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September 28, 2009

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The idea of a gay person leading any sort of major conservative party in America is just unthinkable

Ken Mehlman?

And I think that American free-market Republicans could probably get a lot more done in terms of getting rid of stupid regulations if they weren't joined at the hip with social conservatives.

It would also help if they weren't hostile to perfectly sensible regulations, too. For example, I would be much more willing to trust them if they had proposals about how to re-regulate the financial industry to prevent another catastrophe like the current one. If their answer continues to be "it's all the fault of bad regulations, so we should deregulate even more", I'll find it very hard to believe that they know the difference between reasonable and unreasonable regulation.

I swear I put in a "close italics" the first time!

I wonder what the cheering conservatives will think of FDP-leader's Guido Westerwelle's stated aims to get rid of US nukes in Germany.


FWIW: in Austrian regional election the social democrats also lost quite substantially. (Vorarlberg last week, Oberösterreich this sunday.)

One of the possible FDP choices for leading the German "department of Justice" could be Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger. She had the same position in the 1990s. And she resigned protesting a - in her view - overly permissive phone tapping law.

On the other hand the "Financial Times Germany" was wary about a CDU-FDP coalition. They cautioned that the FDP seemed to be stuck in a pre-2007 mode. No discussion inside the party about the financial crisis (and the banks responsible for it). And favoring tax cuts while Germany faces a huge budget deficit for years.
They would have liked a CDU-Green coalition. :)
Does that make them "unserious"? :)

Just for clarification:
For what it's worth, I also agree with Yglesias that Germany seems over-regulated in many ways.

Which regulations do you mean here?
I mean, as a German, I can think of a few. But I´m not quite sure if we think about the same things here...

I'm not sure saying the CDU would be "fairly liberal democrats" makes any more sense that calling them conservative in the US sense.

The German political consensus is that the state should provide substantially more services than it does in the US, so even the FDP would never propose dropping univeral coverage.

But the CDU (and especially the CSU) are socially quite conservative - they opposed gay marriage, they really don't like immigrants much, and they favour family policies designed to encourage women to stay home and have more children.

Also the CDU does really want to reform industrial relations and some part of the government to make them less cozy. Now they'll be in coalition with the FDP instead of the SPD they stand a much better chance of actually doing this.

I can't really imagine relatively liberal democrats confronting unions, opposing gay marriage and favour payments to couples for having more children, can you?

It's almost as if different countries had different political contexts!

"And I think that American free-market Republicans could probably get a lot more done in terms of getting rid of stupid regulations if they weren't joined at the hip with social conservatives."

Pro-environment Democrats could get more done if they weren't joined at the hip to Luddites. Probably the most significant result of this election is that Germany isn't going to take a big step backwards by shutting down it's nuclear plants.

Except, of course, that Luddites don't get elected to Congress or other offices and social conservatives do, which you know, but hey, if you didn't have the to quoque at your disposal your toolbox would be empty.

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But the CDU (and especially the CSU) are socially quite conservative - they opposed gay marriage

Unless they're planning to rescind Germany's legal recognition of same-sex civil unions, they're still not all that "conservative" by US standards.

"I can't really imagine relatively liberal democrats confronting unions, opposing gay marriage and favour payments to couples for having more children, can you?"

ok, the rest of the post you wrote sounded sincere, but this? its exactly what democrats run on, except with 'tax cuts' instead of 'payments' for breeders.

I can't really imagine relatively liberal democrats confronting unions, opposing gay marriage and favour payments to couples for having more children, can you?

Indeed, that's precisely why DOMA, don't ask don't tell, and the EITC have been so soundly repudiated by the Democratic party. In fact, that's why Democratic Presidents refused to sign DOMA, DADT, and the largest expansion of the EITC into law. Given how quickly the current Democratic President operating with a Democratic congress managed to pass card check, I'd say the power of the unions to influence Dem policy is indisputable.

Merkel has reluctantly agree to expanding insurance of bank deposits, she did sign a stimulus plan, but as criticized the US for the overly large one that we have enacted and criticized Obama for planning further stimulus plans.

She has stated her plan for further Free-Market reforms in Germany. Historically, she has supported reducing the VAT and substituting a flat tax. While German coalition politics have forced her to compromise some of those views her core positions are for fiscal restraint. She has been closer to Bush than Obama in her Middle East policy.

This was not a win for Obama, and unlike CNN's reporting it does not show a weakening f her position, but rather she is stronger because she is able to take on a more conservative coalition partner than she had previously.

The parties over here are mixed bags and there can be huge differences between the state and the federal level. Some coalitions work perfectly fine on the state level but are (as of yet) unthinkable on the federal.
Currently several of the established parties are far from where they used to be. Merkel's predecessor Schröder, despite coming from the left, was far more radical in reforming (i.e. cutting) the social net*. The FDP regularly undergoes ideological changes because the party is a mixture of social liberals, libertarians and national conservatives (i.e. a brown fringe). Currently the libertarians have the upper hand. The CSU, usually our equivalent of the Southern GOP, is at the moment going left (on the federal level) and has taken another hit (having lost almost a third of the votes they got just a few years ago).
In short, it is currently not at all clear in what direction German policy will go (and I even doubt that the new administration will reverse course on nuclear power because that would be highly unpopular).
And do not forget, Merkel's CDU lost votes too while The LEFT (Die Linke) and the Green party had significant gains. As I see it, a majority wanted to keep Merkel but saw the grand coalition as an excuse for doing nothing. The only realistic change was towards a CDU/FDP coalition since all other possible coalitions ("traffic lights", "Jamaica" and red-red-green) had been ruled out by the unwillingness of (at least) one potential participant. As a result the FDP achieved the best result they ever had despite not actually being loved.

*our version of Nixon-to-China. Only the left can do certain social cuts (without being kicked out of office at the first opportunity). Kohl probably lost his last election for proposing a 3 day hiatus in continuation of payment to sick workers (being fed up with his overlong reign was not sufficient).

Ken Mehlman never had much name recognition with the rank and file. He was, I suppose, openly gay, but also very quietly gay. He was a low profile person in general.

I like the suggestion that an openly gay person could never ever lead the Republican Party, as if, you know, it might happen with the Democratic Party any day now.

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