Topic: Can Germany’s New Chancellor Revive the Left in Europe?
Last December, as he was plotting what most considered to be a hopeless bid to become Germany’s next chancellor, Olaf Scholz interrupted his campaign preparations for a video call with an American philosopher.
Scholz, a Social Democrat, wanted to talk to the philosopher, Michael J. Sandel of Harvard, about why center-left parties like his had been losing working-class voters to populists, and the two men spent an hour discussing a seemingly simple theme that would become the centerpiece of the Scholz campaign: “Respect.”
Scholz is Germany’s ninth postwar chancellor — and the first Social Democrat in 16 years — succeeding Angela Merkel and heading a three-party coalition government. Defying polls and pundits, he led his 158-year-old party from the precipice of irrelevance to an unlikely victory — and now wants to show that the center-left can again become a political force in Europe.
For the center-left in Europe, Scholz’s victory comes at a critical moment. Over the past decade, many of the parties that once dominated European politics have become almost obsolete, seemingly bereft of ideas and largely abandoned by their working-class base.
The political energy has been on the right, especially the populist far right, with many American conservatives flocking to countries like Hungary to study the “illiberal democracy” of Viktor Orban, that nation’s far-right prime minister.
“The biggest concern in politics for me is that our liberal democracies are coming increasingly under pressure,” Mr. Scholz says about himself on the Social Democrats’ website. “We have to solve the problems so that the cheap slogans of the populists don’t catch.”
Last year, in the middle of the first Covid-19 lockdown, Mr. Scholz read Professor Sandel’s latest book, “The Tyranny of Merit” in which the Harvard philosopher argued that the meritocratic narrative of education as an engine of social mobility had fueled resentment and contributed to the rise of populists like Mr. Trump.
“The backlash of 2016 vividly expressed that simply telling people, ‘You can make it if you try,’ was not an adequate response to the wage stagnation and job loss brought about by globalization,” Professor Sandel said in an interview. “What Social Democratic elites missed was the insult implicit in this response to inequality, because what it said was, ‘If you’re struggling in the new economy, your failure is your fault.’”
桑德爾受訪時說：「2016年的強烈反應鮮明表達出，僅僅告訴人們『去嘗試就能做到』，並非對全球化造成的薪資停滯和失業的適切回應。社民黨菁英沒注意的是，這種對於不平等現象的回應隱含著侮辱，因為它說的是，『如果你在新經濟裡苦苦掙扎，你失敗是你自己的錯』。」Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/5970225
Topic: Europe’s COVID Culture War Plays Out in Pockets of Germany
Sven Müller is proudly unvaccinated. He thinks COVID-19 vaccines are neither effective nor safe but a way to make money for pharmaceutical companies and corrupt politicians who are taking away his freedom.
Under state rules to stem coronavirus infections, he is no longer allowed to go to restaurants, to the bowling alley, to the cinema or to the hairdresser. From next week, he will be barred from entering most shops, too. But that has only strengthened his resolve.
“They can’t break me,” said Müller, 40, a bar owner in the town of Annaberg-Buchholz, in the Ore Mountain region in the eastern state of Saxony where the vaccination rate is 44% — the lowest in Germany.
Müller personifies a problem that is as sharp in some parts of Europe as it is in the United States. If Germany had red and blue states, Saxony would be crimson. In places like this, pockets of unvaccinated people are driving the latest round of contagion, filling strained hospital wards, putting economic recoveries at risk and sending governments scrambling to head off a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Western European governments are resorting increasingly to thinly veiled coercion with a mixture of mandates, inducements and punishments.
In many countries, it is working. When President Emmanuel Macron announced in July that vaccine passports would be required to enter most social venues, France — where anti-vaccine sentiment was strong — was one of the least vaccinated countries in Europe. Today it has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy followed Macron’s lead with even tougher measures. There, and in Spain, too, attempts by populist parties to stoke a broad-based anti-vaccine backlash have largely been snuffed out.
But regional resistance against the coronavirus vaccine remains. In Central and Eastern Europe — and in the German-speaking countries and regions bordering them — the problem is more stubborn.
In Italy, the northern province of Bolzano — bordering Austria and Switzerland, where 70% of the population is German-speaking — has the country’s lowest vaccination rate.
“There is some correlation with far-right parties, but the main reason is this trust in nature,” said Patrick Franzoni, a doctor who spearheads the inoculation campaign in the province. Especially in the Alps, he said, the German-speaking population trusts fresh air, organic produce and herbal teas more than traditional drugs.
在該省率先發起疫苗接種運動的醫師派崔克．佛蘭佐尼說：「這與極右翼政黨有些關係，但主要原因是對自然的信任。」他表示，尤其在阿爾卑斯山區，說德語的民眾更相信新鮮空氣、有機農產品與花草茶，而不是傳統藥物。Source article : https://udn.com/news/story/6904/5919791
Topic: It's Election Season in Germany. No Charisma, Please!
The most popular politician who would like to be chancellor isn’t on the ballot. The leading candidate is so boring people compare him to a machine. Instead of “Yes, We Can!” voters are being fired up with promises of “Stability.”
Germany is having its most important election in a generation but you would never know it. The newspaper Die Welt recently asked in a headline: “Is this the most boring election ever?”
Yes and no.
The campaign to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel after 16 years of her dominating German and European politics is the tightest in Germany since 2005, and it just got tighter. The Social Democrats, written off as recently as a month ago, have overtaken Merkel’s conservatives for the first time in years.
But the campaign has also revealed a charisma vacuum that is at once typical of postwar German politics and exceptional for just how bland Merkel’s two most likely successors are. No party is polling more than 25%, and for much of the race the candidate the public has preferred was none of the above.
Whoever wins, however, will have the job of shepherding the continent’s largest economy, making that person one of Europe’s most important leaders, which has left some observers wondering if the charisma deficit will extend to a leadership deficit as well.
While the election outcome may be exciting, the two leading candidates are anything but.
Less than a month before the vote, the field is being led by two male suit-wearing career politicians — one balding, one bespectacled, both over 60 — who represent the parties that have governed the country jointly for the better part of two decades.
There is Armin Laschet, the governor of the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, who is running for Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. And then there is Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat who is Merkel’s finance minister and vice chancellor.
The candidate of change, Annalena Baerbock, the 40-year-old co-leader of the Greens, has a bold reform agenda and plenty of verve — and has been lagging in the polls after a brief surge before the summer.
It’s a nail-biter, German-style: Who can most effectively channel stability and continuity? Or put another way: Who can channel Merkel?
For now it seems to be Scholz — a man Germans have long known as the “Scholz-o-mat” or the “Scholz machine” — a technocrat and veteran politician who can seem almost robotically on message. Where others have slipped up in the campaign, he has avoided mistakes, mostly by saying very little.
目前看來似是蕭茲，德國人認識已久的「蕭茲機器人」或「蕭茲機器」，一名技術官僚及資深政客，傳達訊息時像是機器人。其他候選人在選戰中不小心失言時，他避免犯錯，大多數是因說得很少。Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/5739953