Monday, February 21, 2005

Catastrophic Result in German Elections in Schleswig-Holstein

IN what can only be described as a catastrophic result for Germany and the people of Schleswig-Holstein in the German state election in Schleswig-Holstein

see Kieler Nachrichten: 745 Stimmen fehlen für schwarz-gelbe Mehrheit

the coalition of the CDU and FDP lacked just 745 votes to independently unseat the more than incompetent Red-Green coalition under Heide Simonis. Under ten years of the incapable Simonis and seventeen years of Red-Green leadership, the economy of Schleswig-Holstein is in a shambles. Unemployment has reach record levels with the official count on February 4, 2005 of 178,409 (12.7%), and the real count closer to 17%. Unemployment is rising rapidly at a time when the rest of world is experiencing an economic recovery. Rather than running the government and the economy properly, Simonis has even found time to write a book and pose as an author. Incredible what today is allowed to pose as a government leader.

The catastrophe is made worse by the fact that the coalition of the Reds (SPD) and the Green Party actually - and deservedly - lost the election, since they won one seat LESS than the CDU-FDP coalition, giving the CDU-FDP 34 seats and the Red-Green coalition 33 seats.

However, Schleswig-Holstein has a unique situation which permits the minority party of the "border Danes", the SSW (South-Schleswig Voters' Association), to obtain seats in the state parliament, even if they do not surmount the normal 5% hurdle that other parties must pass in order to send delegates there.

As noted by Simon Tisdall in his astutely written article in the Guardian, the SSW was "created by the British military authorities in 1948 to represent ethnic Danes after Schleswig was divided between Germany and Denmark after plebiscites in 1920.

The SSW, dedicated to maintaining "the peculiarity of Danish life", is hardly a major political force. Speaking for the 50,000 Danes and 40,000 Friesians among the state of 2.8 million people, it currently holds three seats in Kiel's Landtag (parliament).
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Through the election just held, the SSW now obtains 2 seats by virtue of receiving 3.6% of the vote (which would ordinarily not suffice for a normal party to send delegates to parliament). What is particularly disturbing is that the other parties (mostly right-wing) in this election obtained 4.7% of the vote - MORE votes than the SSW - but are disenfranchised, since they did not reach the 5% level. The situation thus no longer has anything to do with what a normal person would call "democracy".

The SSW is thus the kingmaker in Schleswig-Holstein in an election result which in part determines the fortunes of the Schroeder administration, a result to be determined by 50,000 Danes on the wrong side of the border. Worse, the SSW traditionally holds to the left-wing parties, so that they may swing their two votes to the losing incumbents, thus negating the actual German vote, which would ordinarily demand a change of government.

The vote is also catastrophic for the SSW. If they cast their votes to the losers of the election, the "Danes" have changed the political scene in Germany. This will only feed the growing right-wing sentiment in Germany and in Schleswig-Holstein and clearly and ultimately lead to the loss by the SSW of their special privileges, once the left-wingers are out of office. On the other hand, if the SSW respects the choice made by the German voters, they should join the CDU-FDP coaltion, which however would go contrary to their historical allegiance and contrary to their own voters. In our opinion, the only way that the SSW could possibly save itself from ultimate demise is to abstain from joining any coalition and letting the Germans decide the matter for themselves, while of course exacting the fulfillment of some political demands for remaining neutral.

For the people in Schleswig-Holstein, another period of rule under Simonis would be the end of social peace and the beginning of the rise of the extreme right wing in the north.
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