Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Center Shifts Left

As regular readers know, JLH has been keeping an eye on recent Austrian developments for us. Now he turns his gaze on Germany, and includes these observations to accompany his translations:

I was already looking at the first article below when I came across the Austrian story about the Turkish knifing incident. After my first reading, I found a few more articles and the whole thing started to form a pattern for me. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I will let you judge. I think the pattern has ominous implications for political and social development in Germany in the near future.

First, the leftmost of the two major parties slides so much farther left that it leaves its traditional clientele behind. Then the more “conservative” of the two major parties sees the possibility of moving into the vacuum and absorbing the old social-democratic voters, assuming its own conservative supporters will have nowhere else to go. Both “conservative” and “Christian” will cease to be descriptive of this party. The center of gravity will be Left.

Next, the rightist violence that officials and the elites are concerned about is decreasing, but leftist pro-Islamic and “anti-fascist” violence is increasing.

Then, one of the recent victims of a potentially fatal arson attempt is a Berlin CDU member who opposes Islamization.

Finally, this victim of an arson attempt is undercut by members of the Berlin house of representatives, including of his own party, when he attempts to set up a public forum to discuss obstacles to integration in Islam. To make his point, he threatens to resign from the party, but the forum is toast.

Since “conservative” in Europe is a pale imitation of what the name means in the USA, can you guess where the Germany of Adenauer and Kohl is heading now? Movements like Pro-Köln will be under more pressure than ever. They and similar groups may also be the best hope for counterbalance.

The first article is from Die Welt:

The Berlin Declaration

In the CDU, “Conservative” Is Almost An Insult

by Thomas Schmid

January 14, 2010

The CDU is trying to develop a modern profile. It is reconstituting itself in a present which its traditional voters will find inhospitable. That may be smart, but there is a danger that the “C” in the name could be little more than a memory.

Angela Merkel is the first woman to head a German government. On October 28th, she was elected chancellor for the second time since 2005.

The Christian-Democratic Union intends to continue opening up. That is the true message of the “Berlin Declaration” presented to the party on Thursday. In this, Angela Merkel’s party is not so different from the CDU in Helmut Kohl’s time.

Kohl was also at pains to give his party a modern profile, for instance, through social-political initiatives, through institutionalizing environmental policy, through political responses to feminism — but also with chorus girls at a CDU convention.

At the time, that caused no scandal. True, there was indignation here and there — but the patriarch, Helmut Kohl, his leadership, and most of the people who surrounded him assured the party of a sufficiently convincing aura of conservatism. The spirit of Konrad Adenauer had not yet disappeared. The protective 1950s were still with them.

Because that is gone, because the situation has made “conservative” almost an insult in the CDU, and the previous worldly grounding is missing, the party is less sure of itself than it once was. Kohl could feel sure of the support of a base of conservative values.

That kind of security no longer exists for Angela Merkel. The Berlin Declaration is correct in its claim that no party of today can be sure of its voters. That is the impetus for the CDU to row for new shores and neglect its traditional adherents.
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There are good reasons for it. Perhaps, for instance, the leftward shift of the SPD suggests that the CDU think about (the SPD’s) old social-democratic clientele. Above all, however, the party seems fiercely determined to find its footing along all the front lines of modernization and changes in values.

Its setting is a present which may seem inhospitable to traditional CDU voters. That may be smart, but the danger exists that the core of the party will blur and become unrecognizable. The “C” in the name could become little more than a memory.

This brief article is also from Die Welt:

(BKA) Federal Police) Statistics

Less Right Extremist Violence

January 5, 2010

For the first time in six years, the incidence of right extremist violence has decreased. In the first eleven months of 2009, the BKA recorded a drop of 8.5% versus that time frame in the previous year.

And compare it with this one:

Politically motivated criminality

More Left Extremist Violence in Berlin

December 28, 2009

The number of left extremist crimes committed in Berlin increased sharply this year. Police commissioner Dieter Glietsch said that there 680 incidents in 2008 and the number doubled in 2009. The German Police Union, whose headquarters suffered a gas canister attack without serious consequences, sees terrorists at work, and is demanding that the federal government take over the investigation.

From Berliner Morgenpost:

René Stadtkewitz: “I Will Not Give Up”

by Karsten Hintzmann June 10, 2008

Pankow CDU politician, René Stadtkewitz will not resign his positions after the arson attempt on his house and the threatening letters that preceded it. At a quickly called press conference yesterday, the legislative representative said that he intended to remain engaged in the politics of the city in the future. “I will not give up. I am still a member of the Berlin house of representatives, I am still chair of CDU Pankow and I will continue my election campaign.”

Unknown perpetrators threw flammable material into a cellar window of Stadtkewitz’s house last week. It was only because Stadtkewitz and his wife were unable to sleep that night that the family came to no harm. The CDU politician was able to get his family to safety and call the fire department.

The attack appears to be connected to the planned construction of a mosque in Pankow-Heinersdorf which Stadtkewitz has criticized frequently in the past months.

Finally, from Tageszeitung:

CDU Losing Rightwing Populist

by Gereon Asmuth November 2, 2009

In a surprising move, Islam critic René Stadtkewitz has left the CDU…

What precipitated his leaving the party was the discussion: “Islam — an Obstacle to Integration?” which was being hosted by the local CDU in the chambers of the Berlin legislature. As provincial head of the BPE (Pax Europa Citizen’s Movement — an anti-Islamization organization), Stadtkewitz was scheduled to go to the podium. The commissioner for integration of the senate, Günther Piening, immediately called BPE “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The presentation was also controversial within the CDU. Barbara John, previously Berlin’s commissioner for aliens, demanded that the local CDU clarify that there was very little room for the BPE in the legislature. After that, prospective participants no longer wanted to speak, so Stadtkewitz cancelled the forum. In his letter of resignation, Stadtkewitz complained that party chief Frank Henkel had not made clear “that the failed commissioner does not speak for the CDU.”

Stadtkewitz could not be reached for a statement on Sunday. Speaker for the CDU, Michael Thiedemann said that Henkel would not have a statement until Monday. Efforts were apparently being made behind the scenes to convince Stadtkewitz to back away from his resignation. CDU spokesman for integration policy, Kurt Wansner, who had been supposed to moderate the discussion, said: “I can only hope that he stays.” He knew Stadtkewitz as a “competent colleague.”


In Hoc Signo Vinces† said...

Political commentators should take note of the shift - sometimes subtle but important in the european poitical spectrum. There is in the U.K. a degree of polarisation within the general population, a raw and unattributed politics that has no party political label, while the political elite kiss their stalin posters and their spoilt brats cling to palestinian flags, mainstreet is waiting for a Churchill clone.

Anonymous said...

The point is that people engaged in a political career for all their life are too much exposed to the socialist/statalist thinking, left or right alike. You could have right-socialists (fascists or nazis) or leftist socialists (Labour, communists, socialists), and Center Socialists (European Popular Party, Christians Democrats, etc.).

They tend to look for appeasements, bipartisan solutions, handout to disadvantaged groups, etc. because this is what they did all their life.

We, in Italy, have Gianfraco Fini, now President of the Camera dei Deputati (Lower Chamber) that come from a post-fascist MSI, the reformed it in Alleanza Nazionale, the fused it inside Popolo delle Libertà of Berlusconi (Pierferdinando Casini - leader UDC was left out of the coalition with a little party and no more power - so Fini decision was, like we say in Italy "Eat this soup or jump from that window").

Now, Fini, the ex-leader of party with solid fascist root, is pushing for a law for the citizenship in five years and other stuff. So it is, currently, more popular in the Center-Left than in the Center-Right.

The only really anti-islam, anti-immigration (but absolutely not racist) party left is the Lega Nord of Umberto Bossi.

It is of interest the candidancy of Magdi Cristiano Allam (the muslims journalist baptized by Pope Benedict XVI) to the presidency of a Region for the Center-right Popolo delle Libertà (probably with the support of Berlusconi).
This will have deep effects and cause some reaction somewhere.
An open apostate of Islam becoming the President of a Region of Italy. Like a state in the US electing Ayan Hirsi Ali as Governor.