Greetings. My name is Nicholas, and I’m The Contrarian Media‘s Teutonic Correspondent. For you Americans not hip to transcontinental lingo, this means I live in Germany.
With five major parties, German national elections are an entirely different affair than those of North America. Political groups campaign for the most support possible and then meld themselves through coalitions with some of their nearest political allies — all in an attempt to craft a stable (and hopefully cohesive) national government. Frequently tenuous, this year’s Bundestagswahl (national election) is certainly no exception.
Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s party, the Christian Democrat Union (CDU), is under fire nationwide, and facing a possible rift with its coalition mates, the Free Liberal Party (FDP) and Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) over economic policy disagreements. This unrest has opened the door for Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the Social Democrat Party (SPD). Steinmeier, although not specifically an advocate for change, is criticizing what he perceives as Chancellor Merkel’s complacency and lack of action on economic and employment fronts.
All of this comes to a head with next Sunday’s (27.9.09) national election. As a point of preparation, the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (National Office for Political Development/Affairs) has created a machine to help voters make their choices. The Wahl-o-mat, as it’s known, provides a measurement of the range of the user’s political ideology, which it subsequently compares to the platforms of the five major parties in contention. Nifty, huh?
The Wahl-o-mat’s designers have been careful not to explicitly suggest how to vote, but instead measures an individual’s political orientation and allows the voter to apply the results as they see fit. Will this type of system be helpful in steering voters more towards issues-based voting, with less focus on image and delivery? Time will tell, but in the meantime, I am glad that my German tax euros are supporting a program that the promotes an informed electorate. Just like America! OK, maybe not so much. . .