Media predictions and polls cannot decide what must happen as this authority only rests in the hands of voters. Germany looks prone to the effects of what did happen in France–the defeat of right wing populists in France and what did occur in the United States, the victory of Donald Trump in the US. The polls result proved all the media predictions and opinions irrelevant.
HEIDELBERG/GERMANY: Just a few hours later, German federal elections are going to take place on 24, September 2017. This grand contest will elect the members of the 19th Bundestag–Federal Lower House (parliament). Then it is the new Bundestag that will pick a Chancellor. The new Chancellor will have to garner an absolute majority of Bundestag members. And eventually a new government will be formed. The 2017 general elections are too crucial as Germany has been in the center of a storming refugees influx, where EU has been hit by new challenges and Germany’s current elections will shape the future course of this extra ordinary important nation in the EU, if not for quite longer, but yes for the coming few years. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), led by Angela Merkel, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by Martin Schulz, are the key contending parties vying for the Bundestag. While commenting on the elections, Britta Peterson, a senior fellow with Observer Research Fellow India, says: “Much has been said about the German elections, however, it looks really odd that how an incumbe person leads in opinion polls by a margin of 10 to 15 per cent ahead of her main contender.” “Chancellor Angela Merkel is all set to win her fourth term in office in the German parliamentary elections on Sunday, the upcoming four years will be all but boring — even if the majority of Germans might wish so,” she said.
Christian Democrats (CDU) is the leading party in Germany ruling for a decade. The centre-right group – made up of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) – they have employment, tax cuts and ongoing public investment at the forefront of their manifesto. Stand for the refugees, CDU is being criticised and appreciated by many at home and abroad. Welcoming the refugees, Germany received a lot respect amongst the comity of nations first time after the WWII. The strong stand of Merkel for the refugees shows how strong will she has as many call her an ‘iron lady’. Though it won her the title of an iron lady yet many conservatives disdain her for flooding not only Germany but the entire EU with refugees and at times Hungary threatened of “Hugxit”. Opening Germany’s doors for refugees was the right impulse but it was badly prepared, although the refugee crisis had been lingering on the doorsteps of the EU for years before Merkel opened the borders in 2016.
Social Democrats (SPD), the centre-left are shrugging to make another Grand Coalition to cling to the governance. A recently held opinion poll declared the party in a healthy position after it elected its new leader. However, it came across a new setback in regional polls. The SPD garners support from working class. Investing in education and infrastructure is the slogan that attracts its voters from working class. SPD believes in welcoming the refugees, social justice and wants to stay as an integral part of the EU. Some of the supporters of SPD campaigning in Heidelberg and believing that their leader Martin Schulz will be the next chancellor, have talked to the Pashtun Times.
There are other parties as well which are taking part in this neck and neck race for the Bundestag. These parties include: The Left (Die Linke), East German communists have their hold on this small party. This party can be called a pressure group. It’s slogan is maximum wages, dismantling of NATO and military missions beyond frontiers. Sahra Wagenknecht leads this party.
In a brief interview to the Pashtun Times, a local candidate of Die Linke in Heidelberg Sahra Mirow at Bismarckplatz touched upon party agenda.
My name is Sarah Mirow and I am running for the party Die Linke (the left party.
So, the left party is fighting for social equity and for peace politics, because we think it is not tolerable that in Germany nearly every 5th child is threatened by poverty. This is why we say we want to tax high incomes, and very affluent people, so billionaires and millionaires will be taxed more. That said, we want to establish a capital tax in shape of a millionaire’s tax. This would be 5% (on capital) starting from the second million. And from that alone, we could renovate hospitals and schools in Germany, and that, I think, is a good sign for social equity.
Yes, and for us, very important for us, Die Linke, is the issue of peace. We want to stop arms exports and want the Bundeswehr (German Army) not to engage in any war in this world.
Yes, and in addition to that, 16 years of anti-terror measures have shown that we now have more terror than ever. So that is why we are saying bombs do not create peace and why want peaceful German foreign policy.
So, what is our main goal in these elections? That is that we become the third largest party in parliament and we will keep on fighting for that. This is the reason why we are fighting for the second, but also the first votes of course (see German voting system). But, what is important for us is, no matter how this election turns out, that Germany needs a strong social policy making force, a force driving for more social equity, for more peace politics, for more just retirement conditions (pensions), for more just wages, but also for safeguards for children (avoid child poverty) and this is what Die Linke can and will do. This is the reason we are fighting to become the third largest force in parliament.
And, what I think this election’s turn-out will be, is that is always hard to determine, especially so shortly before the election, so in that sense, one will see, as has been said, the CDU, it can safely be said, will be in the first place, but yes, one does not know, one does not know how an election will turn out until it has actually been carried out. The polls’ numbers are generally known but, as has been said, the third largest party, die Linke, I think, that is a good objective.
And yes, how should Germany deal with refugees? And this is self-explanatory for us, die Linke: humans who flee from war and persecution need protection and we as a rich country Germany, have the duty to offer protection to refugees. For this reason, we, die Linke, rejected both asylum policy packages introduced by the government and we also reject the development of Europe being turned in a fortress, as well as us (Germany) investing billions into a private border protection company, but do not support at the same level organizations who help refugees in distress at sea. So, I say, we need legal ways for refugees to come to Europe, we need an immigration law, and we need good future perspectives, but also more social government investment, for example, in social housing and social security system to allow all people, and also refugees, of course, in Germany, a good and dignified life.
What my personal message to the voters is, is that my personal message would be, of course: do think very carefully about who you will cast your vote for tomorrow. This is of course what all parties say but we do need change in Germany for social politics in Germany, we need a peaceful foreign policy and we need politics that allows everyone to participate, regardless whether they suffer from physical disability, regardless of whether they have migrated, regardless whether woman or man, we need politics that represents all people, politics for all citizens and this is what Die Linke can, and this is what the Linke will do in the upcoming Bundestag (German parliament) and we are hoping for your vote! Many thanks!”}
Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD): This is a richte or a right wing party with a populist slogan. The party has been famous for holding extreme thoughts on immigrants and EU. Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland lead this party. While Die Linke remains a rather regional phenomenon in Eastern Germany, the rise of the AfD has sent shock waves through Germany that is still sensitive to everything. AFD is, anti-refugees and anti-Islamic party.
Local candidate of AFD Dr. Malte Kaufmann in Heidelberg told to the Pashtun Times in an exclusive interview that his party welcomes all those immigrants who want to integrate in German society. Criticising Merkel refugees policy he said that refugees are a security threat to his country and we have to protect our citizens. Dr. Malte further added that his party is against the European Union and they want to see states sovereign in the EU.
An independent commentator, Claudia Wädlich, told the Pashtun Times that in her view it has been a fight between the established political parties like CDU, SPD and FDP. She said AFD, the right wing party, a stronger anti-voice from the stronger political parties. Other small parties with new ideas have no chance to make inroads. Media focused only on the bigwheels. For new parties even a five percent challenges will make it harder for them to reach the parliament. Yet at the same time the big parties have lost the road how to address the hiking poverty in Germany. “We have 12 million poor people” she said. Most of them are children. The education system needs money. “Not enough kitas for kids. Given the situation on ground little parties have even no thinner chance to make an influence in the race, therefore, this is not really democratic”, she censured. Politicians want to save their positions and money. I don’t expect anything by this election. She said that AFD poses risks for foreigners and the EU.
Free Democratic Party (FDP): This party slogans for tax cuts and financial markets within the sphere of EU. This is led by Christian Lindner. The FDP had made coalition with Merkel as a junior party. Many young snd educated people especially students are working for the success of FDP.
The Green (Grüne): Green party, is led by Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Cem Özdemir. Urban citizens, environment, education, tax structure, and some other slogans make ingredients of its political campaign. The Greens, who disappointed with a rather conventional election campaign and will probably not win more than 8%, are deeply divided between their left and right wing and know very well that if they move too close to one of the sides, it could tear their party apart.
The defeat of right wing populist in France and victory of Donald Trump in the US, start telling its effects in German political preferences, as Germany is also prone to changes. The final authority rests in the hands of voters who they elect and in which direction they want to steer the nation and the country as usually the elected governments then shape their policies while keeping the views of its voters. Yet at the same time, the confidence of the voters looks very dim when it comes to the competence of the established political parties how the nature of international politics and shaping and what kinds of effects it leaves on Germany.
Many of the political analysts are of the opinion that in today’s elections Angela Merkel will make a comfortable win but there is a widely held notion that her rival candidate Martin Schulz will emerge a stronger man following the polls. SPD members are quite enthusiastic to see Martin as the next chancellor of Germany. But this will be decided by the German voters today. So far, the turn out looks unpredictable as many of the young Germans, we talked to, appeared half hearted to head to the polls as they came hard on the manifestos of the contending parties and their achievements. According to them nothing will improve in the aftermath of the polls rather the same policies will remain in place and joblessness will increase its fold.
By Aurang Zeb Khan & Roohul Amin, Germany