Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
In the “old days” of journalism, before the rise of the internet, an alert journalist might pick up on a politician’s gaffe in the middle of an election speech or somewhere on the campaign trail and publish or broadcast a story with the potential to change the dynamic of a race.
Nowadays, it could be instead the political opponent or citizen journalists armed with cell phone cameras or small hand-held cameras who can upset the applecart with a YouTube videos, blog or website report documenting a serious verbal blunder.
It’s a lesson that Juergen Ruettgers, the conservative state premier of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has now painfully learned.
Ruettgers apologised late on Friday for insulting both Romanian workers and Chinese investors at a campaign rally in the depressed working class city of Duisburg late last month (story here) as the row over his remarks escalated. Ruettgers, who has a track record of statements criticised as xenophobic, suggested at the rally in Ruhr River industrial city that the Romanian work ethic was inferior to Germany’s and he also made derogatory remarks about Chinese investors.
Under Adolf Hitler, the Nazis tried to extinguish the culture and language of the Sorbs.
This week, a member of Germany’s indigenous Slavic minority won a state election for the first time. Stanislaw Tillich’s victory puts him firmly in control of Saxony, the most populous eastern state – and looks likely to catapult the 50-year-old to the front ranks of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).
It was among the 81-billion euro basket of stimulus measures the government put together to soften the impact of the recession and was later copied in many other countries, including the United States.It started out as a 1.5-billion euro scheme but that had to be quickly topped up in the spring as a frenzy swept the country.
10 p.m. - So it’s a black eye for Merkel and her conservative party four weeks before the federal election with the likely loss of power in two of three states that went to the polls on Sunday. But will it make a difference for the federal election on Sept. 27? Will Steinmeier’s SPD, now in the driver’s seat to win state offices from the CDU for the first time since 2001, be able to take advantage of the momentum? Will the CDU start to get nervous again after squandering big leads in last month of the 2002 and 2005 federal elections? September could be an exciting month in Germany.
9:50 p.m. Bild newspaper’s Nikolaus Blome writes in a column for Monday’s early editions: “It was an earthquake kicking off the hot phase of the national campaign…The CDU has been spoiled by its past success but now has it in writing that the Sept. 27 election is far from decided.”
from The Great Debate UK:
Will the party that traces its roots to Communist East Germany's SED party that built the Berlin Wall soon be in power in a west German state?
Or is the rise of the far-left "Linke" (Left party) in western Germany to the brink of its first role as a coalition partner in a state government with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) simply a political fact-of-life now so many years after the Wall fell and the two Germanys were reunited?
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.
Between running an election campaign and trying to save European carmaker Opel at the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was baking a currant cake and writing out a shopping list for her husband.
Merkel has sought in recent months to soften her business-like image by opening up about her life at home, hoping to reach out to more voters ahead of the federal election on September 27.
One thing we’ve learnt from the crisis is that if something sounds funny it probably is. All that talk about slicing and dicing subprime debt to turn it into triple-A securities was hard to understand at the time and now we know it was just the 21st century equivalent of alchemy.
The current debate about the responsibility that surplus countries like China, Germany and Japan share for the crisis has a similar ring.
Barack Obama might have unrivalled expertise about the U.S. electorate. But the American president showed he’s something of a fish out of water when it comes to the complex world of German politics — where the seeming winners sometimes end up losing and the losers can end up in power with the right alliance.
Obama recently told Germany’s conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop worrying about the Sept. 27 election: “Ah, you’ve already won. I don’t know what you always worry about,” Obama told her in comments captured by a German TV camera at the White House as the two were on their way to a joint news conference.
I had the chance to pose that question to a charismatic young German political leader who is sometimes likened by his supporters to the American President.
Greens party co-chairman Cem Oezdemir, the son of Turkish immigrants, became the first person from an ethnic minority elected to lead a major German party last year — a slogan at the time was “Yes, we Cem“. What might sound rather unspectacular in many industrial countries was actually an epic change in Germany, which until only a decade ago was loath to even acknowledge it was a country of “immigrants” (preferring to call its 7 million foreigners “guest workers”).