"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad
The big news in Deutschland is that tomorrow is Election Day. It has been really interesting to follow election season here as outsiders. All things considered, we've learned quite a bit about the parties, the issues, and the ways in which Germans think about politics; but we still feel like complete interlopers when we discuss issues with the natives.
Here is a helpful link for those who would like to know a little more about Election 2009 and election politics in Germany. Der Spiegel is sort of the German version of Time Magazine, and this is their "German Politics for Dummies" site.
Here's a top 5 list of the most amusing, confusing, or disconcerting things we have observed about German elections:
1. There's a party called "the Pirates." And they're seriously on the ballot.
2. You always have plenty of choices. You even get to vote twice, and not necessarily for the same party. For your first choice you have 5 parties to choose from. For your second choice you have about a dozen. Coming from the US, where in an election one is obliged to choose between only two shades of bad, the diversity here is refreshing.
3. The Marxist-Leninist Pary is still around, which is kind of cute.
4. APPD is reason enough to love German elections. This group is the Anarchist Pogo Party of Germany, and they are actually quite active on the campaign circuit. They claim to represent the "social parasites" of Germany. Evidently, this party was created in 1981 by two punks in Hannover; they took part in the 1998 election to the Bundestag with the promise to pay the voters with free beer. We find that they are full of creative ideas. For instance, they believe in the right to unemployment, with full salary and benefits; they believe that retirement pensions should be transformed into youth pensions; and they support the creation of zones where people who want to work can work, and in turn finance the leisure of those who don't ever want to work.
*Pogo, if you were wondering, is a dance, where you jump up and down.
5. CDU (or Christian Democratic Union) is Germany's most powerful party today and purports to uphold "Christian values." In the 2009 election this has translated into support for tax cuts, delays on the phasing out of nuclear power plants, and opposition to Turkey joining the EU. I'm sure Jesus would be...ummmmm...confused.
We will be sure to update you all on the results of the election. Now that we finally have a T.V., we are looking forward to quite the election party on Sunday night!
Here is an APPD sign. And here is Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU).