You do have an excellent handle upon the various political situations that surrounds us as in Poland, Netherlands and Germany. My self I must confess as being some what neutral in many respects in as much to our political members, for a very good reason. In the case of an assignment that might fall to my self to conclude, might be one or more of such figures that might not be pleasant.
But here, we shall leave out the above.
With the collapse of the DDR has seen many changes in various situations in relation to Germany. One of these was with the DDR collapse, so also that of the SED, The Socialist Unity Party of Germany together. This then resulting with the PDS founding and subsequently merged in to the Left of today.
There is an emportant avenue of such new parties evolving such as we have seen relating to The AfD and Linksparty. These people are very close to the people and have an excellent understanding of those of East Germany. For even though it has been many years since the break up, the sentiments still are there of those times.
There though is a new situation that is evolving with Chancellor Angela Merkel, for she is tired after all these years as Mutti and as so, is creating a power vacume that many would enjoy to fill with their presence.
Poland, Netherlands and Germany are closer to my country and easier to understand for me than the USA or for instance South-Africa or the Middle-east which are further away. Of course for me the Netherlands and Germany are easier to understand than Poland which is further away. I can speak, read and write in Dutch and German. Better in Dutch than German of course, but still some basic German I know. The fact that I can't read, understand (listen to), and can't speak and write in Polish also makes my knowledge of Poland more limited than that of the Netherlands and Germany. Germany is just a few miles away for me. I live in the Middle east of the Netherlands, and the German influence can be heard in the local and regional dialects over here, and the fact that there are more German Expats, students, and partners of Dutch people (husbants, wives, girlfriends or boyfriends) over here than probably in the West, South-West and North of the Netherlands. Poland is therefor a litte bit closer to the USA, South-Africa and the Middle east for me, due to the language, cultural and social gap. The Iron curtain is gone, but not some old barrieres. My languages are Dutch, English and German. Know a litte bit of French and some Polish words, but unforunately can't make Polish sentences and know to little Polish to be able to make a conversation or understand for instance a Pole on the street when he or she would ask me the direction or would start a conversation.
From the other side Poland is easier reachable, Poland is more modern and prosperous than in the Communist times of the Polish Peoples Republic and more Poles speak foreign languages than in communist times. More young people speak English for instance, or other European languages since they have studied, worked and lived in other European countries with the Erasmus study exchange program, as Expats or as guestworkers (migrants). Due to to the fact that my mother has become so succesfuly integrated and assimilated, the distance became larger to Poland. My mother is a Dutch person with a Polish heritage in staid of a Polish migrant, expat or guestworker in the Netherlands.
I do have a certain handle upon the various political situations that surrounds us in the Netherlands and Germany, because I live in the North-West-European Germanic sphere of the Netherlands, Belelux and the Western part of Germany. The closest by is the state North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) and the Dutch-German Euregion in my area ( www.euregio.eu/en/about-euregio/vision ) and next to that the Euregion Rhine-Meuse-North (Rhein-Maas-Nord; euregio-rmn.de/de/home/ ) and the politico-economic union Benelux ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benelux / www.benelux.int/fr/ ). I understand Karl, that you have to be neutral and objective towards German politics and the internal affairs from a diplomatic and pragmatic point of view. I know that you have a Danish temper and a German training mindset and loyalty. The democratic and European natures of Dutch people, Germans, Danes, Poles, French people, Luxemburg people, Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians and Hungarians are not that different. We all want our soevereignity, autonomy, keep our national democracies as the centres of power in our nations, and European cooperation, but not a to powerful and dominant Brussels bureucracy and presidency.
There are political differences, but each people votes for it's own best interest and in their own country want to keep Freedom and Democracy. European cooperation is in the best interest of our all in the cases of a shared responsbibility for the European "external borders" and internal security with Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency), Europol, the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the General Court (EGC), the European Union Civil Service Tribunal and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The Warsaw Spire, housing Frontex's headquarters in Warsaw, Poland
We want to keep our independence, local, regional and national identities and are far away from other Europeans with other ethnicities, languages, cultures, customs, traditions, histories and heritages. Each European nation and people is focussed on itself, and thus it's self interest, self defence, and each nation has it's own financial economical, monetary, treasurey (tax and tarriffs), political, domestic (internal affairs), regional (close ties with neighbours), international, trade, security (safety) and tactical and strategic geo-political interests and affairs. The countries with colonial heritages will have other ties with certain regions of the world than the non-colonialist countries. France in the French speaking world, the UK in the English speaking world, Spain and Portugal in Southern-America, Central-America, the Mexican part of North-America, and in Africa and parts of Asia. The Netherlands have their old colonial ties to Indonesia, South-Africa, Suriname, the Dutch Antilles and of course and last but not least New York (New Amsterdam).
We Dutch are very close to Great-Britain (the United Kingdom) and the USA despite Brexit and Donald Trump. We are also close to Germany, Scandinavia, Belgium, Luxemburg and France. The internal European market is very imporant for our Import & Export sector, our large transport sector and our manufacturing companies, financial sector and our Multi-Nationals, large companies and middle big and smaller companies. We are traders, bankers, stock brokers, investors, farmers, food industry specialists, water management specialists and our known for our Dutch design and specific Dutch products. Things like sanctions against Russia are not only a loss factor for Dutch farmers and companies, but also for Polish farmers and Polish entrepreneurs who exported to the Russian market too.
What the result of Brexit will be for Europe as a continent and the EU we will have to see. A lot of British people will move to France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Especially people who voted Remain in London, Scotland, Liverpool and Manchaster. A small exodus is already taking place. A lot of British people live in France now. I don't know about the Netherlands.
The collapse of the DDR (East-Germany) was difficult for many 'Ossi's' (East-Germans). The Wessi's (West-Germans) had and have their opinion about the 'Ossi's', and the PDS, Linkspartei and Die Linke took advantage of that, because they know the mindset, mentality, upbringing, education, political system and affiliation of these East-Germans (Ossi's). Both former East-German communist party (SED; German: Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands; Socialist Unity Party of Germany) members, and members sof the East-German party youth movement FDJ (Freie Deutsche Jugend, Free German Youth), employees of the VEB's (Volkseigener Betrieb; The Publicly Owned Enterprise), the main legal form of industrial enterprise in East Germany and East-German citizens saw their economy collapse and their jobs disappearing. These Ossi's saw and see the 'good elements' of the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Democratische Republik) and remember the total employment and some state benefits they had as citizens. They might have forgotting the Prussian state socialism, the strict dogmatic Marxism Leninism, the total control of the Stasi (Staatssicherheitsdienst, SSD) and forced Marxist-leninist education and the one state party dictatorship of the SED. Many East-Germans long back for the social security of the DDR (East-Germany), the collectivism of that state and their shared East-German idenity which was a mix of German socialism, communism (Marxism-Leninism) and East-German state Patriotism. The Antithesis with West-Germany in particular and the West in General created their identity which was 'protected' by the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall ("The Antifascist Protection Wall";the Berlin wall) and the Iron Curtain between West-Germany and East-Germany.
Many Ossi's, East-German long for the Socialist East-German ruled by the communist SED party of Erich Honecker
The collapse of the DDR, the SED, The Socialist Unity Party and the VEB driven DDR economy and the policies of the Treuhandanstalt ("Trust agency") the agency which was created to reprivatize / privatize East German enterprises made many East-Germans (Ossi's) very frustrated, irritated and angry at their own government and the West-German authorities and West-Germans. I do remember the time of the discord and mental segregation between Ossi's and Wessi's in Eastern-Germany during the nineties. Both the post-communist PDS and the far right National democratic and Neo-Nazi NPD parties understood that DDR mentality of the Ossi's. Die Linke of today is a merger of these East-German post-communists with their SED/PDS heritage, and the far left wing of the Social Democrats in West-Germany, the Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (German: Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit – Die Wahlalternative, WASG) a left-wing German political party founded in 2005 by activists disenchanted with the ruling Red-Greencoalition government.
These new parties AfD and Die Linke (The Left) understand East-Germans (Ossi's), because their leaders were or are people with roots in East-Germany. At the start of the AfD you had the East-German politician Frauke Petry. Petry was born on 1 June 1975 to a chemist and an engineer in Dresden. She lived in Schwarzheide, Brandenburg, near Saxony until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, after which her family moved to Bergkamen in Westphalia. Frauke Petry has left the AfD, but she helped to built and grow the AfD for years. Alexander Gauland was born in 1941 in Chemnitz, a city that became part of East Germany in 1949 and was renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt. After graduating from high school in 1959, he fled as a refugee to West Germany. He studied political science and law at Marburg, where he also received his doctorate. But still Gauland will understand the mindset and mentality of the East-Germans who stayed in East-Germany and who long back to the DDR with their Ostweh and Ostalgie (Ostalgia).
Frauke Petry (born 1 June 1975), chaired the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party from 4 July 2015 to 29 September 2017. Most political scientists described Petry as a representative of the national conservative wing of that party. Petry is noted for her anti-Islam views, for her calls to ban minarets, and for arguing that German police should "use firearms if necessary" to prevent illegal border-crossings. She is a chemist by training and has a professional background as a businesswoman. On 12 October 2017, Petry announced that she would form a new party, called the Blue Party, which would provide a "reasonable conservative" agenda and seek to replicate the success of the Bavarian Christian Social Union. The Blue Party (German: Die blaue Partei) is a national-conservative political party in Germany that was founded on the initiative of the former leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), Frauke Petry, after she left the party following the 2017 federal election. The party presents itself as more moderate than the AfD, and aims to attract social conservatives, right-wing liberals and former AfD members to join the party. As of 22 October 2017, the party has one member in the Bundestag, one in the state parliament of Saxony and four members in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Alexander Eberhardt Gauland (born 20 February 1941) is a German politician, journalist and lawyer who has served as leader of the German political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the Bundestag since September 2017 and co-leader of the party since December 2017. He has been a Member of the Bundestag (MdB) since September 2017. Gauland was the party's co-founder and is its federal spokesman and the party leader for the state of Brandenburg.
These people indeed are very close to the people and have an excellent understanding of those of East Germany (DDR/GDR) due to the fact that they understand the differences between East and West and the more traditional and from one side nationalistic feelings and from the other side German socialist desires of the Ossi's (East-German people) and their longing for collectivism, and the safety of the DDR communist state social security program. All these years since the break up didn't erase memories, longing and thus Ostweh and Ostalgia. The sentiments were preserved in time (frozen or kept well) and are still present after all those years.
Karl, you are right in stating that Chancellor Angela Merkel is visibly tired after all these years as Mutti. In that power vacume of the exhausted Mutti or Großmutter ( ) a powerful West-German, Roman-Catholic, Modern, conservative and pragmatic Christian Democratic woman from Saarland will take over the power. I am talking about the present German minister of defence, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. She is an active Catholic and has served on the Central Committee of German Catholics. She is the second woman to hold the office of German defence minister.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer joined the CDU while still in high school in 1981. In 1984 she was elected to the city council of Püttlingen, and in 1985 became chairwoman of the city's CDU association. From 1985 to 1988 she was also a member of the regional board of the Young Union in Saarland. From 1991 to 1998 she served as a policy and planning officer for the CDU in Saarland under environment minister Klaus Töpfer. In 1998, Kramp-Karrenbauer replaced another member in the federal Bundestag, serving seven months before losing that seat in the national elections the same year. In 1999, she was an advisor to Peter Müller, then chairman of the CDU parliamentary group in the Landtag of Saarland and later Minister-President. That same year she became a chairwoman of the Women's Union.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Peter Müller
Minister and first minister, 1999–2018
Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected to the Landtag of Saarland in 1999. She served as Minister of the Interior in the government of Peter Müller; the first woman to hold that office in Germany. She took on more responsibilities in 2004, changed roles in 2007 following a cabinet reshuffle, becoming Minister of Education and again in 2009, becoming Minister of Labor in the so-called Jamaica coalition government. In 2008, she was elected chairwoman of the Kultusministerkonferenz. Throughout her time in state government, she also served at various times as minister responsible for women, sports, family, and culture. In the negotiations to form a coalition government following the 2009 federal election, Kramp-Karrenbauer was part of the CDU–CSU delegation in the working group on education and research policy, led by Annette Schavan and Andreas Pinkwart.
In 2011, after months of difficult negotiations with the coalition partners Free Democratic Party and The Greens, Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected Minister-President of the Saarland in a special session of parliament, replacing Müller, who resigned to become a judge at the Federal Constitutional Court. Shortly after, she ended the coalition and triggered an election, blaming the party for "dismantling itself" and arguing the three party coalition had lost the necessary "trust, stability, and capacity to act". Kramp-Karrenbauer and the CDU won the state election soon after, in what was widely regarded the first electoral test of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s crisis-fighting policy since the beginning of the European debt crisis; meanwhile, the FDP was ejected from the state parliament after taking just 1.2 % of the vote. Under Kramp-Karrenbauer’s leadership, the CDU won 40.7% of the vote in the 2017 state elections, up from 35.2% in 2012.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer Minister-President of the Saarland
While serving as Minister-President, Kramp-Karrenbauer, who speaks French, was also Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Germany for Cultural Affairs under the Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation between 2011 and 2014. She continued to be a member of the German-French Friendship Group that was set up by the upper chambers of the German and French national parliaments, respectively the Bundesrat and the Senate. Furthermore, as one of the state's representatives at the federal Bundesrat, she served on the Committee on Cultural Affairs, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Defence. Kramp-Karrenbauer was a CDU delegate to the Federal Convention to elect the president of Germany in 2012 and in 2017. She was also for a short time part of the CDU–CSU delegation’s leadership team in the negotiations to form a "grand coalition" following the 2013 federal elections. She again played a role in the negotiations to form a fourth coalition government under Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2018, leading a working group on education policy alongside Stefan Müller, Manuela Schwesig and Hubertus Heil.
As Minister-President of Saarland, Kramp-Karrenbauer promoted the French language, aiming to make the state fully bilingual in German and French and thus promote Saarland as a bicultural European region similar to neighbouring Luxembourg. While Saarland had rejoined Germany five years before Kramp-Karrenbauer's birth when a majority voted against becoming an independent state, it has a long history of association with France dating back to the late 18th century.
Secretary General of the CDU, 2018
In February 2018, Merkel nominated Kramp-Karrenbauer as the new secretary general of the CDU. She was confirmed at the CDU party conference on 26 February, securing 98.87% of the vote. As secretary general, she managed the party and oversaw its election campaigns. She also embarked on a major listening tour of the country, holding more than 40 meetings with local CDU associations and working on a new political manifesto for the party.
2018 CDU leadership election
In October 2018, following bad results for the CDU/CSU in state elections in Bavaria and Hesse, Chancellor Merkel announced she would not stand for re-election as party leader in the CDU convention at the end of the year, triggering a leadership election. Former Bundestag leader of the CDU and businessman Friedrich Merz jumped into the race immediately while Health Minister Jens Spahn and Kramp-Karrenbauer announced their bids shortly after. Kramp-Karrenbauer was perceived to be Merkel's chosen heir and a continuation of her style and centrist ideology while Merz was an old rival from Merkel's early days as party leader and was very open about his intention to move the party in a more conservative direction. Nevertheless the Chancellor did not state her preferences.
As the vote approached, opinion polls showed that Kramp-Karrenbauer was favoured by CDU voters and the general public alike. The contest was held on 7 December and after coming out on top in the first round, Kramp-Karrenbauer narrowly defeated Merz in a run-off, becoming the new leader of the CDU.
Leader of the CDU, 2018–present
In the immediate aftermath of her election, surveys showed an increase in the CDU's vote share, however, it was shortlived, as the first months of her tenure were characterized by a series of gaffes and, according to the press, a failure to connect with voters due to her shift to the right. In the run-up to the 2019 European Parliament election, which was seen as her first major electoral test, the CDU's campaign was embroiled by a row between the party and far-left YouTube personality Rezo. It was caused by a viral Youtube video posted by the YouTuber in which he called out the parties of the governing Grand Coalition (CDU/CSU and SPD) and urged viewers not to vote for them. Kramp-Karrenbauer reacted stating that the electoral law should be changed to prevent social media personalities like Rezo from influencing the voters' choice in the midst of a campaign. The statement was harshly criticized as an attack on freedom of expression and damaged the image of Kramp-Karrenbauer among young people. Shortly after, a Bloomberg report claimed that Chancellor Merkel thought that her successor wasn't up to the job, further hindering her popularity.
The European Elections resulted in the CDU's worst national showing ever, below thirty percent. After the underwhelming result, rumors emerged that some CDU politicians planned to shun Kramp-Karrenbauer and put up another Chancellor candidate for the next Bundestag election.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is perceived as a moderate or centrist Christian Democrat. She has been described as socially conservative, but on the CDU's left-wing in economic policy. She is regarded as more conservative than Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, in the German press, her often used nickname is "Mini-Merkel", reflecting both her size and political views.
Kramp-Karrenbauer promotes stricter immigration policies and opposes same sex marriage, having compared it to incest and polygamy. However, when the Mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz submitted a motion for a mandatory gender quota for supervisory boards to the Bundesrat in 2012, Kramp-Karrenbauer joined the state governments controlled by the Social Democrats (the SPD), voting in favour of the draft legislation; in doing so, she supported an initiative opposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governments controlled by the CDU.
Amid her party’s campaign for the 2013 federal elections, Kramp-Karrenbauer suggested Germany return to a top income tax rate of more than 53 percent, setting off a fierce debate in her party. In her view, Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schröder had gone too far by reducing the top rate from 53% to 42% in the 1990s. In May 2014, she was among leading members of Merkel’s CDU who called for reductions to offset fiscal drag—the automatic increases in the tax-take that occur as inflation and income growth push wage-earners further into their marginal higher tax-bracket.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder arrive for the presentation of Schroeder's biography on September 22, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The biography, called "Gerhard Schroeder - The Biography", is published by Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt and details Schroeder's rise from very modest origins to Germany's top political office. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder arrive for the presentation of Schroeder's biography on September 22, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The biography, called "Gerhard Schroeder - The Biography", is published by Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt and details Schroeder's rise from very modest origins to Germany's top political office.
When the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in favour of tax equality for same-sex couples in 2013, Kramp-Karrenbauer voiced her concerns about also granting full adoption rights for same-sex couples, stating: "The traditional family unit is the core of not only Germany but all nations". In 2015, she caused a public controversy by arguing that "if we open up [the definition of marriage] to become a long-term responsible partnership between two adults, then other demands can't be ruled out, such as a marriage between close relatives or between more than two people, or even marriage between humans and animals".
For the Berlin-Paris axis Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer would be good as a Chancellor who speaks French. Also the fact that she is more conservative than Merkel would gain her votes from AfD and some conservative CDU voters who stopped voting, being desillusionned by Angela Merkels lenient 'Wir Schaffen das' politics in the refugee crisis.
Kramp-Karrenbauer supported Angela Merkel's refugee policies and her decision to let migrants into Germany in 2015–2016, many fleeing wars in the Middle East, but demanded more toughness in some cases. In December 2017, Kramp-Karrenbauer remarked: "For unaccompanied minors, a binding age test should be introduced". She added: "Someone who has veiled his identity or destroyed papers must expect harsh consequences". According to her, data sources like mobile phones should be checked. Instead of carrying out deportations with commercial airplanes, it would be advisable to use their own aircraft if necessary. She demanded in November 2018 that after expulsion offenders must be refused re-entry for life, not only to Germany but also throughout the Schengen area and cited the 2018 gang rape in Freiburg as an example.
Kramp-Karrenbauer criticised German-supported Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that would allow Germany to effectively double the amount of gas it imports from Russia, saying that Nord Stream 2 "is not just an economic project but a political one". In January 2019, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell sent letters to German companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, threatening CAATSA sanctions. In response, Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that "the American ambassador operates in a, shall I say, somewhat unusual diplomatic manner."
Kramp-Karrenbauer has supported arms exports to Saudi Arabia, which has been waging war in Yemen and was condemned for massive human rights violations. Kramp-Karrenbauer accused the Social Democrats (SPD) of jeopardising German industry and jobs, saying that, with Germany's ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, "Germany is not very credible at the moment" in European security and defence policy and was "making common European projects practically impossible".
In German culture, Ostalgie (German: [ˌʔɔstalˈɡiː]) is nostalgia for aspects of life in Communist East Germany. It is a portmanteau of the German words Ost (east) and Nostalgie (nostalgia). Its anglicised equivalent, ostalgia (rhyming with "nostalgia"), is also sometimes used. In Germany it is also called DDR-Nostalgie.
As with other cases of Communist nostalgia, there are various motivations, whether ideology, nationalism, wistfulness for a lost sense of social status or stability, or even aesthetics or irony.
Soviet and GDR Memorabilia for sale in Berlin in 2006
Persisting differences in culture and mentality among the old East Germany and old West Germany are often referred to as the "wall in the head" ("Mauer im Kopf"). "Ossis" ("Easties") are stereotyped as racist, poor and largely influenced by Russian culture. "Wessis" ("Westies") are usually considered snobbish, dishonest, wealthy, and selfish. The terms can be considered disparaging.
In 2009, twenty years after the fall of the wall, a poll found that 22% of former East Germans (40% of under-25s) considered themselves "real citizens of the Federal Republic". 62% feel in a kind of limbo, no longer citizens of East Germany but not fully integrated into the unified Germany. Around 11% would have liked to have East Germany back. A 2004 poll found that 25% of West Germans and 12% of East Germans wished reunification had not happened.
Some East German brands have been revived, appealing to former East Germans who are nostalgic for the goods they grew up with. Brands revived in this manner include Rotkäppchen, which holds about 40% of the German sparkling wine market, and Zeha, the sport shoe maker that supplied most of East Germany's sports teams and also the Soviet Union national football team.
Rotkäppchen sparkling wine
Zeha sport shoes
Pornography and prostitution were outlawed in the GDR as forms of exploitation, and West Germans commonly believe that those who grew up in the GDR are more sexually inhibited than their western counterparts. Nonetheless, better access to higher education and jobs along with free abortion, contraception and generous family policies made East German women more active sexually than before. Another notable difference is the attitude towards naturism or FKK (short for Freikörperkultur) in German. While it existed in both East and West, only in the East was it a mass cultural phenomenon in which almost everybody participated. This can still be seen at beaches of former East Germany compared to their West German counterparts.
Maay 1986: Dozens of Freikörperler take a sunbath at the Müggelsee (Müggel lake) in East Berlin. Foto: Thomas Uhlemann/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa
More children are born out of wedlock in eastern Germany than in western Germany. In 2009, in eastern Germany 61% of births were to unmarried women, while in western Germany 27% were. The states of Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had the highest rate of birth outside wedlock, each with 64%, followed by Brandenburg with 62%. The state of Baden-Württemberg had the lowest rate with 22%, followed by Hesse and Bavaria, each with 26%.
The Brandenburg gate in East-Berlin during the Cold War.