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Franknburger
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« on: October 09, 2013, 09:21:44 pm »

First - welcome back, Franzl! Hope you enjoyed your break.

I still need a bit of time for my Hamburg metro maps. Two counties (SE, PI) had their result pages down, and I had to e-mail them for precinct data.

In the meantime, here some observations on AfD. Take a look at a few of their strongholds:

Winsen (Luhe) Stöckte II - 13.6 %


Quickborn 080 (NO): 9.94%


Reinbek-Krabbenkamp: 7.1%


Neumunster 35 (Faldera SW): 7.3%


A few other ones w/o photos: Ahrensburg Am Hagen (8.0), Ammersbek-Rehhagen (8.4), Norderstedt 092 (7.3), Oersdorf SE (8.6), Drestedt WL (9.2), Bad Oldesloe-Rethwischfeld (8.3), Süsel-Zarnekau (11.6), Geesthacht 14 (7.5).

What is common to these places? First, their location. They are not only suburban, but located towards the periphery of the respective suburbs (or small towns).
Secondly,  they are made up of individual housing (often detached) on rather small plots, built in the 1960s to late 1970s. Housing which is in the process of being turned over to the next generation,  by sale or inheritance, and  typically is in dire need of modernisation. In other words - the kind of real estate that is offered as "opportunity for people with handicraft skills". The cheapest way to get a house with a small garden, for people that neither mind driving longer distances to work, nor can afford to look for stylish property.
Quite a number of young families (1-2 kids, otherwise the houses are too small) with rather low income, probably also not too well educated, plus those that moved there originally, from a similar demography, but over 65 by now. Politically, several of these quarters lean "left", with the SPD being  the strongest party, and Die Linke over-performing as well. As such, I tend to interpret the elevated AfD vote there rather along the lines of  "I also am struggling financially, and nobody is giving me money, why should Greece have it better" than as a fundamentally right-wing vote - and many AfD voters may have abstained in 2009. [There are further AfD voting patternsl, which I will comment on with the AfD Hamburg metro map to come].

For a final illustration, look at Lübeck-Brandenbaum:

The precinct to the bottom right is one of the AfD's strongest ones in the city (AfD 6.1%, Linke 9.5%, NPD 1.4%).  The area in the center of the picture, however, gave them one of their weakest results- 2.7%.  Instead, it is having SPD (38.4) and Grüne (11.2) strong. What makes the difference? The plot sizes are larger in Brandenbaum-North, which means houses are more expensive, and the population is a bit better off financially (note also that  quite a number of houses in Brandenbaum-North have already received new roofing).
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Franknburger
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2013, 03:50:03 pm »

Are long lots like those in the last two of Franknburger's images common in Germany?
They are quite common in Northern Germany, where you have a lot of swampy/marshy areas. From the 17th century on, these areas were gradually drained by a network of small channels, with the main channels running in parallel to the larger creeks/ rivers, and small channels feeding in orthogonally.  The drainage system naturally led into a pattern of long, but not very wide  lots that run from the street/ dyke towards the next major drainage channel. The picture below shows the traditional settlement on the Elbe marshes around Hamburg, as it developed after dykes were built along the river in the 17th/ 18th century.



Most of the draining, however, only took place in the early 20th century, especially under the Nazis, as the creation of new settlement areas for individual housing with small-scale agriculture  formed part of their social policy. The Nazis typically used concentration camp workers, especially political prisoners, later also Russian POW, for these drainage works. The workers' life is described in the German resistance hymn on the "Moorsoldaten".
After WW II, when new housing was required for millions of displaced Germans from territory now under Russian and Polish administration, the freshly drained areas were an obvious option for settlement development, and split up the traditional way. 

In parts of Southern and Eastern Germany, a similar settlement pattern, the Waldhufendorf, was used since the 10th century to clear and colonise forest areas. See this historic map of Schönbrunn (now Jablonec) in Silesia.
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Franknburger
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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2013, 01:16:19 am »

The green epicentres in Bornheim and Westend are obvious and expected. FDP-leaning bankers appear to prefer the Nordend in-between.

Curious for your AfD map-will it also show 1960s/1970s detached housing areas as their strongholds, as around Hamburg? How about Oberursel in this respect?
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Franknburger
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2013, 12:54:01 pm »
« Edited: October 15, 2013, 12:55:32 pm by Franknburger »

From all my county-level number crunching in process, here  some interim findings on the impact of vote-by mail, based on 2 counties (Lübeck city, Stade I-Rotenburg II):

Both the FDP and the Greens under-performed on election day compared to vote by mail. The Greens underperformed by some 2.5%, resulting in their precinct results being some 0.5% below their total share. In the case of the FDP, their voting day underperformance is around 2%, reducing their precinct results by some 0.4%.

Conversely, AfD, Linke and SPD over-performed on election day. In the case of AfD, voting day over performance is around 1% (0.2% impact on total, which would have had them entering the Bundestag). For the Linke, the effect is much more pronounced in Lübeck (+2.4) than in Stade-Rotenburg (+0.9). The same applies to the SPD (Lübeck +4.3, Stade +1.4).

The CDU  under-performed in Lübeck (-3.5%). but not in Stade-Rotenburg (+0.6).

The sample is a bit small to already draw conclusions. Moreover, Grüne should generally over-perform in vote-by-mail: Students still registered to vote with their parents, younger voters going on holiday when school vacations have finished, etc. The Pirates, b.t.w., also overperformed in vote-by-mail. In the case of the FDP, you as well have some "early autumn holidays" effect among their elder, affluent clientele that should drive up their vote-by-mail.
Nevertheless, the observation may indicate some last-minute swings from Grüne to Linke and SPD, and from  FDP to CDU and AfD (possibly also an urban CDU->SPD swing), and needs to be considered when looking at my precinct maps to come.
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Franknburger
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2013, 02:38:05 pm »

The road toll will never come. It needs Bundesrat approval - if the compensation shall be done via vehicle tax, that tax' revenue is for the States, and the Federation will also need State institutions for road toll collection (car registration offices, etc.). Means at least a lengthy negotiation process (how will the Federal Government compensate the States for less vehicle tax revenue and administration costs for toll collection), but most likely ultimately failure (Greens have usually been clever enough to put a veto clause on Budesrat voting in their state-level coalition agreements).
I just don't understand why the SPD put so much effort into negotiating the toll at all, instead of just saying "o.k." and killing it afterwards in the Bundesrat ...
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Franknburger
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2013, 03:29:55 am »

To be honest, I'd be more interested in seeing black-green at federal level as well, but unless the SPD members revolt..and even then....not gonna happen.
Our local newspaper has asked a number of people -local politicians as well as people from the street - on their opinion. The politicians (either SPD or CDU) all lauded the compromise, people from the street said they would have preferred black-green after all. But its not going to happen -the old Green leadership (Trittin/ Roth) has destroyed too many bridges during the election campaign, and the new leadership needs time to refocus the party.

"Cheap" is actually not a correct word to describe the outcome - the agreement includes 23 billion Euros extra spending (infrastructure, pensions, etc.), and nobody knows yet how to finance it. Merkel boosts her pride to have blocked any tax increases proposed by the SPD.

Furthermore, as could be expected from a Grand Coalition, the compromise includes more government rights for storing and exploiting data on citizens (including telecommunications usage) - as if there never had been something like the NSA affair. Greens, but also what is left from the FDP, have already voiced their protest.
Expansion of wind power shall be curtailed, coal-fired power plants get operation guarantees - the old "coal miring' SPD is back.

A final observation: The pension compromise that nobody knows how to finance yet includes the right to go into pension at 63, provided people have worked at least for 45 years (SPD), and higher pension entitlement for motherhood times (CDU). The SPD is criticising the CDU's old-fashioned gender perspective, without realising that 99,9% of the people to benefit from the "pension after 45 years of work" will be (blue collar) males. Both parties have failed to provide any answer to the pension needs of today's women (especially single mothers), who typically  will combine periods of motherhood, part-time and full-time work in their biography.

In short - a rather fragile compromise between the traditionalists in both parties, brought about by classical "cheque-book diplomacy", which fails to address various challenges of the 21st century.
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Franknburger
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2013, 04:50:58 pm »

Actually, could someone more familiar with German constitutional matters explain what the anchor was even trying to argue? Because to me it seems to be verging on Insane Troll Logic.
She referred to certain experts in constitutional law (according  to her quoted by all major newspapers, which I myself must have overlooked). These experts pointed out that the German constitution guarantees the independence of MPs, subjecting them only to their personal assessment and conscience. The anchor asked how that could go together with a party vote on the coalition agreement.
Gabriel answered that the membership vote did not relate to any specific parliamentary vote (where each MP still retains personal autonomy), but to whether the SPD leadership should sign the coalition agreement with the CDU or not. As such, it was a party-internal matter. Moreover, the German constitution explicitly provides political parties with the role "to participate in political opinion-building", and the Law on Political Parties obliges all parties to internal democracy. As such, it might rather be asked whether the CDU, having only their board voting on the coalition agreement, complied with constitutional and legal prescriptions, than the SPD.

So far, so good. Legitimate question, convincing answer. Next question, please.

Everything afterwards is a bit difficult to understand. So far, Mrs. Slomka has been a pretty good anchor. Well prepared, asking the right questions, not letting politicians get away with their usual bubbles. She probably was annoyed that Gabriel did not answer her initial question: "There were quite a number of critical comments tonight. Getting the members to agree may still take some effort, Mr. Gabriel" - " You obviously haven't listened to what was said here tonight ...". Gabriel's start was also not really polite "Good evening, Mr. Gabriel" - "Good evening".

Merkel's "women in media" network is well known. Aside from Friede Springer (BILD tabloid, SAT 1/ Pro7 TV networks), it includes former ARD anchor Sabine Christiansen, possibly also Liz Mohn (Bertelsmann - RTL TV network, STERN magazine, various local newspapers, minority share in SPIEGEL,  etc.). The Greens have openly blamed their loss on this media network, and the SPD apparently shares that assessment to some extent. Gabriel, in one of his later statements ("This is not the first time you try to turn an SPD leader's statement into the opposite of its meaning"), indicated that he believes Mrs. Slomka to belong to that network as well.
This, in turn, makes you wonder why he agreed to the interview in first place, instead of letting party secretary Andrea Nahles do the job. Maybe he intended to get Mrs. Slomka acting unprofessionally - and she did him the favour...
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Franknburger
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2013, 12:05:37 pm »
« Edited: December 03, 2013, 12:09:44 pm by Franknburger »

In don't think the SPD is doomed for extinction. It has a "natural" political base - non-academic professionals in the lower to middle income groups - and the potential to reach out into other voter segments (immigrants, single mothers, academics, etc.). Whether the natural base is to decline further in sociological relevance is also debatable. More likely, it will rather transform from "male blue collar" to "female white coat". But employment wise, at least the latter should rather grow, especially in health and care, alongside with demographical change.
 
As such, the SPD is no more doomed than the CDU, whose natural bases (catholics, rural population) are also declining. While it may be true that the SPD is having problems in small town Bavaria (and Saxony, possibly Baden-Würtemberg, etc.), it is still having considerable electoral appeal in small towns elsewhere, e.g. Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, NRW, Saarland. The CDU, OTOH, is almost dead in the inner cities (Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt), areas that in future will gain further relevance in relation to the gradually de-populating countryside. The fight will be for the suburbs, strength or weakness there should be the benchmark to judge on a party's perspective.

I see the German political structure transforming from a FPTP (US/UK) model with two competing main parties to a Scandinavian pattern, with 5-7 relevant parties differentiated across the whole political spectrum. In such a spectrum, leadership means some 30%+ vote share, and a call on chancellorship in a 2-4 party coalition. Such a perspective is anything but out of reach for the SPD. With AfD, FDP, maybe FW possibly (re-)gaining strength, the CDU may find themselves in a similar position in 2017.

The grand coalition, and the membership vote, forces the SPD to recognise and discuss these trends. The "Gallic village"  approach as defender of progress against social conservatism and big business did not work electorally, now it has also out served for uniting the party itself. Review is overdue and should already have taken place 2005-2009.

In that context, I find your statements, ERvND, quite telling. Obviously, the SPD (membership) is still in the middle of the "acceptance" phase, and not yet at the point where programmatic implications are being discussed:
-  Popular mood against tax increases and "bigger government" ultimately killed the red-green perspective, even though other parts of the social agenda (child care, minimum wage) enjoyed majority support. Will the SPD need to review positions on taxation and government role (as the Greens are in the process of doing)?
- Continue the fight with the CDU on the pensioners' vote, or give it up and focus on younger generations instead?
- Maintain the mental focus on blue-collar "working class" males, or refocus on white-coat female (part-time) employment, and the real-existing poverty, namely single mothers?
- Large-scale infrastructure projects are neither popular nor have worked particularly well over the last years - so what?
- Pro-coal or pro-wind?
- Crime prevention/ fight against terrorism, or civil rights / privacy?

In any case, the current discussion within the SPD is overdue and positive, not only for the party, but for the electoral landscape as a whole. It will be interesting to see how far it goes, and what ultimately comes out of it.
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Franknburger
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2013, 03:47:46 pm »
« Edited: December 14, 2013, 04:27:51 pm by Franknburger »

There are actually quite a number of surprises in the ministerial portfolios. Here the break-up by parties:

Chancellor - Angela Merkel
Chief of Staff -  Peter Altmaier (ex Minister of Environment)
State Minister for Migration & Integration - Aydan Özoguz

Foreign Affairs - Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Defense - Ursula von der Leyen (ex Min. of Labour)
Economic Cooperation - Hans-Peter Friedrich?

Finance - Wolfgang Schäuble
Economy (+Energy / - Communication) - Sigmar Gabriel
Trensport (+Communication / - Construction) - Alexander Dobrindt
Environment (+Construction/ - Energy) - Barbara Hendricks

Agriculture (-Consumer Protection) - ??

Interior - Lothar de Maiziere (ex Min. of Defense)
Justice (+Consumer Protection) - Heiko Maas

Labour - Andrea Nahles
Family - Manueala Schwesig

Health - Hermann Gröhe (ex CDU Secretary General)
Education & Research - Johanna Wanka?

Former Chief of Staff Ronald Pofalla will leave the Cabinet for undisclosed personal reasons. Former Minister of Transport Peter Ramsauer (CSU) is rumoured to leave as well, otherwise he may take over one of the yet unassigned CSU posts.

Overall quite a success for the SPD:
- 6 out of 15 Ministers
- Represented in the Chancellery through State Minister for Migration & Integration
- Extended their portfolio at the expense of the CSU (especially transfer of consumer protection from Agriculture to Justice)

CDU also gets 6 ministers, plus the chancellor. Big loser is the CSU - down from 4 to 3 ministries, losing the prestigious Ministry of Interior, and responsibility for consumer protection. Their only consolation is to have gained responsibility for communication, so they may take up again the traditional practice of channelling contracts to Siemens, Bavaria's largest employer (argh!).

von der Leyen as Minister of Defence looks like she is being built up as Merkels' successor to take over in 2016. By that time, Wolfgang Schäuble will turn 74, and probably also leave the Cabinet. The SPD is bringing her next generation (Schwesig, Maas, Özoguz) in position, not so the CDU. The CSU is still a wildcard - let's see whether they manage to put at least one woman up for their three minister posts.
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Franknburger
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 02:14:29 am »

I have to say, Ursula von der Leyen really fascinates me. A German Lutheran Ph.D involved in politics with 7 kids… that must be the German equivalent of Sasquatch, right?
Don't forget her family background. Instead of Sasquatch, you better put her in a line with Benazhir Bhutto, Megawati Sukarnoputri, or Indira Ghandi. Or, if that seems culturally more adequate, compare her to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and check out CSU politician Monika Hohlmeier.

Without questioning Ursula von der Leyen's political and intellectual class, I have some doubt whether she would have made it that far without her father's reputation and networks.
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Franknburger
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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2013, 11:32:11 am »

The honeymoon seems to be over:

In an unusual coalition, Greens and the ADAC (German motorist association, more than 18 million members) have simultaneously criticised the envisaged introduction of a motorway toll (rumoured to range around 100€/year): "Bureaucratic nightmare that is only creating jobs for public officials but hardly yields additional funds for road infrastructure"; "Flat-rate for long-distance drivers, encouraging fuel wastage". A (temporary) rise in fuel taxes would, at substantially lower administrative cost, be more socially just, environment-friendly, and also have foreign users participating in the cost of the German motorway system.

The CSU was quick to reply that they stick to the plan, noting that introducing a road toll by 2016 at latest has been put down firmly in the coalition agreement. SPD: "Yes, but under the condition that the toll corresponds to EU regulation, and no domestic car owner is paying more than he has to do now.." That will be difficult to achieve, since vehicle tax on small cars is well below 100€/ year, and any other form of direct compensation to German car owners is likely to be challenged by the EU. Angela Merkel has remained silent so far. Well, she is on holidays - but she also knows that pensioners,  her most loyal base, would be over proportion hit by a motorway toll.

This will be fun to watch over the next months...

Coming up next:
-Opening of the Berlin-Brandenburg airport postponed to at least 2015, further significant cost increase (says a usually well-informed friend of mine who is civil engineering consultant in Berlin) ->Federal transport budget in need of review...
- Deutsche Bahn suffers heavy losses due to increased competition by long-distance buses (which the Grand Coalition did not want to subject to the motorway toll that is already levied on trucks) ->Federal transport budget in need of review...
- After 40 years of use, crucial parts of the German motorway system require fundamental renovation [last summer, severe structural damage of the A7 bridge over the Kiel Canal, built 1972, was discovered, leading to temporary closure of the bridge to heavy traffic. Just when emergency repairs of that bridge were finished a few weeks ago, structural damage of three smaller bridges on the A1 north of Lübeck (built in the early 1970s) has been revealed, leading to restrictions on heavy traffic.] 3.100 km of motorway have been built in the 1970s in West Germany, plus several hundred km in East Germany (partly, e.g. Berlin-Rostock, not yet renewed). That is more than a third of the main grid - later additions were mostly secondary or feeder lines. it is estimated that 15% of German motorway bridges are in dire need of renewal ->Federal transport budget in need of review (financing gap estimated at 6bn Euros). 
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Franknburger
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« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2014, 05:11:20 pm »

God, no. Wowereit inherited that mess (and failed entirely to solve it, partly because it would have required cutting prestige losses long before the planning disaster was apparent to laymen, something politicians are of course notoriously wroth to do.) The actual culprits are, in ascending order, Manfred Stolpe, Eberhard Diepgen, and Helmut Kohl.

Well, that is a bit oversimplified, Let me summarise the main things that went wrong, as I have been told by my usually well-informed friend in Berlin. There are a number of points that aren't clear to me, I am also not able to put a name and date on every issue, but I hope nevertheless I can make the situation a bit clearer:

1. The original feasibility study for the airport came out with a construction cost estimate of some 1.3 billion Euros. For some reason and in some mysterious way, the cost estimate that was presented to the public was only 800 million Euros. When construction was tendered - surprise, surprise - offers ranged around 1.3 billion. The tender was cancelled, with suspected price-gouging given as official reason. Instead, the construction was split-up into individual lots that were tendered separately, with the airport company assuming the coordination role. When tendering was finished, no information on the total costs of all these lots was made available to the parliaments concerned, but according to my friend, splitting up the project into several lots did as well result in a contract total of around 1.3 billion.

2. It is usual for such projects that some details are changed during implementation. Any such changes are cost drivers, as the contractors can freely put forward extra expenditure, without being bound to original tender bids (it is quite common to go into tenders at cost price, in the hope of drawing profits from subsequent changes). In the case of the Berlin-Brandenburg airport, however, we are talking about more than just details. In order to increase revenue-generating retail space, the complete layout of the public areas was remodelled, and the building size increased from 200,000 to 340,000 m². No idea how much that increased the total cost - it seems negotiations among all parties are still on-going - but the re-modelling should have had quite an impact.

3. There had been substantial protest from people residing in the envisaged airplane approach paths, which was partly downplayed, partly encountered by the Brandenburg government publicly out ruling certain approach paths. For "technical reasons", some of these out-ruled paths lived up again in the spatial planning process ("Raumordnungsverfahren") for the airport. The thing went to court, over several instances, and the final, unchallengeable verdict obliged the Airport to ensure that certain maximum noise levels inside residential buildings are not exceeded. By the time of the verdict, construction was too far advanced to leave the airport with any other possibility than equipping all houses in question with 3-4 layer noise-insulating windows. This - as my friend calls it - largest job creation programme Berlin's and Brandenburg's construction business has ever seen will alone account for some 2 billion Euros extra cost.

4. As if that hadn't been enough, parts of the fire protection system - to be installed by five different contractors - had no accreditation with German authorities. That is more than a mere technicality - any such accreditation also includes binding specifications for equipment installation. In the absence of such specifications, it is 99,9% certain that, even if the equipment should retroactively get accredited, it will not be possible to document that it has been installed according to specification. In other words - the system may need to be completely removed and replaced by an accredited one that is installed in line with specifications. We are talking sensors, alarm signals, water pipes and sprayers, automatic doors, ventilation, etc. here - essentially, you may have to tear down and rebuild the whole terminal building, except for the outer walls.

5. When the problems with the fire protection system became obvious in late 2011 / early 2012, the coordinating engineering team, lead by Hamburg-based architects gmp, was fired. Legal dispute is on-going - gmp blames the problems on re-modelling on behalf of the airport company, and frequent political interference [As the case is pending in court, public access to information is restricted]. Whoever is to blame for what - the whole technical team had to be replaced, and the new team had to get acquainted with the situation and available documentation. This alone meant some 6-9 months interruption. Each moth delay costs at least 30 million Euros (interest, security, etc.),  some sources speak of as much as 40 millions, if possible compensation to airlines and Deutsche Bahn is included. You can do the math yourself...

6. In order to get the technical problems under control, the airport company in Summer 2012 recruited Horst Amann, previously chief planner at Frankfurt airport, as new Technical Director. Amman's approach was to systematically collect and inventorise all shortcomings, and then step by step work on overcoming them. On pressure by Federal Minister of Transport Peter Ramsauer, in December 2012, the airport's CEO, Rainer Schwarz (previously CEO at Düsseldorf airport), was replaced by Hartmut Mehdorn. Mehdorn, born in 1942, is former CEO of Deutsche Bahn and of Air Berlin, which is a bit delicate, as both companies claim compensation from the airport company (Air Berlin has already filed a court claim, when Mehdorn was still their CEO). He is known for his hands-on, pushy and often confrontational management style.
Unsurprisingly, the chemistry within the new management team wasn't optimal (to put it mildly). Mehdorn, trying to speed up things, proposed to experimentally already open one wing of the airport to the public, while Amann wasn't prepared to risk his head for partly opening an airport that does not have an approved fire protection system, and as such would be illegal to operate. Following mutual complaints against each other towards board members and in the press, the board in October 2013 finally decided to discard the position of the Airport's Technical Director, but keep Amann as CEO of a subsidiary in charge of the airport's utility systems (said subsidiary, however, so far has no other staff than its CEO). [In other words - everybody waited for Ramsauer to be removed as Federal Minister of Transport after the election, in order to be able to also get rid of Mehdorn, and get the one and only person in the team who ever has built an airport to the position where he belongs.] Achievements in 2013: 60,000 shortcomings have been documented, but hardly any action has been taken on them yet. And the taxameter is running...

7.  Did I say "hardly any action"? Unfortunately, that is not fully correct. It is not yet clear which parts (if any) of the fire security system can be maintained, and how much time and money will be needed to get the airport to German and EU fire security standards, Nevertheless, Mr. Mehdorn, in order to speed up things, has already given out the contract for a new fire security system to Siemens. Apparently free-handed, without international tender as is mandated under EU common market regulation. [Just in case you didn't know - his buddy, former Minister of Transport Peter Ramsauer, is from the Bavarian CSU. And Bavaria's largest employer is, of course, Siemens].

Oh yeah, and then there is the Investigative Committee of the Berlin House of Deputies, lead by the speaker of the Pirate faction - a guy in the late twenties, obviously quite intelligent and committed, but also pretty inexperienced. From my memory, here an extract of a TV interview with him some months ago:
"The fundamental problem is the legal construction of the airport company. It is at the same time in charge of running the existing Tegel and Schönefeld airports, and building the new airport. That legal construction has obviously been selected to make it more difficult to trace money flows."
Q: "But haven't you been warned in advance to not get too much into the project's history, thereby getting lost in irrelevant details, instead of looking at current processes, mistakes, and possibilities for damage control?"
A: "Well, I think it is important to study the development of the airport project from its initiation .."
That poor kid had obviously no idea of what he was dealing with!
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2014, 03:07:07 pm »

Depressing poll results.  Anyways, Kretschmann looks like he's in for a fight with the Catholic Church in B-W over the issue of teaching sexual diversity in public school sex-ed classes.  Hope it doesn't do him in in such a conservative state.

Church membership in Baden-Würtemberg (2011, quoted from Wikipedia):

Catholics        35.8 %
Protestants     31.9 %
Muslim             5.6 %
other               1.6 %
None              25.1 %

Against these figures, a fight with the Catholic Church on their influence on school teaching should rather benefit the Greens (note also that Catholic doesn't necessarily mean socially conservative, as Kretschmann, a Catholic himself, proves).
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2014, 02:51:11 pm »
« Edited: February 13, 2014, 02:56:08 pm by Franknburger »

Intended to post the same story - this will keep going on for some time.

In fact, Edathy has been a bit more than a mid-level SPD parliamentarian. He was head of the parliamentary committee that investigated the NSU affair (NSU = national-socialist underground, a terror cell that over almost 15 years committed at least ten murders of ethnic Turks and Greeks living in Germany, plus one policewoman, without ever getting noticed by authorities). Many expected him to assume a government post in the grand coalition - secretary of state within the Ministry of Interior, possibly with responsibility for combatting politically-motivated crime, looks like a plausible option. That would also explain why Friedrich in October, i.e. when coalition talks were already on-going, pointed out to Gabriel, Steinmeier and SPD parliamentary whip Thomas Oppermann that investigation against Edarthy was under way.

Edathy had since October withdrawn from active political work, reportedly for "burn-out symptoms", and this week formally resigned as Bundestag member - just before an official request for removing his parliamentary immunity was to be launched. Today, the police searched his house and his office, finding only one computer (but cabling for a number more), and remains of a mechanically destroyed hard-disk.  His IP address has been recorded with a Canada-based child pornography ring. However - a politician with focus on crime prevention may also have professional reasons to check out such a site. So far, it seems unlikely that anything else may be proven..

Now it gets interesting:
1. Why, absent any hard proof on Edathy's involvement with child pornography, has the whole case been published?

2. Why does SPD parliamentary whip Thomas Oppermann (a lawyer from Hannover, just as Edathy) on the morning Edathy's premises are being searched, issue a press statement that he, Gabriel and Steinmeier (both also representing southern Lower Saxony - it's quite a local club) had already last October been informed by Friedrich about on-going investigations?

3. Why does Oppermann, in the same statement, point out that he had cross-checked Friedrich's information with Bundeskriminalalamt (Federal Bureau of Investigation) head Jörg Ziercke, just for Ziercke, himself SPD member, immediately denying having given any information on the case to Oppermann?

4. How come the Hannover state attorneys, after the search of Edathy's premises failed to find anything substantial, issuing a press statement indicating Friedrich may have committed a crime by warning a suspect on an on-going investigation? And the Berlin state attorneys just a few hours later announcing they have started an official investigation in Friedrich's action (who, of course, is also under parliamentary immunity)?

This looks like the overture to a war of roses that may easily evolve into everyone against everyone, and the protagonists involved are anything but political lightweights. Note, btw, that Steinmeier has still a score to settle with Friedrich, who during the election campaign suggested that it was Steinmeier inviting the NSA to wire-tap German citizens. There is also substantial discomfort within the SPD on having given in to CDU pressure on the issue of storing phone and internet connection data - officially to ensure Germany complies with respective EU regulation (which the European Constitutional court has in the meantime ruled to be in violation of EU principles).
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2014, 11:09:22 am »
« Edited: February 14, 2014, 11:14:40 am by Franknburger »

Yes, but that's how policy works.

So, the SPD gets a knight for a pawn. I wonder whether that is the end of the story. The queen Merkel won't touch Gabriel and Steinmeier at the moment, because that would mean new elections, and probably the AfD entering the Bundestag. But Oppermann might be vulnerable...
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« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2014, 12:27:14 pm »
« Edited: February 14, 2014, 12:38:42 pm by Franknburger »

Shall we start betting on the pay-back to the SPD?

I suppose the CDU/CSU will be focusing in on Minister of Labour Andrea Nahles. She isn't very popular with the general public anyway, and getting her under pressure could stop or at least delay the introduction of a minimum wage, and the costly early retirement of those having been on the labour market for at least 45 years.
She doesn't have a PhD, so that approach is out. But I wouldn't wonder if there is already a team looking through everything she said during her time as head of the JuSos (SPD youth organisation) in the 1990s.

If you ever missed "Game of Thrones", it's on again ...

P.S: As to Friedrich: I could imagine that background checking was part of the standard procedure applied to any potential candidate for office within the Grand Coalition, and done upon prior agreement with both Merkel and Gabriel. If so, Friedrich has every reason to be pi..ed on Merkel, and is probably wishing he had left it to Merkel to pass on information retrieved to the SPD leadership.
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2014, 08:26:21 pm »
« Edited: February 14, 2014, 08:30:44 pm by Franknburger »

This leaves a loose end though. Someone in the SPD informed Sebastian Edathy of the investigation against him. Ironically, it is Edathy himself who could identify this person. Which means that he possesses the ability to destroy another political career.

First of all, Edathy definitely knew something would be coming up when removing his parliamentary immunity was requested. As such, the whole bickering of Hannover prosecutors lacks material substance - there never was the slightest chance for a surprise search.

Then, let's not forget that Edathy headed the NSU parliamentary investigation committee. There is hardly a better position to build up contacts towards all relevant law enforcement agencies. Edathy has obviously been a pain in the ass to some people, but there will be a number of others being grateful to his work, maybe even owing him a favour. I haven't counted how many heads have rolled due to the affair, but it should be quite a number...

Moreover, the heads of the Landeskriminalämter (state criminal offices) were also already in October informed about investigation on Edathy. This means that the Lower Saxony Minster of the Interior should as well have known.

So there are a number of ways how the info could have reached Edathy. Maybe even nobody had to tell him at all, he just needed to put 1 and 1 together. A Canada-based child porn ring that he frequented (for which reason ever) is uncovered, and he suddenly disappears from the list of potential office holders (probably first of all from the list of SPD members within the coalition negotiation work group on interior affairs). It's not too difficult to figure out what that could mean...

Friedrich on the other hand is merely the minister of agriculture and merely from the CSU. Besides, he was regarded damaged goods anyway because of his moronic handling of the NSA affair last year. Unlike Gabriel, Friedrich was expendable.
And, possibly, Merkel was just waiting for the opportunity to get rid of him. Ramsauer, who had f..ed up virtually everything a Minister of Transport can f..k up (Berlin-Brandenburg airport, Stuttgart 21, Fehmarnbelt-Tunnel, Kiel Canal closure..) was obviously first priority for disposal. Aigner, who wasn't brilliant either, decided to leave for herself. In that situation, additionally kicking out Friedrich could have risked even more conflict with Seehofer, So,  side-lining Friedrich from Interior to Agriculture might be the maximum she deemed achievable during the coalition talks. But when a golden opportunity arises, it shouldn't be left unused..
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2014, 03:58:48 pm »

Meanwhile, both CDU deputy chairman Armin Laschet and CSU Bundestag member Hans-Peter Uhl have demanded that the leaders of the SPD sign statements under oath that they didn't personally inform Edathy.
Predictable, and fruitless. Of course SPD leaders informed Edathy that he won't play a role in coalition talks and afterwards. How they explained it to him - who knows? But that is a line of discussion that will quickly get nasty not only for the SPD leaders, but also for Merkel. She can't really say she didn't know about Friedrich doing background checks on senior SPD personnel, and should she concede to have been informed as well on Friedrich passing on such information, she is toast.

That, in turn, makes me wonder whom Laschel and Uhl are really targeting at, and how long Merkel (and Seeoofer) will allow such demands to continue.
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2014, 08:03:15 pm »

According to the information retrieved by Canadian authorities during their investigation of the Canada-based ring, Edathy has between 2005 and 2010 received 31 photos. These photos display 7-13 years old naked boys, which are neither engaging in sexual activities nor are photographed  in any sexually explicit  manner. Such material is not illegal in Germany. From what I have read, the Canadian authorities have not been investigating the distribution of such photos, but of other, more explicit material that the ring started providing after 2010. The press here reports that Friedrich last October informed SPD leadership that Edathy was implied into the Canadian case, but that German authorities would not have any indication that he had actually done anything unlawful.

As such, there is no proof so far that Edathy has been committing any offence. Whether he has pedophile tendencies is up for speculation. There will probably be enough people in Germany supposing he has such tendencies to put his political career to an end.
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« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2014, 03:58:03 pm »
« Edited: February 16, 2014, 04:02:01 pm by Franknburger »

Actually, the SPD can just watch CSU politicians steaming and sit it out. Oppermann is their parliamentary whip - no government post, no CDU/CSU influence on that position. Asides, Oppermann claims that his press statement was pre-agreed with Friedrich, who received a draft of the statement one day before it was released.

Tuesday will become interesting, nevertheless. Afterwards we should have a clearer picture whether the SPD from the beginning intended to get rid of Friedrich, or Merkel used what she deemed to be a golden opportunity.

P.S: By my calculation, a CDU / SPD government without the CSU still would have a comfortable majority. Shouldn't take too long for the CSU to realise that fact. Oh, this is really fun!
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2014, 06:15:28 pm »

Update on recent developments:

- After tonight's "elephant round" (Merkel, Gabriel, Seehofer), participants declined to disclose any details. Merkel has confirmed that Friedrich's retreat was the right step, and announced that further details will be investigated. The grand coalition is not in question, Merkel has stated that cooperation will continue.

- Christian Schmidt (CSU), previously Secretary of State within the Ministries of Economic Co-operation (since late 2013) and Defense (2005-2013) will become new Minister of Agriculture. Friedrich has unanimously been elected CSU deputy parliamentary whip, replacing Thomas Silberborn, who takes up the post of Secretary of State within the Ministry of Economic Co-operation that has been vacated by Schmidt. CSU parliamentary whip Gerda Hasselfeld has stated that trust in the political partner (i.e. the SPD) might influence political decision making, e.g. related to energy policy (Gabriel's portfolio).

- SPD parliamentary whip Oppermann has stated the SPD would not "connect issues that are not related to each other". He himself would be "an anchor of stability" for the coalition. Within the SPD leadership, there has been an emotional debate whether Edathy should be expelled.  Gabriel pushes for such a move. Others say they are in sorrow about Edathy - he would require help, not more kicking when already down on the floor.

The affair itself is even getting more obscure:
- Former Lower Saxony Minister of Interior Heiner Bartling (SPD, in office 1998-2003) has reported about a telephone talk with Edathy last week, where Edathy indicated that he had been tipped-off by an informant from inside the prosecution apparatus ("Da läuft was gegen Dich" - "Something is going on against you", with "you" in the German familiar mode, corresponding to Early Modern English "thee").
- After Canadian authorities had held a press conference on the child porn ring on November 14, 2013, Edathy's lawyer on November 20 had requested a meeting with Hannover's state attorney.
-The official letter requesting removal of Edathy's parliamentary immunity is dated February 6 and was posted on February 7. It, however, only reached the Bundestag presidency on February 12, and has apparently been opened, resealed and handed to another deliverer in the meantime. Sebastian Edathy retreated as parliamentarian on the morning of February 7. Strange coincidence...
- The first press report on the case comes out on February 11 in a local newspaper in Edathy's constituency. It includes photographs from the police's first search of Edathy's premises on February 10. On February 12, a telefax dated February 10 is received by the police station responsible for the Bundestag in which Edathy makes report of his duty laptop (public property) having disappeared on a railway journey to Amsterdam. Other than requested by Hanoover prosecutors, Edathy's Bundestag office has not been officially sealed. However, Bundestag administration has taken all computers there into custody - permission to search them has been requested today.

Bottom line: While the CSU will continue being upset for some more time, it looks unlikely that anything can be stuck on Oppermann or other SPD leaders. Lower Saxony prosecution agencies, however, might get even more into crossfire. That might concern some state politicians as well, especially Minister of Interior Boris Pistorius (SPD). Not quite the game the CSU is out for, but beggars can't be choosers...
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« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2014, 06:22:31 pm »

Please consider to reconsider Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2014, 01:50:30 pm »

First results from Bavaria are in. Notable:

Nürnberger Land county: In two towns (Rothenbach/ Pegnitz and Lauf/ Pegnitz), the Green candidate for mayor received most votes. Both towns will  go into run-off; Lauf Greens vs. CSU, Rothenbach Greens & FW vs. SPD,

Schweinfurt City elects a CSU mayor (67%). As industrial town, Schweinfurt should be red, but it apparently isn't.

Passau elects an SPD mayor with 65%.

Coburg elects an SPD mayor with 51%
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« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2014, 03:40:50 pm »
« Edited: March 20, 2014, 03:44:38 pm by Franknburger »

Here's the final result of the Bavarian local election - the voting system appears to by quite complicated, so counting took quite a while:

CSU                 39.7 (-0.3)
SPD                 20.7 (-1.9)
Greens            10.2 (+2.0)
FW                   3.9 (+3.9)*
FDP                  2.4 (-1.4)*
ÖDP                 2.1 (+0.3)
other Parties     2.2 (--)*
open party lists 3.7 (+1.2)
local groups     15.3 (-3.7)

*)  not running in all cities / counties. Linke, AfD and Pirates typically only ran in the major cities.

When local lists centred around one party are included, the result is as follows:

CSU                 39.9 (-0.4)
SPD                 20.7 (-1.9)
Greens             10.8 (+1.9)
FW                    5.1 (+5.1)
FDP                   2.7 (-1.5)*
ÖDP                  3.1 (+0.3)*

Surprisingly, the Greens have been the big winner, at the expense of the SPD. Low participation (43.5%, -4.9) is part of the story, but the Greens have gained 90,000 additional voters (plus 20%). FW were not on the ballot in 2008, Their gain is roughly corresponding to the decrease with local lists (several of which may have relabelled), plus the FDP loss.

The SPD sweeped Fürth (51.1) and Nuremberg (44.1). They came in above 30% in the cities (but not the surrounding counties) of Munich, Regensburg, Aschaffenburg and Weiden/Opf, and in the NE (Coburg/ Hof/ Wunsiedel)

The Grreen strongholds were university towns (Bamberg 18.5, Wurzburg 17.5,  Erlangen 15.8 ), Munich (16.6) and even more so the surrounding counties (Freising - MUC airport 19.4, Starnberg 17.4), the cities of Landshut (16.3) and Rosenheim (16.0), Berchtesgaden and Traunstein near Salzburg (15.5 each), and parts of the Nuremberg periphery (Schwalbach 15.9).

FW came in strongly in the periphery of medium-scale car-manufacturing cities, most notably Neuburg-Schrobenhausen (near Ingolstadt, 33.4), Landshut county (26.7) and Regensburg county (25.1).

The CSU, finally, swept the countryside. They achieved close to or more than 50% in and around Schweinfurt, Rosenheim and Straubing, around Augsburg, and along the Inn.

Maps
http://www.br-online.de/kommunalwahl/
(click on "Parteistärke" on the  right-hand menu for individual party maps).
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« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2015, 07:55:12 pm »

A few more district highlights:

Kleiner Grasbrook (the single precinct district in the port area that was won by the Linke in the 2013 federal election):
Linke     31.9 (+12.6)
SPD       19.2 (-16.9)
Grüne    15.7 (- 3.4)
PARTEI  11.4 (+ 6.1)
Pirates   11.0 (- 1.0)
CDU        3.2 (- 2.1)
FDP        2.6 (+ 1.0)
AFD        1.6

Veddel (just next door, also in the port area, highest share of foreigners/ voters with migration background) - 2 precincts:
SPD       38.2 (- 4)
Linke     21.9 (+6)
Grüne    15.4 (--)
Pirates    5.8 (-7.3)
PARTEI   4.7 (+2.1)
AFD        4.4
FDP        3.6 (+1.9)
CDU       3.1 (- 2.4)

Billbrook (industrial area with dispersed housing, includes largest housing of asylum-seekers, AFD stronghold in the 2013 federal election) - 2 precincts:
SPD      48.9 (-2.5)
AFD      13.9
CDU     10.6 (- 6.3)
Linke     8.9 (--)
Pirates   6.0 (+1.5)
FDP       4.8 (+2.0)
Grüne    4.1 (-2.4)
NPD       0.0 (-5.3)->AFD collecting the right-wingers!

Billstedt (not quite as sh**tty as nearby Billbrook, but still very much blue collar/ low income) - 42 precincts
SPD     55.4 (-1.5)
CDU     13.1 (-7.0)
AFD     10.1
Linke    7.9 (+0.5)
Grüne   5.0 (-0.4)
FDP      4.6 (+0.5)

Sternschanze (next to St.Pauli, close to the University. alternative, but under gentrification pressurce) - 4 precincts:
Linke    29.1 (+ 9.3)
SPD     26.7 (-11.2)
Grüne  26.6 (+ 1.9)
Pirates   4.8 (- 0.7)
FDP       3.7 (+ 0.9)
PARTEI  3.6 (- 0.4)
CDU      3-0 (- 1.1)
AFD       1.2

Rahlstedt (middle-class suburb, mix of individual housing and appartment blocks, Olaf Scholz'[and my] home district, most populous district of Hamburg - this is where elections are decided. Narrowly won by the CDU in 2013) - 65 precincts
SPD      52.9 (+0.2)
CDU     16.7 (- 6.9)
Grüne    7.3 (+0.3)
AFD       7.3
FDP       6.6 (--)
Linke     5.8 (+0.5)
Caution - almost 30% vote-by-mail not included here. Vote-by-mail in Rahlstedt has similar trends, but CDU substantially stronger (23.5) and SPD (48.4), but also Grüne (6.1) and Linke (4.5) weaker. AFD is slightly stronger in vote-by-mail (7.6) than on the ballot box.


Harvestehude (posh inner-city area at the Alster lake, close to the University, but also large appartment blocks further away from the lake - traditional FDP stronghold) - 15 precincts
SPD     37.8 (-3.6)
CDU     17.8  (-5.4)
FDP     16.8 (+3.9)
Grüne  13.2 (-0.1)
Linke     7.6 (+2.3)
AFD      3.7

Nienstedten (even more upper-scale area on the bank of the Elbe - in the 2013 federal election, it voted 50% CDU, and 11% FDP) -  5 precincts:
SPD      36.2 (+1.6)
FDP      22.9 (+5.6)
CDU     19.9 (-12.0)
Grüne   11.9 (+1.4)
AFD       4.6
Linke     2.2 (+0.2)

Tatenberg (one of the marsh villages to the east, lots of greenhouse horticulture, strongest CDU district [53.2] in the 2013 federal election) - 1 precinct
SPD     44.2 (+7.7)
CDU     28.7 (-10.7)
Linke     9.2 (+3.5)
Grüne    7.0 (- 5.7)
AFD       4.7
FDP       2.7 (+0.2)
 
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