SAIS Next Europe

« Previous Post | Next Post »

Republicans Need Direction? Check Out Germany

By Nikolas Foster

It's been a tough four years for Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD), so much so that comparisons with the U.S. Republican party's woes aren't too far off base. Chancellor Schroeder made an unpopular move to Gazprom just weeks after leaving office; party vice president Kurt Beck stepped down over supporting coalitions with the Left party (Die Linke). Now comes "Limogate": health minister Ulla Schmidt allegedly took her chauffeured limousine on vacation to Spain, where it was stolen. Now the SPD must explain why Schmidt needed the 100,000-Euro vehicle on her vacation, when it should be campaigning for the upcoming September 27th general elections. This won't be easy, since the trip only included two official events: speaking with German retirees and meeting the mayor of the village in which she stayed.

But scandals aren't the only thing keeping the SPD, or the Republican party, from moving forward. At the heart of their internal debates are identity crises and leadership voids. In the U.S., Republicans are still debating whether November 4th, 2008 came because of being too conservative or not being conservative enough; they aren't yet sure which direction to move to try to take back Congress. And they'll have to wait at least through the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Virginia for their next clear sign. A win by the conservative candidate Robert F. McDonnell could indicate a turn towards the right. A loss could bring a shift towards a more moderate policy similar to that of former Utah Governor and current U.S. ambassador to China John Huntsman.

In any case, the GOP might want to take a close look at the SPD's decade-long recalibration. In Germany, former Chancellor Schroeder's employment reform has moved the SPD, Germany's traditional worker party, considerably to the center. But centrist policies like pushing through labor reforms that shortened unemployment benefits or sending Germany's army into its first out-of-area combat missions have turned out to be counterproductive. The SPD's former base has defected to Die Linke or the Green Party, and many have stopped voting all together. Caught between an increasingly social Christian Democrats (CDU) moving towards the middle and Die Linke's rise on the left, the SPD's outlook for the elections is bleak.

Just as the SPD's move towards the center has left its base in disarray, a move by the GOP towards the middle could leave the religious right, the social conservatives and fringe groups like the Birthers politically homeless. Both parties look with anticipation to the upcoming elections, hoping no new scandals will emerge. But until the results are in, the time for political soul-searching continues - in Berlin as much as in Washington, DC.


Nikolas Foster is a graduate student in Energy and Environmental Policy and International Economics at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC.

Email the Author | Email This Post | Del.icio.us | Digg | Facebook

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Johns Hopkins University.

Comments (2)

jps-mm Author Profile Page:

Bürgerrechtsverletzungen schwerster Art in Deutschland - Merkel persönlich verantwortlich

The Merkle is seriously abusing the trust that the voters put in her four years ago in 2005. Moreover, the Merkle - in office for four years - supports the perpetrators in order to ensure that these criminals can continue to violate human rights. It's even worse: The human right situation has drastically deteriorated since the Merkle came into power.

The UN-commission in charge of the protection of human rights caracterized the Merkle's report about the human right situation in Germany as "insufficient". In an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, however, German journalists don't dare to broach the difficult human right situation in Germany and to mention the perpetrators of most severe human right violations. It is not astonishing that the Merkle who is personally responsible for the drastic degradation of the human right situation in Germany is not criticized at all for the further deterioration.

Now, the OECD has decided to observe the elections in Germany for the first time. The task of the OECD is to ensure democratic elections whenever there exist serious doubts whether a particular country complies with fundamental legal standards. The OECD will not only focus on the prohibition of some small parties. "This will be only one of various aspects."

The Merkle is personally involved in most severe human right violations. It's time to demand the Merkle to stop human right violations immediately.

homeland1 Author Profile Page:

Mr. PRESIDENT, Ms. POLOSI & CO.:

"Ho Ho OBAMA & YOU Must Surely GO!"

"HO HO, OBAMA & CO. must Surely GO!"

"YO YO, OBAMA Gots To GO!"

-Prof. GATES, not Bill Gates, Not Asst. Sec. State Gates.., Must GO To Jail asap For almost (Conspiring) insighting a National & Possibly International (RACE BASED) RIOT!? The TERRORISTS & CO., are LOVE-N THIS!

......___________________......
...........||.......||........||.......||
...........||.......||.., , ,.||.......||
...........||......(||../|/(\.||/......||
...........||.......||.._'_ .,||......||
...........||.......||..o o..||.......||
...........||......(||...m...||)......||
...........||.......||...=....||.......||
...........||.......||.\___/||.......||
...........||.___||..).,.(..||___.||
......... /||..--...||.-\_/-.||..---,.||\
........./.||.--,_,||____.||.._--||..\
..........(||)RACE-GATES(.||)
............|"""""""""""""""""""""|......
...|ACTS AGAINST AMERICANS|...

Mr. OBAMA. Please, like an EX-Friend, Distance yourself from Mr. "Racist-GATES", not P.O. Crowley, like ye didth with REVrend/Brother Mr. Wrong, ooopps Meant your Ex-Friend Rev. Jeramiah (Bul{Frog) Mr. Wright!

--Or Else: "DOWN with OBAMA & CO., comes 2012/13 and beyond!"

"Ho Ho OBAMA & CO. Must Surely GO!"

"HO HO, OBAMA & CO. must Surely GO!"

"YO YO, OBAMA Gots To GO!"

PS: Its a good "PROBABILITY" that Prof.? Gates Wanted To Get Busted. All he had to do was smile, look into P.O. Crowleys eyes and ask, "Why are you Here Sir/Mams"? And simply sing, "Yazza Mon or No-Mon to questions! And Hope He/Cops go away w/good REASON&CAUSE&SATISFACTION! Nothing Complicated!

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.