Rechtspopulisten, Rechtsradikale oder Rechtsextreme?

ZDF heute journal was kind enough to provide definitions for the terminology they use to describe right-wing parties that may or may not belong to the Europe-skeptical wing.

The question is whether the party supports the constitution. “Radical political opinions have their place in our pluralistic societal order,” ZDF said the federal Verfassungsschutz said.

Federal Verfassungsschutz defines extremists as those who work against core content of the constitution.

Populists “provide simple and not necessarily always completely correct answers to questions that are sometimes quite complex,” said ZDF.

Before Edward Snowden, one would have said that based on their attitude toward the constitution Verfassungsschutz would have kept an eye on extremists but not radicals or populists. However, now we know that no one’s data is safe.

ZDF said right-wing populists and radicals but not extremists include: F.P.Ö. in Austria, U.K.I.P. in U.K., Front National in France, Gert Wilders’s “Party of Freedom” in the Netherlands and Jobbik in Hungary.

Right-wing extremists include: the “Golden red of morning” [Goldener Morgenröte] in Greece and the neonazi N.P.D. party in Germany.

(RECTS pop ew LIST en,   rects rod ee CAWL ah   oh dah   rects ex TRAY mah?)

Ob Europas europafreundliche Parteien nervenstark genug sind, um nicht im Teich der Europagegner zu fischen

ZDF heute journal moderator Claus Kleber’s post-EU-parliamentary election question: whether Europe’s Europe-friendly political parties have strong enough nerves to not start fishing for votes in the pond that houses Europe’s opponents.

Bavaria’s C.S.U. party, which has governed Bavaria since 1946, ran an anti-foreigners campaign for the E.U. parliamentary election and did not succeed in motivating foreigner haters to go to the polls and vote C.S.U. -8%.

 

Schlagende Verbindung

The German university fraternities that deliberately cut each other in the face while swordfighting, as a result of which any company manager with a facial scar is thought to have a powerful right-wing network supporting him. This is still going on.

Not all Burschenschaft fraternities are schlagende Verbindungen.

Hamburg’s state Verfassungsschutz has announced they will be keeping a closer eye on the “Germania” Burschenschaft because some of its members might be right-wing extremists.

In 2013, said the officials, HB Germania’s political activity increased and included:

Multiple invitations to right-wing extremists, including a public relations expert and neonazi politician, Jürgen Schwab, who was to give a talk on “Manipulation of International Law.”

Close ties to a Hamburg fraternity of right-wing extremist high school students [Schülerverbindung]. I did not know there were Verbindungen-type fraternities for schoolchildren.

Update on 11 Jun 2014: The foundation in charge of the Wartburg castle in Eisenach said the Deutsche Burschenschaft will no longer be allowed to hold their annual meeting at the castle. Spiegel said this group is an umbrella association of right-wing student Verbindungen, who’ve caused talk lately by wondering aloud if they should require proof of Aryan ancestry for membership!

Update on 13 Jun 2014: In addition to Hamburg’s “Germania” fraternity, Verfassungsschutz is also looking at Munich’s “Danubia.” And two N.P.D. members of Saxony’s state parliament have said they were members of Gießen’s “Dresdensia-Rugia.”

The president of Saxony’s state Verfassungsschutz is a Burschenschaftler. He indicated that in college he joined a fraternity that his family member(s) had joined, that he has been active as one of their Alte Herren (“old gentlemen,” the alumni), and he didn’t mention it before because he thought this was a private matter.

(SHLAWG en da   fair BIN doong.)

Verrechnungspreismissbrauch

Transfer pricing tax evasion.

Under international finance rules that allowed corporations to assign profits earned by subsidiaries in countries with taxes to subsidiaries in countries without taxes, an online documentary explained, commodities companies could avoid taxes in source countries by having their extracting subsidiary sell the commodity to subsidiaries abroad at prices that did not reflect market prices, moving around on-paper profits and on-paper losses. The tactic is called transfer pricing. Rules supposed to prevent it required among other things that divisions of the same organization deal with each other “at arm’s length,” as if they were not part of the same organization.

Profits from this and other paper shuffles can apparently show up decades later and inflict serious fiscal damage on countries, even countries with the resources to give government auditors enough training to stand up to international corporations’ negotiators. In 2013 Rupert Murdoch’s giant News Corp. appears to have received the “largest cash payout from the Australian Tax Office ever,” a rebate of US$800 million for some on-paper loans to itself made in 1989. The money showed up in News Corp’s U.S. subsidiary’s Q4 2013 accounts as a US$800 million payment from “a foreign tax authority.” The original deduction was estimated by the Australian Financial Review at AU$600 million, but it was decided that News Corp was owed additional interest on it of almost AU$300 million.

The huge payment is being described as a substantial inconvenience or “blowout” to the current Australian federal budget. Last summer then-Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd accused News Corp companies in Australia of running a “ferocious” media campaign against his government, including accusing the Labour government of overspending. Kevin Rudd lost the Australian election to Tony Abbott on 07 Sep 2013.

This is how the tax deduction happened, according to an online 17 Feb 2014 article from the Australian Financial Review:

“In a 1989 meeting, four News Corp Australia executives exchanged cheques and share transfers between local and overseas subsidiaries that moved through several currencies.

“They were paper transactions; no funds actually moved. In 2000 and 2001 the loans were unwound. With the Australian dollar riding high, News Corp’s Australian subsidiaries recorded a $2 billion loss, while other subsidiaries in tax havens recorded a $2 billion gain.

“By last July that paper “loss”, booked against News Corp’s Australian newspaper operations, had become an [A]$882 million cash payout.

“Under a legal arrangement when the company was spun off last June, News was forced to pass all of the tax payout to Mr Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

“News Corp said it had retained $A81 million because it faced income tax charges on the interest payments by the Tax Office. However it seems unlikely to actually pay these funds: News Corp Australia carried another $1.5 billion in tax deductions from a separate paper shuffle that it made when News reincorporated in the US.”

(Fair ECHH noongs price mis BROW chh.)

Stilwechsel

A change of style.

On 22 Feb 2014, Italy’s new prime minister, Matteo Renzi, and his cabinet were sworn into office. Eight of the sixteen cabinet ministers were women, apparently a first in Italy. It’s also one of the youngest cabinets in Italy’s history, with a relatively low number of ministers.

Mr. Renzi said he wants to start reforming Italy’s election laws and institutions this month, with labor market reform in March 2014, public administration reform in April 2014, and tax reform in May 2014.

Background gleaned in February 2013 from international reporting trying to make sense of Italy’s post-2013-election carnage:

Italy’s complex governing problems arose from post-Mussolini fears of a strong Prime Minister and the arcane electoral laws passed by Silvio Berlusconi in 2006. According to the 27 Feb 2013 F.A.Z., problems to be fixed included:

A weak prime minister who could not, e.g., fire ministers from his own cabinet. Tiny majorities were inflated by being awarded bonus seats in both sides of the legislature, in the interest of increasing governmental stability; this must have contributed to Italian voters’ furious sense of powerlessness. Young Italians were in fact powerless, having been deliberately disenfranchised: the minimum voting age was 18 to vote for House members but 25 to vote for Senators! Some election rules were so abstruse it seemed like deliberate confustication (surfed successfully in 2013 by Mr. Berlusconi’s intense campaigning in the more populous regions):

  • Parties had to win at least 4% to enter the Italian house of representatives, unless they were in coalitions that won >10% in which case they only needed to win 2%; but the “best loser” party was also allowed to keep its House seats at even <2%.
  • Senate seats were won regionally and the minimum for a party to enter the Senate was 8% in each region, unless the party was in a coalition with ≥20% in which case it needed only ≥3%.

Update on 13 Dec 2013: Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s election reform will be eliminating state financing of campaigns; it will be gone by 2017 said Spiegel.de. Campaigns in Italy will be financed only by donations from individuals and companies. The parties had been receiving payments from the government based on the number of votes they collected in elections. This will be reduced to 60% in 2014, 50% in 2015, 40% in 2016, and then zeroed out. The new law limited the tax-deductible donations to Italian political parties to max. 300,000 euros per person and 200,000 euros per company.

Germany uses a similar public-funding system for political parties but, said Spiegel.de, only gave 145 million euros to its political parties in 2012 while Italy spent 182 million euros. Mr. Letta’s predecessor Mario Monti had already begun reducing the heavily criticized funding (down to 91 million euros in 2013), which had had the reputation among some Italian voters of making Italy’s political parties a “Selbstbedienungsladen,” a help-yourself shop, for politicians.

It seems Mr. Letta’s plan to eliminate public campaign financing entirely would ultimately reduce democracy in Italy. Large companies could live very comfortably with that kind of power, as we can see in the U.S.A. before and especially after the Citizens United decision by the U.S.’s Supreme Court.

(SHTEEL vecks el.)

Parteiengesetz

“Political parties law,” which defines some German election rules.

An Armistice Day article in Spiegel.de on the continuance of the neonazi-legacy N.P.D. party’s temporary loss of government political party financing due to “chaotic bookkeeping” mentioned some interesting aspects of German public financing of political parties and the parties’ reporting obligations. Under the Parteiengesetz, the German government gives all parties that receive at least 0.5% of the vote in Bundestag or European Union elections, and/or 1% in state elections, 85 eurocents for each vote received in E.U., Bundestag and German state parliamentary elections. That is reduced to 70 eurocents per vote >4 million votes. “Also, for each euro a party receives as a membership fee or donation, up to 3300 euros, the government pays another 38 eurocents.”

This money is paid to the parties in quarterly installments.

Spiegel.de said the N.P.D.’s financial trials began in 2007 when a Thuringian N.P.D. official named Golkowski was caught using fake donation receipts in order to get more matching funds from the government. This may have been going on since the 1990’s. The error was compounded by the so-called “chaotic bookkeeping” in that year’s year-end reporting that should have been glass-clear in order to avoid more trouble but in which party treasurer Köster apparently misplaced almost 900,000 euros by using the wrong tables at one point. As per the Parteiengesetz, the N.P.D. had to return the inappropriately obtained donation-matching funds (almost 900,000 euros) and pay a fine double that amount. Accordingly, the Bundestag announced the N.P.D. would be fined 2.5 million euros for the malfeasance, but in December 2012 the supreme constitution court in Karlsruhe, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, reduced the fine to 1.27 million euros because, they said, the Bundestag had overlooked the fact that the radical right-wing party had provided “coherent/conclusive explanations” [“schlüssig erläutert“] of some of the points they were accused of. In May 2013, in response to the N.P.D.’s accelerated appeal to the supreme constitutional court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht said the government would have to pay the N.P.D.’s 15 May 2013 and 15 Aug 2013 quarterly payments “in advance” until a final court decision in the main hearing on the fine’s legality; this financed the party until at least the 22 Sep 2013 Bundestag election.

On 11 Nov 2013, the Bundesverfassungsgericht announced that the neonazi party’s fine would not be cancelled more yet and their 15 Nov 2013 payment can now be stopped. Although the N.P.D. had filed an accelerated appeal to the nation’s highest court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht said the party had not exhausted its relevant appeals in Berlin. The N.P.D. said they need this money now more than ever, with the E.U. Parliament election coming up.

Spiegel.de’s chart shows government contributions to the N.P.D. from 2003 to 2011. Red bar numbers represent government contributions in millions of euros. Beige bar numbers are government funding’s percentage of total N.P.D. income that year.

(Pot EYE en gezz ETZ.)

Sich ein genaueres Bild machen

“To make yourself a more detailed/precise picture.” When German politicians are photographed flying over a flood or hurricane looking out the airplane window, they are “making themselves a picture” of the phenomenon.

In a more positive-sounding example, the troika put together from the E.U. Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund that audits the austerity measures of financially strapped member states’ governments before allowing them to borrow more money is now being audited itself by the E.U. Parliament. Particularly the M.E.P.’s from countries subject to the troika are examining their work in detail, with criticism and questions and reporting back to their home newspapers.

(ZICHH   eye n   geh n OW! air ess    BILLED   mochh en.)

“Ein politisches Armutszeugnis”

“A certificate of political poverty,” meaning the budgetary brinksmanship done by a fraction of one political party in the U.S. Congress, which seemed to one German reporter to be evidence that the U.S. has neglected long-overdue political reforms. Such as electoral reforms that would shift legislators’ focus from fundraising to legislating, e.g. by capping donations and limiting campaigns to several weeks instead of two to four years.

Another German reporter said the U.S. has been “hammeling” from one jerry-rigged makeshift stopgap provisorium to the next for five years now. “Hammeln” sounds like an interesting word but its translation is not yet apparent from online wikis.

(Eye n   poll EE tee shess   ARRR moots tsoy g niss.)

“Bekannte Gefangenschaft”

Known captivity” of forming a “grosse Koalition,” a large coalition consisting of Germany’s two biggest political parties and practically no opposition. After the 22 Sep 2013 Bundestag election, Chancellor Merkel‘s C.D.U. was more powerful than ever yet needed another seat or two for a Bundestag majority. Its trusty traditional libertarianesque coalition partner, the F.D.P., didn’t manage the 5% hurdle created to prevent future Hitlers and so is now out of the Bundestag. Whoever partners with the C.D.U./C.S.U. to form the next government will probably lose their political soul and end up with their core voters [Stammwähler] fleeing in droves after the bigger partner forces them to agree to break faith with their supporters and their political identity again and again. Yet, as an old S.P.D. politician is said to have said, opposition is crap [“Opposition ist Mist”].

The S.P.D. promised, swore, during the campaign that they would not form a grosse Koalition.

Update on 25 Sep 2013: The Greens are proposing their pals the S.P.D. as the C.D.U.’s coalition partner and the S.P.D. is proposing the Greens. A cartoon was published showing Angela Merkel saying, “Yoo hoo!” and the Greens and S.P.D. chairs scrambling up a tree to hide in the leaves. But the German constitution requires a coalition be formed by Oct. 22. And the S.P.D. has reason to fear its ~25% result would drop even lower if a new election were called.

Update on 26 Sep 2013: The S.P.D. is supposedly pushing to make the C.D.U. break a campaign promise before the S.P.D. breaks its campaign promise by forming a grosse Koalition with them. Before the election, the S.P.D. promised to raise taxes for the richest Germans, anathema for the C.D.U./C.S.U. (& F.D.P.). Now the S.P.D. is indicating they could and would make the C.D.U. raise some taxes on some rich people as a coalition precondition.

The Leftists party (Die Linken) was originally created by former East German politicians twenty years ago and now houses some apostate S.P.D. pols who felt the Social Democrats were trending too far to the right—especially after joining grosse-Koalition C.D.U. governments. If the socialistical S.P.D. would partner with the Leftists plus their traditional partner the Green party, they might form their own majorities and take over state and federal governments. But the S.P.D. oath never to work with the Leftists seems to be the one campaign promise they’ll keep.

None of the options available can be taken. The most logical solution, S.P.D. + Leftists + Greens, has been ruled out. The most harmful for German voters, a grosse Koalition with no opposition, looks the most likely. Democratic elimination of the most dishonest-seeming party brought about this impasse, which cannot be resolved without further vile treachery. The ensuing wriggling and oath-breaking will occur very publicly, under a high degree of light and attention by U.S. standards.

Update on 27 Sep 2013: Germany’s post-parliamentary election process, within which many people are discussing how to accomplish what seems obviously impossible. After 1) post-election party meetings behind closed doors [geschlossene Gespräche; Konvent], the Green party and the S.P.D. announced they are prepared to talk with the C.D.U. about forming a coalition in the 2) “sounding out” pre-coalition pre-negotiations phase [Sondierungsgespräche]. The S.P.D. chair said he wanted to compensate core voters for the party’s obvious willingness to break the no-grosse-Koalition promise, less than one week after the election, by involving the voters in the grosse Koalition decision in special ways. This almost sounds like hinting the S.P.D. might adopt Pirate Partystyle new technologies in addition to new communications and decision-making systems—if democratic software innovations can be trusted before resolution of the N.S.A./G.C.H.Q. spying that’s been revealed but not yet regulated. In fact, S.P.D. voter participation here would be limited to an up-or-down vote on any grosse Koalition agreement that’s negotiated, giving the S.P.D. comrades minimum input while placing maximum emphasis on the temptations of exiting the opposition, apparently also hoping to force S.P.D. voters to break the campaign promise too.

Update on 28 Sep 2013: “The Greens will make it with everyone,” complained one voter. The Green party is trying to bust out of its traditional coalition role of only partnering with the S.P.D. They want to re-emphasize their environmentalism and “critical accompaniment” of the Energiewende. Then, having strengthened their own political identity thus, they want to seriously consider partnering with everyone including the Leftists (Die Linken). The Greens say they’ll let the S.P.D. go first in negotiating about a coalition with the C.D.U. because, they said, if they negotiated in parallel the C.D.U. would play the two parties off against each other.

Somehow, the Greens also want to start sounding like they’re not telling people what to do, even though that’s how environmentalists work. They’re right however that a vacuum or opportunity has presented itself in Germany for politicians who figure out how to champion personal liberty, now that the <5% F.D.P. who claimed that was them is out of the picture, and the <5% Pirate Party is mostly out too. The German Pirate Party arose in part because the Green party was crewed by 1980’s types who distrusted technology, which is where serious individual liberty and privacy wars are being fought these days.

(Beh CON teh   geh FONG en shoft.)

 

Pädophilen

Pedophiles.

Apparently after the German Green party was founded in 1980 some people joined who wanted to decriminalize sex between children and adults. They joined committees and submitted platform proposals. It took a while before the Green party as a whole realized what was going on and that they were against it. They voted for party program language to fix the problem in 1989. One sentence submitted by a committee in Göttingen for example in 1981 that looks innocuous and was buried in a thickish booklet was in fact intended to strip away those protections from children, and party head Jürgen Trittin gave his approval to that booklet as a young man.

§§174 and 176 of the Criminal Code [StGB, Strafgesetzbuch] are to be understood such that only use or threat of violence or misuse of a dependent relationship shall be punished.

A year ago, the Green party said, they tasked the Göttingen Institute for Democracy Research [Göttinger Institut für Demokratieforschung] with studying, evaluating and reporting on the problem. The two researchers started publishing their findings in German newspapers and giving interviews about it the week before Germany’s national election on September 22, 2013.

In their taz.de article, the researchers noted that a youth organization branch of the F.D.P. political party also called for decriminalization of sex between children and adults in 1980.

In 2012 the newly founded German Pirate Party started discussing how to deal with the misogyny expressed by some of its members.

(Paid oh FEEL en.)

Fluorwasserstoff, Ammoniumhydrogendifluorid, Natriumfluorid

Hydrogen fluoride, ammonium hydrogen difluoride, sodium fluoride.

What did your country’s companies export to the Assads’ Syria that could have been used to hurt civilians?

These are three of the chemicals German companies exported tons of to Syria between 2002 and 2006 that could have been used to make chemical weapons, at a time when the Assad regime was known to have a chemical weapons program.

The German government’s Ministry for the Economy [Bundeswirtschaftsministerium] drew up and published a list of such chemicals, including quantities, dates and prices, that could have been used to manufacture chemical weapons and for which the government issued export permits, in response to a question submitted by the Leftists party (Die Linken) and by Bundestag member and former U.N. weapons inspector Jan van Aken (Leftists) in particular. The government supplied this information one week before a national election.

Update on 30 Sep 2013: After the national election the government supplied more information. German companies were issued export permits for “dual-use” chemicals even until 2011, after the Assads were killing peaceful Syrian protestors. From 1998 to 2011, ~300 tons of such chemicals, which could be used for civilian or military purposes, were delivered from Germany to Syria. Klaus Barthel (S.P.D.) criticized the Bundeswirtschaftsministerium for, among other things, phased provision of the truth. The Bundeswirtschaftsministerium said they reviewed the investigation and remain convinced of the plausibility of the civilian uses cited, but the C.D.U. said plausibility is not enough when dealing with regimes like the Assads’. Reporter Arnd Henze said Germany has to be especially careful in these matters because the world knows that chemical weapons were produced in Libya and Iraq “with German support.”

On 01 Sep 2013 it was announced that Britain had issued licenses to export sarin gas precursors potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride to Syria in January 2012, ten months into the uprising against the Assad family. The export licenses were revoked in July 2012 after the European Union agreed to sanctions against the Assad regime. Prime Minister David Cameron (Tory)’s office initially responded by saying the U.K. has the the most rigorous export control regime, with a computer system called C.H.I.E.F., which is how they know that though the export permits were issued at that unfortunate time no chemicals were exported under the permits. Later it was indicated this was not so. Following up, Business Secretary Vince Cable (LibDem) subsequently reported that other licenses to export sarin precursor chemicals to Syria were issued by previous U.K. governments between 2004 and 2010 (the year Mr. Cameron’s Conservative-LibDem government came to power).

Update on 09 Jul 2014: U.K. foreign minister William Hague sent a written statement to the British parliament announcing that British companies had probably exported hundreds of tons of chemicals to Syria in the 1980’s that could have been used to make chemical weapons such as sarin and VX.

(FLEW or voss ah SHTOFF,   a MOAN ee oom hee dro GAIN dee FLEW oar EAT,   NOT ree oom FLEW oar EAT.)

Abwicklung von Hypo Alpe Adria

Winding up, closing down, resolution, clearing, of Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria. The E.U. Commission appeared to give its permission to break up the struggling bank on 02 Sep 2013. The European competition authority still had to give its approval.

In 2009 the country of Austria took back HGAA from the BayernLB, Bavarian Landesbank, and nationalized it. Hypo continued losing money. By 2012 Austrian taxpayers had given the bank 3 billion euros bailout, but still it needed ~800 million euros in the first half of 2013 and a projected 700 million in the second half, with expectations of ~5 billion euros more required by 2017. The plan is now to sell the Austrian branch to a British investor in Q4 2013, close the Italian branch and sell off the other southern European banks (250 branch offices employing 4300 workers) by 2015.

The reporting repeating the numbers cited by the Austrian finance ministry varies, and it’s hard to match up the cited numbers with the years given. Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter (Ö.V.P.) said the numerical uncertainty is partially because they don’t know how much they’ll get in the sale of the southern European branches. They also want to move HGAA’s failed loans, worst paper and unsellable divisions “away” into a “separate Abwicklungseinheit,” a separate clearing unit, also called an “Abbaubank,” literally breakdown or decomposition bank but apparently called in English a “restructuring unit,” “separate from the core bank.” Without the Abbaubank device, Austrian taxpayers might be on the hook for 16 billion euros, another Austrian finance ministry number, to wind down the HGAA.

We know a bit about what happened under Carinthian and Bavarian management of HGAA. What happened in Italy?

Austria will be holding a parliamentary election on 29 Sep 2013.

Update on 14 Mar 2014: It’s been decided that the Hypo Alpe Adria group will be wound down as a “bad bank,” into a “deregulated, private-economy-organized company” said Austrian finance minister Michael Spindelegger. About 18 billion euros in bad paper will be moved into this vehicle. The decision will increase Austria’s national debt >5%, from ~75% to >80% of the country’s gross national product. HGAA’s subsidiary banks in Italy and the Balkans are to be sold as quickly as possible. It should take the bad bank about a decade to finish closing down the organization, only after which the true costs will be known, said a social minister who will no longer be social minister a decade from now.

Update on 17 Jun 2014: The Austrian state of Carinthia owes ~12 billion euros because of guarantees it made for Hypo Alpe Adria. Carinthia’s annual budget is apparently ~1 billion euros.

A week ago Austria’s cabinet passed a special law that said Carinthia will no longer be responsible for all the bank’s debt that it has guaranteed. This should save the state ~800 million euros while stirring up a lot of trouble for Austria.

Austria’s federal government is deliberately avoiding bankruptcy for the troubled bank because they fear it would pull the state of Carinthia into bankruptcy. The cabinet passed this “special law” haircutting non-first-tranche holders of HAA debt, whose riskier tranche under normal circumstances would only come into play after a bankruptcy. The Green party said they should just declare the bank bankrupt and work out fair haircuts for all. Carinthia’s most important services such as day care centers and hospitals are mandated by law, said the Greens, so the bank’s creditors wouldn’t be able to pull much money out of the state government. “These investors have not earned the protection of the taxpayers.”

(OB vick loong   fon    HIPPO   I’ll pay   ODD ree ah.)

Themenklau

“Issues thievery.” Opposition parties propose new laws and reforms that are helpful good ideas, the ruling coalition steals the ideas and writes the legislation, the opposition criticizes that it doesn’t go far enough, everyone votes to pass the bill and voters benefit. It appears ruling parliamentary coalitions especially like to steal opposition parties’ best ideas during election years.

(TÆ men cl ow!)

Gitarrengeplätscher und Wackelkamera

“Rippling guitar music and shaky cameras,” a critique of one party’s advisors’ decisions for their Bundestag campaign ads this year. First their attempt to make a celebrity “personality” more important than a party’s program, and now that: sentimental background music and silly shots to obscure the lack of content.

(Git ARR en geh PLETSCH ah   oont   VOCK ell com eh RAH.)

Ellenbogen und Solidarität

 

“Elbows and solidarity,” this year’s Hessian S.P.D. candidate’s description of how his party will fight to win the Hessian state election occurring simultaneously with the federal Bundestag parliamentary election on 22 Sep 2013. The C.D.U. manages to win the state of Hesse rather consistently.

(Ellen BO gen   oont    zoh lee dar ee TATE.)

Unausgegorenes Sammelsaurium

Half-cocked collectionoctopus, great mild pejorative for some political parties’ last minute policy proposal dumps these past few months. News reports about which could all start with the ultimately disparaging “# weeks before the September 22 election…”, which has the potential to discredit almost any statement following it.

(Oo now ss geh GORE en ess   zom mel z OW! ree oom.)

Unionsrecht

“Union law” in Germany apparently means European Union law and not the rules of the conservative Christian Democratic union consisting of the national-level C.D.U. + the Bavarian state C.S.U. This distinction became clear during a television news discussion about the legality of C.S.U. head Horst Seehofer’s strange and very unsettling* campaign promise to create a toll for foreigners driving on Bavarian roads. Mr. Seehofer’s political party, which has ruled Bavaria since 1946, claimed they did a survey that found 88% of Bavarians disliked foreigners enough to support the C.S.U.’s proposed toll or “Ausländer-Maut.” C.S.U. proponents also said the country of Austria introduced a similar foreigners fee and why wasn’t that illegal but their state-level proposal is.

The Bavarian state election (for the Landestag, state parliament) was Sunday, 15 Sep 2013, one week before Germany’s Bundestag election.

During the campaign—mercifully short by U.S. standards—the C.S.U. party promised Bavarian voters it would refuse to join a German federal government coalition after the 22 Sep 2013 federal election if their federal partners said they couldn’t tax foreigners. But it’s hard to believe the C.S.U. could afford to exit that coalition. Bavaria is said to have the best schools in Germany, so it’s hard to believe Bavarian voters would believe the C.S.U. when they promised to exit that coalition, either. The threat didn’t work on Chancellor Merkel (C.D.U.), on the surface at least. During what was apparently the only formal evening debate between the two largest parties’ candidates, she said on national television that the C.S.U.’s proposed foreigner-specific state road toll was not going to happen.

But the whole point appears to have been to talk about taxing foreigners in Bavarian beer tents, because Horst Seehofer persisted in doing that even after Angela Merkel’s quiet and very public “no.” Mr. Seehofer’s challenger, Munich mayor Christian Ude (S.P.D.), called it “eine bewusste Irreführung der Bevölkerung,” a deliberate confusion or leading-into-crazy-country of the people.

* Not only do proposals like this sound like they could grow racism, but as we now know since the Snowden trove revelations there are several ways the new toll could be used to spy on foreigners.

(Oo n YO nz wrecked.)

Sehr beeindruckend

“Very impressive.” The excellent foreign correspondent Dietmar Ossenberg reporting from Tahrir Square on the night of July 1, only a few hours after the Egyptian military issued its 48-hour ultimatum for anti-Morsi and pro-Morsi protesters to find a compromise.

When asked what would happen Monday night, Ossenberg said he didn’t know.

“I don’t know. Peacefully, I hope. It is enormously impressive to see how once more hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating in this square before the [?] palace, and really very peacefully. Despite the images we just saw of the Muslim Brotherhoods’ main headquarters. The people here are not letting themselves be provoked. They talked beforehand with young people, they practically did training for this, to make sure these mass demonstrations would happen peacefully. So it is really very impressive… We have experienced many historical moments here, but this is really very moving. A speaker for the Egyptian military said today that these are the biggest demonstrations, and peaceful demonstrations, that Egypt has ever seen. That is true in fact, and simultaneously an indication of what side the military will put itself on. I think the erosion process of the power of the Muslim Brotherhood has started. Today we had eleven resignations of ministers, which Morsi refused. But that doesn’t mean anything because these ministers will no longer be carrying out their official business. From the provinces, five provinces, there were reports that the governors’ offices are closed. So people are refusing to follow the central government. So I think the Muslim Brotherhood will have to pivot. They will have to try to approach the people with a compromise. That could be a referendum, for example, which was under discussion tonight in the Muslim Brotherhood, a referendum about whether or not Morsi should stay in office. But I can’t imagine that would impress the people demonstrating in any way, shape or form. So I think that within 48 hours we will not have an agreement, that the military will take over power in a soft coup d’état, perhaps for a transition period, to then together with all the parties, as the Minister of Defense said today, form a type of round table to define a road map for the future. I can’t imagine after the last 48 hours that Egypt’s history is not about to be rewritten again. The sole hope remaining for us, however, is that this happens relatively peacefully. But this year the army promised they would try to prevent violent conflicts. However, one must respond to that by saying that the people here relied once before on promises made by the military and were bitterly disappointed.”

(Z air   beh EYE n drook end.)

Volksbegehren gegen Studiengebühren

“Referendum against tuition fees.” The states run the universities in Germany. Usually they charge very low tuition fees by US standards or university is free and students just have to pay registration and student union fees and buy subsidized cheap universal health insurance (includes dental and medicine). After some states experimented with introducing tuition fees in the 1990’s, almost all the states unintroduced them except Bavaria and Lower Saxony. In 2012, Bavarian citizens collected the 25,000 signatures required for a referendum to let people vote directly to eliminate college tuition throughout the state.

Though Bavarians have the Volksbegehren option, it’s hard to pass a referendum in practice. In 1968 the Bavarian state parliament (Landtag) made conditions for passing direct referenda much tougher, reducing the time frame from four weeks to two, banning public solicitation of signatures in the street or door-to-door, while requiring signatures of 10% of all registered voters for passage and, writes Hans Herbert von Arnim, making mail-in ballots much more difficult [von Arnim, Die Selbstbediener, pp. 162–3].

Before the voters had a chance to decide on the anti-tuition referendum however, Bavaria’s Interior Ministry (CSU) filed a complaint against it with the Bavarian constitutional court or Verfassungsgerichtshof in Munich saying the referendum was unconstitutional because it would affect Bavaria’s budget. The Bavarian constitutional court has interpreted the state’s so-called “budget caveat” or Haushaltsvorbehalt to mean that referenda that would cost money, i.e. most of them, can be kept from a vote if they will impact the state budget in a way that isn’t slight [von Arnim, p. 173].

Bavaria’s supreme or constitutional court is a bit unusual in Germany [von Arnim, p. 27] and possibly one reason voters might be glad to have a direct referendum option. Federal German constitutional court judges have to be elected by a 2/3 parliamentary majority, to prevent judiciary dominance by one party; they have a 12-year term; and they cannot be reelected. Bavarian constitutional court judges have been mainly elected by the CSU party, because it has governed the state since 1946; they have an eight-year term; and they can be reelected an unlimited number of times.

In October 2012, the Bavarian constitutional court decided eliminating college tuition would not affect the state budget and allowed the referendum to proceed. In January 2013 the referendum passed with over 1.3 million signatures. In response, the Bavarian Landtag or state parliament quickly passed a law eliminating college tuition on 24 Apr 2013.

(FOKES beg AIR en   GAY gen   SHTOO dee en geh BOO ren.)

“Wer als möglicher Papst ins Konklave geht, kommt als Kardinal wieder raus”

“S/he who goes into the conclave as a possible Pope, comes back out as a cardinal.” Old Vatican rule of thumb.

(VAIR   alss   meg lichh err   POPST   inss   con CLAVA   gate,   come t   alss   car din AL   vee der   rrrrauss.)

Abzockerei

“Ripoffery,” word used in an exciting Swiss voters’ referendum to limit bonuses, and not just in banks! In Switzerland. The election is Sunday, 3 Mar 2013. Proponents of the referendum want performance-based salaries and for executives’ compensation to have to be approved by shareholders, the actual owners of the companies concerned. Pro-referendum posters say things like “Compensation excesses harm pension funds + Swiss old-age and survivors insurance + the people’s economy.”

(Ob TSOCK err eye.)

Sperrminorität

“Blocking minority.” If, for example, Bersani’s (center-left) coalition gains control of Italy’s House but Berlusconi’s (center-right-f’tang-f’tang-biscuit-barrel) coalition wins enough votes in the Senate, Italy will be ungovernable because Bunga-Bunga will have the ability to block legislation. Hopefully, Bersani and Monti, perhaps even with television comedian Grillo’s help, will gain enough seats to call for another election, which will be blessed with better turnout. Spiegel-Online ventured to note that the new parliament might consider passing some electoral reforms before the new election, to stabilize the Italian government and make Italian politicians seem more reliable to voters.

(SHPERRRM ee nore ee tate.)

Rattenfängerei

“Rat catchery,” how departing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti referred this week to billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi’s ridiculous campaign promise to pay voters’ real estate taxes out of his own pocket, hot air intended to encourage poorly-informed people to hitch their wagons not to a 21st-century democratic system but to a strong-seeming man no matter what ethics he displays.

(ROTTEN feng err EYE.)

Minister für Nationale Aussöhnung

Syria’s Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs responded positively on 12 Feb to the Syrian opposition-in-exile’s 10-Feb offer of dialog, agreeing to direct talks if they might result in elections in Syria.

(Min EASTER   fir   ow! ss LEN dish eh   ow! ss ZÖ noong.)

“Weltbürger, Wutbürger oder Passivbürger”?

World citizens, fury citizens or passive citizens“? 30 Jan is the anniversary of Hitler’s lawful accession to power via structural weaknesses in Germany’s first democratic government, known as the Weimar Republic. Discussion and analysis of whether Germany’s current democracy is structurally strong enough to resist international and national erosion factors included the commentary that a democracy requires sufficient numbers of democratic citizens who participate in it. Former Volkswagen C.E.O. Carl Hahn also said that citizens who travel and see non-democracies for themselves will prefer democratic governments to the alternatives, and that the best stability for a democracy depends on how well it educates and communicates values to the next generation.

(VELT burgher,   VOOT burgher   ode er   poss EVE burgher?)

Zukunftspartei

“Future Party,” the German translation of former journalist Yair Lapid’s “There is a Future” centrist political party Yesh Atid that did well in Israel’s recent election because of voters’ concerns about economic issues.

(TSOO koonfts part eye.)

Leihstimmen

“Loaned votes.” In parliamentary elections, where voters get a primary vote and a secondary vote, voters have more ways to demonstrate dissatisfaction. They can “loan” a vote to their habitual large party’s current or proposed smaller coalition partner party, for example, to maintain the status quo—by keeping the current coalition government in power—while ensuring there are at least some statistical consequences after bad policy. By strengthening minor parties, a loaned vote can have the additional advantage of preventing the two largest parties from forming a ruling coalition (a so-called “grosse Koalition“) during which parliamentary opposition is notoriously insufficient.

(LYE shtimmin.)

Grossspenden

“Large donations,” in this case business donations to political parties exceeding 50,000 euros. Private donations to Germany’s political parties are low by U.S. standards and have been decreasing since 2002, though they still spike in election years. Of the reported large donations of this type from 2002 until 2012, 45.2% went to Angela Merkel’s CDU, 21.4% interestingly went to the CDU’s Bavarian sister party the CSU (a state party that manages to hold power at the national level), 17.0% to the FDP and 10.8% to the SPD. The Greens and Leftists are calling for reforms mandating that private political donations go to individuals and not parties, and capping them at 100,000 euros.

Update on 10 Aug 2013: The Bundestag published a list of Q1 + Q2 2013 “large donations” >50,000 euros by political party:
CDU 600,000 euros, SPD 290,000 euros; FDP 130,000 euros, and no large donations were listed for the Green party or Leftists (Die Linken).

The Bundestag website enables easy comparison to their large donation lists from previous years.
Q1 + Q2 2012: CDU 267,000 euros, CSU 141,000 euros, SPD 259,000; FDP 59,000 euros.

Update on 16 Oct 2013: Three major Bavarian Motor Werks [BMW] shareholders each made a large donation of ~200,000 euros to the C.D.U. party on 09 Oct 2013. The political donations were properly reported. However, at about the same time the German government (C.D.U./C.S.U. + a new coalition partner t.b.d.) made the unusual move of blocking stricter carbon dioxide standards for car exhaust under discussion in Brussels. The C.D.U. denied the two events were connected.

Update on 17 Oct 2013: The C.D.U.’s Bavarian state sister party the C.S.U. also received a relatively large large donation after the recent Bundestag campaign: half a million euros from the Bavarian Metal and Electronics Industry Association [Verband der Bayerischen Metall- und Elektroindustrie]. Süddeutsche.de reported that the C.S.U. received the donation on Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013, and reported it on Thursday, 17 Oct.

(GROSS shpen den.)

Lavieren

Tacking, in sailing. Nautical metaphor used by the SPD candidate running against Angela Merkel in the upcoming German parliamentary election—his background is in ocean-oriented northern Germany. When pressured about unlikely coalition partners such as the libertarianesque FDP or Merkel’s CDU/CSU, Peer Steinbrück insisted he “would not tack” and said the SPD would only form a coalition with the Greens.

(Love EAR en.)

Wahl-O-Mat

A software app available online since 2002 (and offline since 2004) from the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, BPB) to help people understand and select from among the multiple political parties’ platforms. Voters answer ca. 30 questions about their political views and are then shown which party platforms most closely match their thoughts and feelings. Based on “StemWijzer” software from the Netherlands that was modified by Politikfabrik, the Wahl-O-Mat software was used 9 million times between 2002 and 2009, for the federal Bundestag parliamentary/chancellor elections, some but not all state elections and recently the European parliamentary elections. Users can search the archive for historical versions of the Wahl-O-Mat software, to see how it changed as the parties’ positions changed over time. Apparently there’s a similar app available for USA elections at www.isidewith.com.

When answering Wahl-O-Mat questions, you can choose “Agree,” “Neutral” or “Disagree,” or skip the question without responding. You can choose to have some questions be counted twice, indicating their topics are more important to you. At the end of the survey, you must select up to eight political parties that will be evaluated for you. No more than eight parties will be evaluated. This and other issues have generated healthy debate about the app over the years.

The Federal Agency for Civic Education (BPB) is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year; it was founded to support West Germany’s new democratic government after the Nazi era and appears to be a good political resource for school students.

(VALL oh matt.)

Geklonte Identität

Cloned identity.” After receiving a surprisingly low percentage of the vote in October 2012’s direct election—the first direct election, in which all party members were eligible to vote, of chancelor-level candidates in a German political party—Green chair Claudia Roth was reconfirmed as party leader at the Green political convention on 17 Nov 2012. In her speech before the convention vote she said, “You must decide whether I’m the right one, as I am, with corners and edges. Because I don’t want to change that. And I don’t like cloned identity.” An agreeable surprise to hear words like that from a politician under duress.

The Greens want to improve their social issues platform. Spiegel-Online listed some of the other decisions reached and ongoing discussions at their recent convention (status as of 18 Nov 2012, when the convention wasn’t yet over): 100% renewable energy by 2030, no armed drones in the military, stronger rights for asylum seekers, labeling for vegetarian food, torture to be criminalized per se in the penal code (?), a motion approved against discrimination of Sinti and Roma; discussion about religious circumcision, debate of European policy.

(Geh CLONE teh   eeee DENT ee TATE.)

Antragsbuch

“Book of petitions.” On 11 Nov 2012 German Pirate Party members voted online through a catalog of over 1400 proposals that had been submitted as prospective party platform planks. The topics ran the gamut, not unexpectedly. Spiegel-Online wrote that the party is hoping to “distill” a program from this process, and that the worst that could happen would be if the top ~50 suggestions were for minor issues rather than major GPP points such as electronic privacy and copyright. It is hoped this will also take care of “white areas of the map” for which the GPP has not had enough of a position before now, e.g. “employment, social and economic policy, electricity prices and building new housing.”

Schwarze Null

“The black zero,” meaning a balanced budget. The federal government is saying it’s possible Germany may manage to have a budget with no deficit spending as early as 2014, although this may not be as true after the upcoming German election.

(SHVORTS eh   NOOL.)

Causa Strepp, Causa Horst Seehofer

“The Strepp Affair,” “The Case of Horst Seehofer.” The Bavarian state branch of Angela Merkel’s CDU party insists on remaining separate from the general CDU and calls itself the CSU. Horst Seehofer is in charge. The CSU has been posturing in national politics for an upcoming state election. Last Sunday, CSU spokesperson Hans Michael Strepp called the public broadcasting ZDF television station and said he’d heard they were going to broadcast a news report about the rival Bavarian SPD’s recent festive nomination of their top candidate, Christian Ude. Strepp told ZDF that neither the public broadcasting ARD nor the public broadcasting news and documentaries channel Phoenix was planning to report on the Bavarian SPD’s state convention and far be it from Strepp to want to tell them their business but he wanted to give them food for thought that there could be discussions afterward if ZDF went it alone. ZDF interpreted this as exerting influence and broadcast the report anyway. Then they broadcast a report about Strepp’s phone call.

At first, the CSU said nothing bad had happened. At noon on Thurs. 25 Oct 2012, Horst Seehofer announced that Spokesperson Strepp had resigned because Strepp had said he hadn’t exerted any influence on ZDF and the ZDF disagreed with that statement and Seehofer could not clarify this situation. The CSU’s position is now that Strepp acted entirely alone. In a lively parliamentary discussion after Seehofer’s announcement of Strepp’s resignation, Bavarian M.P.’s cast a lot of aspersions. CSU General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt has now been dragged into it because he obfuscated rather than clarified and because people find it credible that he might have given Strepp the incredible order to make the call. The Bavarian SPD demanded that Seehofer and Dobrindt resign their seats on ZDF management boards (!).

German Green party member Jürgen Trittin has demanded that all politicians holding government office resign from public broadcasting channels’ supervisory boards. Trittin said the Greens have been demanding this for years, and that a gray zone forms where government and media entangle. Trittin also said this is what you get when people have been in power longer than Fidel Castro.

(COW zah   SHTREP,   COW zah   Horst   ZAY hoaf er.)

Das bürgerliche Lager

The “burghers camp,” the “middle class position,” was being invoked in Stuttgart’s recent politics much as the “center” is in the USA. After Stuttgart’s mayoral election on 21 Oct 2012, the Green candidate had 52.9% of the vote and the “nonparty” (CDU, Merkel-supported) candidate 45.3%. The Green party is now in charge of Stuttgart for the first time, with an absolute majority (!), after 40 years of CDU mayors in various coalitions. Part of the voters’ general anger was in response to last year’s “Stuttgart 21” controversy in which the CDU insisted on going through with expansion of the main train station at the cost of parts of its historic building, trees in the castle park, public access to the castle park for ten years of construction, public land sold for development and cost overruns exceeding the originally promised price of EUR 200 million to the current estimate of EUR 4 billion and possibly even EUR 18 billion because a 2003 report found the area too unstable for an underground train station. I also wonder about the archeological losses incurred by digging next to a castle site that’s over a thousand years old.

New Oberbürgermeister Fritz Kuhn (Green Party) said, “This assumption that the burghers camp is the CDU and FDP is ~[as dead wrong as it’s possible to be wrong in a very wrong way]. We too are in the burghers camp, but with a progressed understanding of the middle classes. And today’s success is actually the success of a long-term strategy that’s been ongoing for years.”

Update on 12 Dec 2012: Stuttgart 21 is now estimated to cost 6.8 billion euros (but only if it  finishes in 2021 as planned, &c.). The head of Deutsche Bahn, the German Rail operator, has now alleged that canceling the project will cost 2 billion euros. But, says Spiegel-Online, he has also said for some time that Stuttgart 21 would only be worth carrying out if its costs did not exceed 4.7 billion euros.

Update on 21 Nov 2013: An expert opinion report found that ex-governor of Baden-Württemberg Stefan Mappus (C.D.U.) overpaid by ~780 million euros when he bought into private energy utility company EnBW in 2010, negotiating a shares purchase package for 4.7 billion euros. The report was commissioned by the Stuttgart prosecutors’ office.

Update on 07 Mar 2014: Stuttgart prosecutors are now investigating ex-governor Stefan Mappus for his role in the police beatdown of the Stuttgart 21 protests. They are examining whether Mr. Mappus lied, while not under oath, when he told the state parliament’s investigating committee that he’d never exerted any influence on the government’s counterprotest measures, that he merely gave police moral support during visits and meetings. Top police officials and their documents have now indicated that the governor made “rigid instructions” during the protests, including telling police to use water cannons. ~130 demonstrators and ~30 police officers were injured during the events that ensued on 30 Sep 2010. Mr. Mappus’s hands-off claim was supported by the head of police at the time, Siegfried Stumpf, who said he alone bore responsibility for the decisions and their consequences. Now other top officials have said Mr. Mappus told police, “Bring the bulldozers in. If you won’t do it, I’ll get police from another state.” Mr. Mappus denies this and has filed a lawsuit for defamation [üble Nachrede].

Update on 05 Aug 2014: The castle park is gone. Digging started on the huge Stuttgart 21 underground train station even though experts say a canal running through the site will cause problems. Deutsche Bahn will have to pump out groundwater but only has a partial permit to do so. Also, Deutsche Bahn still doesn’t have an approved fire protection concept. The latter issue ended up costing the Berlin-Brandenburg airport years and billions of euros, with still no solution in sight.

ZDF heute journal reported that a new fire safety concept had to be developed for the underground train station after requirements were set higher in 2010 and after a stress test showed more passengers would be using the facility than the planners had calculated. Now what looks like fire escape stairs will be built, three on each platform. One problem there is that there will be only 2.05 meters of space on either side of these sets of stairs, bottlenecking masses of rail passengers. The founder of a “Wikireal” fact-checking portal told ZDF that Deutsche Bahn has said two meters isn’t enough space even in small train stations. Deutsche Bahn’s Stuttgart 21 spokesman said there were no bottlenecks in the planned train station.

The new fire safety concept was supposed to be approved in June 2014 but the authorities had questions, said Deutsche Bahn’s Stuttgart 21 spokesperson.

(Doss   BERR gur lichh eh   LOG er.)

Wahlrecht

“Voting law.” The Bundestag is debating an overhaul of Germany’s electoral system. On 17 Oct 2012, Spiegel reported one issue was that the reforms currently under discussion might increase the size of the Bundestag to 700 M.P.’s (Spiegel-Online, “Bigger Than North Korea,” saying Germany would have the world’s second-largest parliament after China). Electoral reforms were necessitated by the Federal Constitutional Court’s decision in July 2012 that parts of the current law were unconstitutional, particularly with regard to Überhangmandate (which will be balanced out by proportional extra seats for the other parties). If a final agreement is reached rapidly, the new law could be in effect by Christmas 2012.

Update on 21 Feb 2013: The Bundestag reached an agreement on the new election rules. Überhangmandat seats will be canceled out by Ausgleichsmandat, compensation mandate, seats.

(VALL wrecked.)

Überhangmandate

“Overhang mandates,” overhang seats. Unusual parliamentary seats resulting from Germany’s two-vote election system. With their first vote, burghers choose a candidate. With their second vote, a political party. If a party has more direct candidates elected in a district than the seats they would have won by percentage, the party can still retain the directly elected excess candidates as Überhangmandate.

According to ZDF heute journal reporting on 25 July 2012, after Angela Merkel’s government’s recent electoral reforms there were an unprecedented 24 overhang seats in the subsequent election, a new record, and all belonged to Angela Merkel’s ruling party CDU/CSU. The Federal Constitutional Court has now declared the recent reforms imperfect and in need of revision, during which there will presumably be substantially more debate and resistance from the opposition, who now say these reforms were in fact rather inconsistent and hastily pushed through the legislative process.

In future, the Constitutional Court said, a maximum of only 15 overhang seats will be permissible.

Update on 21 Feb 2013: The Bundestag reached an agreement on the new election rules. Überhangmandat seats will be canceled out by Ausgleichsmandat, compensation mandate, seats.

(OO ber hong mon DOT eh.)

Markttransparenzstelle

The new “Market Transparency Office,” under the auspices of the German Federal Cartell Authority. The MTO is intended to gather and evaluate data from electricity companies and especially gas stations to ensure there is no price fixing. These data will not be shared with the public. It is not clear whether this new office will be functional or grandstanding.

Update on 12 Sep 2013: Starting today, drivers will have access to the price data ~13,000 German gas stations have been sending to the federal cartel authority [Bundeskartellamt] since 31 Aug 2013. The bundled data are forwarded to several phone apps and “registered consumer protection centers” or “consumer portals” drivers can use to compare gas station prices in real time; price changes are updated to the market transparency office every five minutes. Beta testing is scheduled to end 01 Dec 2013.

The following consumer portals have been approved for this so far:

http://www.clever-tanken.de

http://www.spritpreismonitor.de

http://mehr-tanken.de

http://www.ADAC.de

http://tanken.t-online.de

Spiegel.de reported another eight “information services” have been approved to help share the price data with consumers and another hundred have applied for approval.

The Green party called this a placebo office, criticizing inter alia that it does not fix inflationary pricing malheurs committed by the refineries (which have the same ownership as some large gas station chains in some cases). Also, it doesn’t cover all fuels or 100% of the market because the smallest gas stations can apply to be exempted. Germany has about 14,000 gas stations, so ~1000 are not participating as the service is launched.

(MARKED trons par ENTS shtell ah.)

Wutbürger

“Fury citizen,” a voter filled with frustration and anger at the bad decisions made over his or her head by elected and selected officials. This neologism was voted 2010’s German Word of the Year by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache e.V.

(VOOT burgher.)

nach der Wahl ist vor der Wahl

“After the election is before the election.” Pun on a famous soccer quote from Sepp Herberger, the German Yogi Berra.

(NOCK der vall isst fore der vall.)

volksnah

“Close to the folks.” Down-to-earth, has the common touch, popular, man of the people.

(FOKES nah.)

in der Menge baden

“To bathe in the quantity.” To surge into the crowd shaking hands, if you’re a politician, or surf the fans, if you’re a rock star.

(In der MENG ah BOD en.)

populistisches Getöse

Populist bluster, noisiness, roar, hullabaloo.

(POP oo LIST ish ess geh TUHZ ah.)

Kur

1) a cure, 2) a political election or 3) a stay at a health resort lasting from one to several weeks.

(Koor.)

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