September 30, 2013
Why Germany’s Politics Are Much Saner, Cheaper, and Nicer Than Ours

BERLIN — It’s the day before the German election, and Stefan Liebich, a member of the Bundestag for the far-left Die Linke party, is standing on the sidewalk at a busy intersection, smiling and shaking hands. He has a boombox and an assistant who fills up crimson balloons that say “Really Red” — to differentiate them from the slightly-less-red balloons being inflated by their rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD), who have a similar setup just a few feet away.
He’s in peak campaigning mode, yet he takes a 45-minute break to talk to a group of foreign journalists, including me, who can’t vote and don’t speak German.
Liebich’s casual arrangement seems fitting for someone running for, say, student council in the U.S., but he’s actually just a few thousand votes from losing his seat in parliament if Die Linke doesn’t garner a large enough percentage in the upcoming election. He says he is “excited” to see whether or not he makes it in.
It may seem barebones, but this is a typical last-day campaign event for a parliamentarian in Germany, where campaigns get government funding, parties are allocated TV advertising time, and microtargeting of voters is unthinkable.
To Americans who rarely get a respite from partisan vitriol, fundraising requests, and attack ads during campaign season, it’s almost enough to make you want to brush up on the college German and head to the visa office.
“It is completely different from the States,” Liebich said. “And I’m happy about it.”
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Why Germany’s Politics Are Much Saner, Cheaper, and Nicer Than Ours

BERLIN — It’s the day before the German election, and Stefan Liebich, a member of the Bundestag for the far-left Die Linke party, is standing on the sidewalk at a busy intersection, smiling and shaking hands. He has a boombox and an assistant who fills up crimson balloons that say “Really Red” — to differentiate them from the slightly-less-red balloons being inflated by their rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD), who have a similar setup just a few feet away.

He’s in peak campaigning mode, yet he takes a 45-minute break to talk to a group of foreign journalists, including me, who can’t vote and don’t speak German.

Liebich’s casual arrangement seems fitting for someone running for, say, student council in the U.S., but he’s actually just a few thousand votes from losing his seat in parliament if Die Linke doesn’t garner a large enough percentage in the upcoming election. He says he is “excited” to see whether or not he makes it in.

It may seem barebones, but this is a typical last-day campaign event for a parliamentarian in Germany, where campaigns get government funding, parties are allocated TV advertising time, and microtargeting of voters is unthinkable.

To Americans who rarely get a respite from partisan vitriol, fundraising requests, and attack ads during campaign season, it’s almost enough to make you want to brush up on the college German and head to the visa office.

“It is completely different from the States,” Liebich said. “And I’m happy about it.”

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

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