Earlier this week, Alice Weidel, head of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party was accused of sending a poisonous e-mail in which she wrote that Germany was being “overrun by culturally alien peoples such as Arabs, Sinti and Roma.” The Welt Am Sonntag newspaper reported they had received the email from a former colleague of Ms. Weidel from when she used to work in finance in Frankfurt.
Later this week, another newspaper reported Ms. Weidel had hired a Syrian asylum-seeker to help with household chores in her Swiss residence. The female worker’s job was not declared to tax authorities, according to Die Zeit. It’s just the latest in a growing list of Ms. Weidel’s contradictory quirks. The co-leader of the right-wing AfD is a former investment banker, openly gay and raising two sons together with her Swiss partner of Sri Lankan origin.
Ms. Weidel herself has called both news items “fake news”, even though the German newspapers are standing by their reports. And then there are AfD posters like the one above. In case it needs any explanation, the sentence reads: "Burkas? We prefer Bikinis."
Only weeks before the election, many Germans were not commenting on the policies presented by the head of the Free Democratic Party, Christian Lindner. No, they were talking about his tie. A black and white cow-hide print tie, of all things.
Mr. Lindner was wearing the garment on a 20-year-old video filmed for a youth show called "100 Degrees." In it, the 18-year-old would-be businessman - hair gelled, wearing an oversized jacket, and with a light sprinkling of acne - talks confidently about why school has nothing to teach him. He explained how he and his friend started a marketing business in a spare bedroom at home. The video, seen by over 1.5 million Germans, includes gems like: “You just have to convince people with your words.” And: “Problems are just thorny opportunities.”
The host wrapped up the show with a reference to the youthful neo-liberals cruising around in their borrowed Mercedes. Some of his comments are particularly pertinent today: “The most important thing is a big mouth.” And maybe a better choice of tie.
A Problematic Relationship
Germans are extremely fond of their Wahl-O-Mat, or in English, the Vote-O-Meter. The online voting advice app has voters answer 38 questions, based on which they are directed to the political party whose policies match best with their points of view. The creators of the Wahl-O-Mat, used by millions of Germans every year (7.5 million in the first week of its release), try hard to make the differences between the parties clear.
But political scientist Thorsten Faas from the University of Mainz made another surprising discovery when he used the application to answer another question: Which parties have the most in common? Some of the similarities are obvious such as between the Greens and the Left Party. One shock though was the party that had the most in common with the far-right, migrant-hating AfD: the pro-business Free Democrats.
Swimming Pool Hooligan
Compared to most other European leaders, Germany’s Martin Schulz is clearly a badass. He was recently asked a series of questions sent in by young Germans on live television. One of these asked: What was the naughtiest thing you ever did? After hesitating, Mr. Schulz, the leader of the Social Democrats and Ms. Merkel’s main rival for the chancellorship, said he could only talk about the second naughtiest thing he had ever done. “On a boozy night, I put a packet of washing powder into an open air swimming pool,” he confessed, laughing, admitting he had climbed over a fence to get into the grounds. The police were called, added Mr. Schulz. The former president of the European parliament is a recovered alcoholic, who has not a drop since the 1980s and who is known for his frankness. “Were you arrested?” the show’s presenter asked. “No, I was too fast,” Mr. Schulz replied, chortling a little more.
Compare that to the naughtiest thing Ms. Merkel has ever done: She says she sat inside a tree trunk, sticky with resin, wearing a brand new outfit. Or the naughtiest thing UK leader Theresa May confessed to (earning much ridicule): She ran through fields of wheat as a child. But the real story here? Germany now wants to know what the naughtiest thing Mr. Schulz ever did was.
Super Green Heroes
The Green Party is enthusiastic about the youth vote and is not above a few games to get it. In 2014, party co-leader Cem Özdemir made headlines (and was investigated by police) when he filmed himself taking the popular online ice bucket challenge on his balcony at home, next to a fairly large marijuana plant. The Greens believe marijuana should be further decriminalized in Germany.
This year, the Green Party are moving into online gaming. A political version of what appears to be a re-make of the gaming classic "Super Mario" has appeared online. But instead of Super Mario, it features the two Green Party leaders as heroes who must leap tall coal stacks in a single bound and navigate around recurring figures of AfD politician, Alexander Gauland, who has expressed doubts about man-made climate change.
The idea is not new. It’s been used in the Netherlands before and earlier this year, a similarly styled game by the Social Democrats, called the "Schulzzug," or the Schulz Train, came in for criticism. The game, meant for mobile phones, features Martin Schulz as a train that steams over various political opponents, everyone from Russian President Vladimir Putin to AfD leader Frauke Petry. “Running people over as part of a game is not funny, it is tasteless,” complained senior CDU politician, Julia Klöckner, at the time. As yet, nobody has commented on the impropriety - or not - of Green Party members leaping over Mr. Gauland’s tiny head.
The swastika is illegal in Germany; it’s a banned symbol of the country’s National Socialist past. So when a woman in the Berlin suburb of Wedding spotted swastika graffiti on a neighborhood wall, she called the police. The culprits? Turned out it was not some far-right hate-speech mongers. Germany’s Left Party was responsible.
Film makers working on the left-wing party’s behalf had painted the swastika on the wall and then shot a female actress removing it. It was part of their election campaign and was supposed to show how ordinary Germans could fight back against the far-right, the Left Party explained.
“It is bizarre when the Left Party in Berlin paint swastikas just to show they are against right wing hate,” Hubertus Knabe, director of a Berlin museum and memorial in a former East German prison, complained before suggesting the offence be referred to the city’s prosecutor.
That’s rubbish, was the response of Left Party spokesperson, Hendrik Thalheim. Swastikas can be produced for dramatic purposes like this, he argued. And anyway, Mr. Thalheim argued, having the resident call the police was exactly the reaction the Left Party would have hoped for.
Source: youtube/DIE LINKE