Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
The German election campaign has so far lacked the riveting debates and explosive issues to which voters were treated in previous battles for power, perhaps because Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rival, Vice-Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have worked together in the same “grand coalition” government for the past four years and neither party seems especially eager to rock the boat.
Filling the void have been several somewhat bizarre little scandals that each side has tried to use to tarnish the other, taking pot shots without resorting to full firepower. They are, after all, partners in power.
First there was Ulla Schmidt, the Social Democratic health minister whose questionable use of her official car on holiday in Spain came to light only after the car was stolen. Merkel’s Christian Democrats and opposition parties have done all they can to turn the “Dienstwagenaffaere” into a campaign issue — an example of a minister out of touch with voters for taking full advantage of government privileges — even though Schmidt insists she has done nothing wrong.
Now Merkel, the CDU chancellor, is facing criticism from the SPD and opposition parties for throwing a controversial dinner party at the chancellery (at the taxpayers’ expense) last year for Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann to mark his 60th birthday. “She told me at the time she would like to do something for me,” Ackermann told German TV in a profile of Merkel last week. “She said I should invite 30 or friends I’d like to spend an evening with to the chancellery.”
The U.S. Democratic Party has gained a larger following over the past two decades but America's ideological landscape has remained largely unchanged over the past two decades, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. You can see the analysis here.
What is of interest for readers of this blog may be the implications of this "cultural trench warfare" -- with neither side gaining much ground from the other -- for red-hot social issues such as abortion rights and the future prospects for both the Republicans and the Democrats.