Germany, the leading economy in Europe, the symbol of order, stability and wellbeing, definitely doesn’t have such an exciting political scene as many other European countries. From one election to the next, the competition is going between the two major political parties: CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and SPD (Social-Democratic Party). Other popular parties like Die Linke (Leftist Party), Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen (The Greens) and FDP (liberal democrats) usually enter the Bundestag with a pretty good score and guarantee themselves a reputation of serious political powers.
Therefore, it was a big surprise when in 2013, the FDP, which usually formed a coalition with the CDU, didn’t gain the necessary 5% and therefore had to leave the Parliament for the next four years. Hence, the German Parliament represents the diversity of four parties right now.
Of course, there is a vast number of minor parties, some of them are in their way radical, which automatically excludes them from the competitors list, because Germans are very careful with their political choices and are absolutely not into taking risks in this aspect.
Here, we are going to have a closer look at the most important ones.
I didn’t take pictures of all major parties billboards, instead my goal was to show some curious pieces of electional campaign which could be a good base for a discussion.
AfD Alternatives for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland).
Founded in 2013. In October 2013, AfD surprisingly got
4% of votes at German Parliamentary Elections, which allows them to be
represented in the Parliament, but didn’t get any seats.
Nicknamed as “Professors’ Party” for consisting mostly of academic elite of the country. The leader of AfD is Bernd Lucke, 51, professor of macroeconomics at the University of Hamburg.AfD is well-known for being opposed to Euro. Its position towards the European currency is very clear: it should be replaced back with local currencies. AfD sees Euro as one of the main reasons of financial crisis in Greec, Portugal and Spain, and claims that financial debts of these countries should be omitted. AfD characterizes itself as a centrist party, while at the same time, it is often being accused of right-wing connections. One of the most important points in their election program, is limiting the immigration to the country, while they welcome skilled and qualified foreign professionals and academics. They also insist on giving an asylum and work permit to political refugees. As a result of these views they’re being labelled as nationalists by left-wing radicals, hence AfD billboards often become “victims of vandalism” being decorated with swastikas, writings “Nazis” or like in the target case with the Hitler-style moustache.
AfD is being criticized for their position towards the Turkish membership in the European Union. According to AfD, Turkey doesn’t belong to Europe, but it refers not to the nation, but mostly to the political course of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The lack of freedom of speech, islamisation of the society and corruption in the high political ranks are the most significant arguments AfD provides against Turkey joining the EU.
Christian-Democratic Union (CDU)
CDU is the ruling party in Germany. They got the majority of the places in the German Parliament in October 2013. The Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is the head of the party, therefore she appears on election billboards. The party was founded in 1945 as a new political force based on Christian-democratic values, which should have brought the country back to life after year of national-socialistic regime and World War II.
The main CDU candidate for the EP is David McAllister, 43, a lawyer with a long political career in Lower Saxony region. Curiosly, but I didn’t manage to find any billboards with McAllister not in Magdeburg neither in Frankfurt-on-Main.
In the European Parliament CDU belongs to the European People’s Party. CDU’s political program is based on the traditional values, such as family, equal educational opportunities, decreasing the unemployment level, supporting the weaker layers of society. This is as well reflected on their election billboards, which displays average people choosing CDU as a guarantee for their secure future. The one below shows a middle-aged engineer who believes that CDU will bring Europe to economic prosperity.
Social-Democratic Party (SPD)
It uses similar strategy of depicting well-known faces on their billboards as its main competitor, the CDU. The current President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, is a member of SPD and the main candidate for the Parliamentary elections. Other local popular SPD member is, like on the second billboard – the mayor of the city Magdeburg.
In its election programme SPD claims to make the work of European government more transparent and thus getting closer and clearer to the citizens. SPD intends to decrease the bureaucracy in European institutions, make them deal with actual problems Europe faces. As one of the ways out of solving the crisis SPD insists on the creation of a bank union which will guarantee the financial stability of citizens and enterprises, i.e. if one bank turns bankrupt other banks will take its responsibilities. Therefore, one of SPD slogans is, “Europe is for citizens not for banks”.
At the same time SPD claims for more power for the European Parliament, and stronger cooperation between countries in solving the current European issues. They underline the importance of the participation of all the members of the EU in decision-making and establishing strategies.
As well as other political parties SPD mentions decreasing unemployment, and especially youth unemployment as one of its primary goals. They want to establish common European system of internships, which would protect interns from exploitation, secure fair payment and appropriate conditions for work. Moreover SPD stay for common European basic income and equal right for the immigrants at the European labour market. Unlike AfD, SPD sees Euro as a strong and competitive currency which first of all contributed to the strengthening of German economy, and will therefore contribute to the European one.
MLPD Marksist-Leninist Party of Germany (Marksistisch-Leninistische Partei Deutschland)
As you may have already guessed MLPD is left-wing radical. They belong to numerous minor political parties in Germany which didn’t gain the 5% to enter German parliament. They see themselves as a socialist alternative to European elections. MLPD follows the principles preached by Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxembourg and one of their slogans is “Don’t give anticommunism a chance”. They see young people as their target voters and play the card of youth unemployment. Basically MLPD calls for the uprising against the European Union and as a result for a revolution. The goals of MLPD according to their election programme are the ban on all right-wing organisations, unlimited asylum to all political refugees and prosecution victims, solidarity with world’s crisis regions such as Ukraine, Greece and Syria, recognition of Palestine and Kurdistan. As their main political enemies MLPD see AfD, labelling them as ultra-right and racist union.
As well as CDU and SPD, marksists-lenininsts exploit popular political characters, which express the values of MLPD, like Che Guevara on the image above.
Photo credits: Hanna Starchyk
Edited by: Ramona Koska