Friday, September 23, 2005

Understanding The German Elections Part 4

Get a sociology and history lesson about modern Germany by reading A Tale of Two Germanys from The Brussels Journal.
Decades of socialization in both west and east programmed much of the German public to immediately turn to government for solutions to their problems. At the same time German voters feel distant and unable to influence their government. Sunday’s poll saw the second lowest turnout in post-war German history and by far its most disturbing result.

In Germany, parties rule and much of the public distrusts them. Voting is more often motivated by a desire to prevent a particular party from dominating than to support a particular platform. This “voting in the negative” only adds to existing public cynicism exacerbating the already significant divide in western and eastern public opinion. Accountability to one's party is the first law of survival for a German politician. Parties lay down the rules and decide who gets the privilege of leading. The layers of decision makers and interests, extend the distance between constituents and their living breathing representatives. Few Constuents have ever contacted their representitives(sic) office, much less know who they are. The party is the real representative, a colourful logo with a catchy slogan. These faceless institutions are entrusted with the duty to serve the people.
Read the rest to find out how distrust, lack of identity and fear have worked together to produce the outcome of the most recent election.