Too close to call: Three things you need to know on the finish line of Germanys election campaign
On sunday Germany will elect a new government - the first one without Angela Merkel after 16 years
What emoji would suit best to sum up the last months of Wahlkampf* in germany? The simple but disturbing answer: Every emotional emoji you like!
You can chose a yellow face with the expresssion of excitment but you can although stick to a very boring emoji like Guardian or New York Times did in describing a “charisma vacuum” in the campaign. But the best reason to choose a symbol of excitment is this: It is nearly impossible to predict a possible outcome.
For me there are at least three take aways that we should keep in mind after the election campaign. Here they are - helping you to shorten the time till sunday 6 pm when the polling stations will close and the media will publish the first projections:
Minimal possible change
The rise of the Kinderreporter
The generation gap
Minimal possible change (MPC)
If you are interested in the ideas of design thinking you probably know the acronym MVP. It describes the minimal viable product: this is the smallest iteration of a new product. The current election campaign is a test for the smallest possible iteration of change. If you like acronyms you can describe the election as a test for the
minimal possible change in germany. In three TV-debates (called Triell) the three candidates for the successor to Angela Merkel showed their enthusiasm for change in descending order: Annalena Baerbock runs for the German Greens and repeated that her offer is to make a difference to the current government. She used the phrase that the next government will be the last that is activley able to work against the climate crisis. Her offer is: Stop the so called Grosse Koalition* (big coalition) of Social Democrats and Christian Democrats (Merkels Party). The second best offer for change is namend Olaf Scholz. He is working as vice chancellor and finance minister in the Grosse Koalition run by Angela Merkel - and acted in his election campaign as the somehow natural successor of Angela Merkel - which is funny because Armin Laschet tried to do the same. He in fact is a successor of Angela Merkel - as party leader of the Christian Democrats and stands for what Baerbock called “Weiter so” (keep it up)
Olaf Scholz leads in the surveys on the personal preference of the candidates. But the german electoral system does not provide for direct election of the chancellor. He or she will be elected by the majority of the german Bundestag.
As I write these lines, the polls are so tight that it is not clear which party will make up the largest group in the new parliament. It seems certain that the party of the third candidate, Armin Laschet, will have to accept considerable losses. Despite that it is still possible that the Christian Democrats will lead an new coalition. For the first time in the history of German bundestag is seems to be possible that the new government will be composed of three partys (Until today the two-party-coalition was usual). So the best thing to predict is this: We will see exciting coalition negotiations.
In autumn 2019 the New York Times wrote a Saturday profile form Aachen, Germany. Aachen is not only the hometown of Armin Laschet, it is a small town near the Belgian border that Rezo calls home too. Rezo is the face of a big generation gap in germany. He is a very famous YouTuber and from time to time he is a political journalist too. In autumn 2019 he published a famous clip called “Die Zerstörung der CDU”. The New York Times wrote about the clip and about Rezo: “he burst into the German mainstream with a 55-minute carefully written YouTube polemic telling his followers not to vote for Merkel’s conservative party in the elections for the European Parliament.”
During the current election campaign Rezo published three new clips - with a similar message. This one is the first and shows on the first screen a big question: “CDU Why?”.
This newsletter is called Digital Viral Germany and Rezos videos are very good examples for the memetic content that is shared in Germany - and only in Germany. Rezo became the voice of a younger generation that started sending handwritten letters to their grandparents to convince them not to vote for the conservatives in this election. The idea is called Enkelkinderbriefe.de* and leads us to the third take away:
The rise of the Kinderreporter
It is not the most important part of the german election campaing but probably the most funny one: For some reason we saw the rise of very young reporters (Kinderreporter*) confronting candidates with somehow funny or exposing questions.
It started with Kinderreporter Alexander who went viral with a short part of this interview with Tino Chrupalla who is leading the campaign of the far-right AfD (Alternative für Deutschland). Chrupalla told the 13-year-Old that he would like pupils in german schools to learn more german poems. Alexander replied that in his opion he has more than enough poems to learn - and ask the poem-populist what poem he personally likes most. There was an embarassing pause - and in the end Chrupalla admitted that he couldn’t think of a poem in the moment.
Missing answers in a different way where the main part of a different Kinderreporter-Clip. The german latenight-show “Late Night Berlin” asked the three candidates to meet with puplis in a Kindergarten-Setting. The politicans had to sit on really small chairs and watch children asking them confronting questions (Why are you smoking? Did you lie? Did you copy for your book?) The basic idea of this clips is the “Late Night Berlin”-Regular called “Kinder fragen Rapper (kids ask rappers)” where you can watch children question classic rap-slang.
What to watch?
What to read?
Wahlkampf - election campaign
Grosse Koalition - big coalition formed by the biggest partys in Germany CDU and SPD
Enkelbriefe - letters from grandchildren
Kinderreporter - Child-Reporter
The next episode of DVG will be published after the election - Stay tuned!