Morning Briefing

How Germany Ticks

Donald Trump might hold the highest office in the US, but he’s not above the law. The president’s recent firing of former FBI chief James Comey has caused a tsunami of outrage that shows no signs of ebbing. As Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institute put it: “Donald Trump is either the guiltiest president since Richard Nixon, or he’s the most incompetent president since the founding of the United States.” Elsewhere, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post simply dubbed Trump “a tin-pot tyrant”.

Perhaps the US president simply doesn’t understand: The FBI isn’t just any federal bureau, but America’s central law-enforcement agency, boasting a staff of 35,000 charged with overseeing domestic intelligence. While Trump claims to have fired Comey for being a “showboat” and a “grandstander”, Comey’s replacement, FBI director Andrew McCabe, told the US Senate Intelligence Community that it was “one of his greatest privileges” to have served under his former boss. McCabe also called the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia “probably the most important thing I’ve done in public life.” Trump should not be confused about McCabe’s choice of words: they were a thinly veiled declaration of war.

If there was ever any proof that stock market capitalism is light-years away from reality, Snapchat is it. The messaging app pulled in only $149.7 million in sales last quarter – nowhere near enough to justify a market capitalization of $20.7 billion. It also remains unclear why founder and CEO Evan Spiegel recently received a special bonus of $750 million. You can’t make this stuff up! It seems that Das Kapital behaves in an even more surreal and heedless fashion than Marx described in his eponymous bestseller.

How is Germany thinking this election year? We at Handelsblatt have attempted to gain insight into the country’s political soul by commissioning a representative survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute. This will be conducted in three phases leading up to the parliamentary vote in September in order to capture changing trends in real time.

Today’s feature presents the first round of polling. Spoiler alert: both socially and psychologically, Germany is nowhere near as deeply divided as France, the UK or the US. However, uncontrolled immigration and a rise in crime remain sore points. When it comes to preferences for chancellor, incumbent Angela Merkel maintains a significant lead. As Allensbach Institute head Renate Köcher explains: “In such a climate, Germans prefer a bastion of calm rather than a captain steering a ship into uncharted waters.”

Indeed, if Social Democratic Party head Martin Schulz wants to understand why the initial euphoria surrounding his candidacy has waned, he should take a closer look at our survey. Schulz’s platform of social justice for the little man and autobiographical stories of wild teenage years have mostly caught on with welfare recipients, non-voters and anti-globalization types – but not with the upwardly mobile center of German society. Our survey says it loud and clear: Schulz has been preaching to the choir. And that’s not a viable approach to winning a federal election.


Picture of the Day

Workers position Lorenzo Quinn’s “Support” installation ahead of the 57th international Venice Biennale, Italy, which opens tomorrow. Source: Awakening/Getty Images
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