Archive for May 22nd, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Almost Unnoticed: Bremen’s Elections

Election poster, Bremen Bürgerschaft elections: you can say you to me

Election poster, Bremen Bürgerschaft elections: you can say you to me

This friendly gentleman’s (picture) name is Jan Timke. HE (Timke, not the LORD) fights for YOU (ER kämpft für EUCH, says the election poster. There are two forms of “you” in German, “Sie” (with “s” as a capital letter) when you speak to people you haven’t met before, or with whom you aren’t really close, and “du” (plural: ihr / euch) for family people, friends, etc..

But then, a good politician is just like a good friend, right? HE carries some strange stuff on his back. It’s no bag full of christmas gifts. Could be mittens.

Timke re-ran for “Citizens in Anger” (Bürger in Wut, BIW) today and had been a member of Bremen’s parliament, the Bürgerschaft-Landtag, since 2007. His party says that they are undogmatic and conservative in a value-based way (or concerned with traditional value).

I’m not sure how many people visited the angry citizens’ website to see for themselves, but quite a number of people were angry and voted for them. 3.5 per cent all over the federal state, and although the threshold to get into the Bürgerschaft would be 5 per cent, they will be represented in the Bürgerschaft-Landtag, according to the Andere Parteien website, as they got more than 5 per cent in the northern city of Bremerhaven. Radio Bremen reports that Timke will be the only member of parliament for his party. The Angry Citizen’s original goal had been six per cent all over Bremen, as stated in April this year.

The big news is that the Greens are ahead of chancellor Angela Merkel‘s Christian Democrats (CDU) now – in Bremen, that is:

Results by 20:04 CEST
Social Democrats (SPD) 38%
Christian Democrats (CDU) 20%
Greens 22.5%
“The Left” 6%
Free Democrats (FDP) 3%

Bremen Town Hall (housing the executive branch of government)

Bremen Town Hall (housing the executive branch of government)

Federal states’ elections affect national politics only marginally, and in Bremen, the CDU has traditionally played second fiddle to the social democrats anyway, but today’s showing may be food for thought for christian democrats in Berlin, too. The SPD and the Greens have been in a governing coalition since 2007, and are likely to continue their coalition, now with something like a sixty-percent majority in the Bürgerschaft. The SPD has been the main ruling party in Bremen for 65 years now, and it is said that as a Bremer, you are either born with the party’s  membership book, or you get one as a present on your first birthday.

“The Left” is somewhat disappointed (they had hoped for a two-digit result), and the FDP is not surprised (with less than five per cent, there will be no members of parliament from the FDP).

The “National Democrats” are said to have gotten some two per cent, according to projections cited by Andere Parteien.

If Bremerhaven should be angrier than Bremen itself (see para 4 of this post) is a somewhat complicated question. This week’s Economist offers some indirect explanations as to why Bremerhaveners may be angrier than Bremers, and some hints as to why they might become even angrier during the coming four years.

Voter turnout was at a historic low on Sunday, as only some 53 per cent of Bremen federal state’s eligible citizens actually casted their vote (also according to a projection). Turnout was 57.6 per cent in 2007.

A delegation from Afghanistan was in town during the weekend to watch the elections. If they encountered problems similar to Ghana’s Kofi Owusu‘s who observed elections in three German states in 2009, they haven’t yet been reported.

The preliminary official result isn’t expected before midnight. Given that every citizen had five votes to cast, the vote counters’ job has become no easier.

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