Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘election

More on the German election

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We are now more than two months past the election—and I have some serious doubts whether I was wise in endorsing Merkel’s victory.

For starters, the victory part can in it self be disputed. As I did warn, the failure of FDP left the Bundestag with a more-or-less hostile majority. Differences between various Left-leaning parties has still left Merkel and CDU/CSU as the main force; however, they need an alliance with the Social-Democrats (SPD), negotiations have taken forever, and the price to pay has been very heavy indeed: The Social-Democrats have a disproportionate number of cabinet seats allotted to them and they have pushed through a number of issues that are are worrying. The most notable example is an unduly high minimum wage at 8.50 Euro/hour, which could severely worsen the market for the barely employable. A far worse suggestion was under discussion, but appears to be off the table for the moment: The introduction of quotas for female board members, with a minimum of 30 or even 40 % being women—outdated, sexist, and unjust. (As usual there was no talk of a minimum quota for each respective sex—just one for women.)

CDU/CSU themselves were less than exemplary during the campaigning, making hefty promises. These promises are now combined with those of the SPD and the resulting joint proposals are quite expensive—but little has been said about the financing. As is, there will sooner or later (probably sooner…) be a hole that needs to be stopped. Based on my impressions from the negotiations, the stopping will likely eventually be done through tax increases.

Furthermore, there have been a number of areas in recent times where CDU/CSU have acted unfortunately or potentially dangerously. Most of these point to the important role the failing FDP could have played to keep a liberal rain on Merkel (not to mention keeping SPD away from power and thereby avoiding the above problems). Examples include:

  1. A far to complacent reaction to scandals around surveillance of citizens and politicians (not limited to the NSA).

  2. There are suggestions to reinstate the Telecommunications data retentionw, which on a previous attempt was struck down by the Federal Constitutional Court—the more absurd in light of the recent surveillance controversies.

  3. A wish to make customers of prostitutes criminally liable when they visit prostitutes who work on a non-voluntary basis. Superficially, this may seem like a move to counter-act “trading”; practically, it is an entry point for a renewed ban on prostitution and puts the customers in a very unfortunate position. (I will expand on this in the following post.)

Simultaneously, although likely not tied to CDU/CSU, there are renewed attempts to ban NPD, a minor party considered neo-nazi and “hostile to the constitution” (“verfassungsfeindlich”—a legal German term allowing the banning of organizations). This may not seem bad on paper; however, it violates the principles of democracy in the name of democracy, highlights the limits of freedom of speech and expression in Germany, and shows a great hypocrisy: The East-German Communist party has a descendant in “Die Linke”, which is actually represented in parliament. (The originally party, SED, was restructured and renamed to PDS after the fall of East-Germany. PDS was represented in parliament until just a few years ago, when they merged with another Left-extremist/-populist grouping to form “Die Linke”, which is still represented. There is even some remaining overlap with SED in terms of the actual people involved—admittedly minor by now, but then more than twenty years have passed.) In contrast, NPD has no direct ties to NSDAP (“the Nazi party”), but are accused of having similar opinions. The one is the continuation of a criminal organization and thrives in parliament—the other has similar opinions to a criminal organization and risks being banned.

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Written by michaeleriksson

December 4, 2013 at 5:27 am

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More on the aftermath of the Swedish election

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As was easy to predict, the politically correct in Sweden have been outraged over Sverigedemokraterna’s (SD) gaining a representation, including many bloggers making “I am ashamed […]” statements similar to those heard from the US after the re-election of Bush. (Annoyingly, these statements often come from the more hypocritical, unreasoned or uninformed, and intellectually dishonest bloggers—the kettles calling the pot black.)

There have been four particularly egregious cases, however:

  1. Someone has broken into a database kept by the SD containing data on people who have requested information on the party—and published this list on the Internet as a list of supporters of SD.

    Not only is this a gross violation of the rights of the involved individuals and SD, but also, in very many cases, direct libel: To request information does not imply support. Indeed, when I was politically active in my youth, I read more material from the political opponents (including the communist party) than I did from “my own”. (This for two reasons: Firstly, it is a good idea to know the enemy. Secondly, it pays to know other perspectives—in particular, before presuming to criticize those perspectives. Sadly, the latter reason is something that appears lost on most politically active, who attack perspectives and opinions that they mostly know in a distorted version told by their own party.) Unsurprisingly, this list contains many entries that have nothing to do with support, including people wanting to learn SD’s perspective, find out how to fairly criticize them, or similar—and a fair number of fake entries of a joking or insulting character (presumably, the data was originally gathered through a form on the Internet).

    The message (be it intended or not): Have anything to do with SD and you will be publicly denounced. Similarly, I have, myself, repeatedly been called an SD supporter/voter, a xenophobe, or similar—just because I stand up for SD’s right to a fair debate.

  2. There is currently a discussion among the established parties to change the procedure for creating (common and influential) parliamentary committees in order to exclude SD from them—while allowing the other parties to be represented. This may be within the realms of what they can legally do, but it is certainly contrary to democratic principles.

  3. News sources have seen it fit to complain that SD (as a result of local elections in parallel to the parliamentary) will be able to supply more lay-judgesw. Apparently, SD’s stance on immigration issues will increase the danger that biased judgements are made—while the same risk is not present when e.g. communists are involved.

    (As pointed out by others, the real problem is not SD, but the highly disputable system of politically appointed lay-judges [1]e, [2]e.)

  4. A large-scale Facebook campaign is under way, where users post the explicit message that anyone who voted for SD has to “unfriend” them. Apart from being a disproportionate reaction based on a lack of thought of what can have moved someone to vote for SD, this is also a violation of the spirit behind the secret ballot.

Some related earlier discussions:

The results of the Swedish election

The Swedish election, equality, and Sverigedemokraterna

Unfair treatment of Sverigedemokraterna

Written by michaeleriksson

September 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

The Swedish election, equality, and Sverigedemokraterna

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The news reporting after the election showed the many typical and predictable articles, including one that is typically Swedish: As the second headline at Sweden’s largest morning paper (DN), I found an article highlighting that the proportion of women in parliament had sunke—and that this was caused by Sverigedemokraterna/SD (cf. the two previous entries).

We have an election that brought potentially very far-going changes to the political landscape (cf. the previous entry; in addition, some speculate on an end to Sweden as a leftist nation), and what is put in the spotlight? A minor change in the proportion of women…

One quote of the article well summarized the one-sided attitude of Swedish media:

Att skapa en jämnare fördelning mellan könen i Sverige riksdag har varit en långsam process under de sista hundra åren och först under sista 15 åren har kvinnornas andel av antalet riksdagsledamöter hamnat på en någorlunda jämn fördelning.

(To create a more equal distribution between the sexes in Sweden [sic] parliament has been a slow process during the last hundred years and only in the last 15 years has the women’s share of the number of MPs landed on a relatively even distribution.)

Apart from further support for the observation that Swedish journalists are poor writers:

  1. The quote presupposes that an even distribution is better or fairer than an uneven one. There is, however, not one shred of evidence for this being so. On the contrary, there are strong signs that equal numbers only arise when women are given a leg up. (Reasons include typical priorities of men and women, e.g. career vs. family; the distribution of ability in the high-end of the spectrum; and who is at all interested in doing what.)

  2. It creates the impression that a deliberate attempt at change has taken a full century. In truth, deliberate attempts have only been present in the last two decades (or so)—which corresponds conspicuously to the 15 years of near sameness.

Among the more factual claims of the article, we have that Sweden is currently the nation with the second highest proportion of women in parliament, after Rwanda (!)—but will now fall to fifth or sixth roughly on par with Iceland and Cuba. (As can be seen, a high proportion of women is not the same as success and enlightenment…) In numbers, the drop is from 46.4 % to 43–44 %—which I would consider worthy of a single line of text together with other information about the overall numbers.

I note that the high number of women is largely due to the left, which has brought women to the top even when they were entirely unsuitable, including disasters like the Social-Democratic PM candidate, Mona Sahlinw (abuse of government expense accounts, tax evasion, parking tickets galore, failure as a business woman, low “confidence ratings” even among the party’s supporters), and the former leader of the once-communist party, Gudrun Schymanw (severe drinking problems, tax fraud, out-of-touch-with-reality feminism).

The change is ascribed to SD in a neutral manner (far from a given), but it should be noted that there have been attempts to focus on them as a party of angry young men, with common allegations of sexism and misogynism—indeed, that the typical voter is a young man, low in education, and often unemployed, is explicitly mentioned). As a counter-point, a few numbers taken from a Swedish blog on similar topicse: 5 % of the men and 3 % of the women voted for SD, leaving plenty of room for angry young women. Further, there were almost three times as many women who voted for SD as for Feministiskt Initiativ (a radical feminist party led by the aforementioned Schyman)—so much for misogynism.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 21, 2010 at 7:07 am

The results of the Swedish election

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The preliminary numbers are in (finals will be available in a few days time). There are several interesting observations to make:

  1. The centre-right alliance increased its percentage of the vote from 48.2 in the last election (2006) to 49.3—but loses its majority in parliament, because …

  2. … Sverigedemokraterna received 5.7 %, which is above the 4 % limit for representation. (To be compared with 2.9 % in the previous election.) This is the first new entry since 1991—and they actually moved ahead of Kristdemokraterna and the former Communist Party, which both landed at 5.6.

    While not myself a supporter, I am mildly positive to the result for three reasons: Firstly, this is the one party that clearly distances itself from the evils and irrationality of gender-feminism. Secondly, there are issues concerning themes like immigration where pre-conceived opinions rule and no room for discussion is present. Irrespective of who is ultimately right or wrong (and I do not say that Sverigedemokraterna are right), their mere presence will challenge the orthodoxy—which is positive. Thirdly, it proves that undemocratic methods (including throwing eggs, threatening candidates, media refusing to publish election commercials, and similar) need not prevent democracy.

    The controversy around Sverigedemokraterna has been discussed earlier.

  3. There will now be eight (!) parties with parliamentary representation, which starts to seem excessive. Notably, six of the eight are at or below 7.2 %, making most of them satellites to the two major parties:

  4. Socialdemokraterna reached a “mere” 30.9 % in their worst election since 1914. At the all-time high (in 1940), they reached 53.8 %; and had 45.3 % as late as 1994. They, just barely, remain the largest party, however.

  5. Moderaterna reached an all-time high of 30.0 %—the highest non-Socialdemokraterna percentage since 1914. (Notably, the numbers from the first three elections, in 1911 and the spring and autumn of 1914, have a different character from 1917 and onwards, gradual later changes notwithstanding.)

Overall, the alliance will likely remain in government, but with the vågmästare scenario of the previous entry. (As for me: I did not vote, but feel that the lesser, by a considerable margin, of two evils won. A majority victory would have been preferable, obviously.)

All numbers are taken from the Swedish Wikipediaw:sv.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 20, 2010 at 1:34 am

Reflections on the blogosphere and the Swedish election

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Today, the Swedish parliamentary election takes place. Unsurprisingly, this has affected the contents of the local blogosphere.

Looking back over what I have read today, the last week, and the last month, there is a clear tendency for individual bloggers to have very partial and biased views of events, persons, and parties. At the same time, various party supporters use more-or-less the same arguments against each other.

A few examples:

  1. Whenever there was a television debate, the proponents of both parties talked about how their hero had torn his opponent to pieces.

  2. The argument has been raised both that a vote on the incumbent centre-right alliance and a vote on the historically dominating left would also be a vote for the much hated Sverigedemokraterna.

    The pro-incumbent argued that a vote on the left diminishes the chance for a majority victory for the poll-leading centre-right, which would allow Sverigedemokraterna to act as “vågmästare” (lit. “scale master”, a minor, unpledged party that can manipulate the political balance for its own gain by making its support a matter of tit-for-tat). Unfortunately, in Sweden’s multi-party system and its obsession with coalitions (as opposed to issues), this is a recurring, actual problem—but one that would be easy to avoid with more sensible politicians. Effectively, he reasoned that voters should vote against their own convictions to prevent this minor party from gaining influence…

    The pro-left argued with even less reason, claiming that because the left had unequivocally ruled out a cooperation with Sverigedemokraterna, while the centre-right had not, it would be safer to vote left. In my impression, this was just a second-rate excuse for not having to apply the same reasoning to the left (resp. avoiding the conclusion that a centre-right vote was called for, following the pro-incumbent’s reasoning).

    In addition, one supporter of the even smaller Piratpartiet argued (jokingly?) that it was safest to vote for Piratpartiet, so that it could become the vågmästare—relieving the main competitors from reliance on Sverigedemokraterna.

  3. The opposing parties are regularly accused of the same things or ascribed the same motives or feelings, including being opportunistic, lying, getting desperate (when trailing in the polls), and using unfair methods.

Silly, narrow-minded, and self-righteous people? Probably. However, also quite ordinary and normal people who often genuinely believe that it is the rest of the world which consists of silly, narrow-minded, and self-righteous people—which raises the question how many of us, without realizing it, are also one them… (Be it in general or with regard to specific pet issues.)

My recommendation (and what I, myself, do) is to regularly put ones own opinions and behaviours under scrutiny. In particular, when seeing something that appears really silly, it pays to stop and ask questions like “Is this something that I, myself, have done on other occasions?”, “Is this a behaviour that I would be less hostile too, if it came from the party/ideology/religion that I support?”, and similar. Among the benefits is a better self-knowledge and a more nuanced view of right and wrong, who does what, and so on.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 19, 2010 at 10:25 am