum wage. Equal pay for women is a big deal for Germany, I believe, and pro-growth policy for the euro zone is kind of the end of Merkelism. The SPD is refusing to repeat their mistakes in the 2006-09 coalition, when policy surrender to Merkel drove away their base and lost them that election. It's hard to imagine, but Merkel may have unintentionally saved the dear old party's life.

And yes, I told you so. Bows, h/ts and #ftws, and gasps of admiration (smarter than Steven Erlanger!) gratefully accepted.
M.J. Martin, Inductive German Method, Chicago, 1895. Via Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, Madison.

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