Link: Elections in Germany, Liberal Progress

Primary version of this post, with visual content, at Barry Stocker’s Weblog .

‘Germany’s Shift to the Right’, Dennis Nottebaum. 28th September, 2009 in OpenDemocracy.

An article in the left leaning democracy and human rights website OpenDemocracy. Nottebaum points to the surge for the FDP (Free Democratic Party), a liberal party which emphasises free markets, a limited state, and civil rights, led by the first open gay to lead a major German party, Guido Westervelle. The FDP came third in German elections, which is evidently a limited kind of success, but it’s the biggest third party vote ever in the Federal Republic, the biggest FDP vote ever, and marks a big shift in power.

I don’t entirely endorse the notion of a shift to the right. It could also be descried as a shift away from social conservatism to social liberalism, and from monumental dominant parties to a more varied political scene in Germany freed from political machines linked with the churches, trade unions, and businesses seeking corporate welfare. The main parties, SPD (social democrats) and CDU-CSU (Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union), fell back from what was already a historically low share of the vote.

The Greens and the Left increased their proportion of the left inclined vote, and the Greens were co-lead by a German of Turkish origin, Cem Özemir.

The FDP matched the SPD in the youth vote.

The FDP ran on a platform of reducing regulation and taxation, showing that the current economic down turn is not leading to an automatic inexorable move to more regulation of the financial sector. And quite rightly so, it’s a big myth that the decline in value of financial assets was due to deregulation, seeing as the deregulation is a myth.

The existence of the FDP, and its success, shows that civil liberties, human rights, and social pluralism, are not the sole possession of the left; it shows that free market policies go with social tolerance and limitations of the security state.

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