In the case of the recent Land elections in Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg, the use of the word ‘sensational,’ for once, seems justified, writes Dr. Simon Green, Professor of Politics at Aston University, UK, and a frequent contributor to the Advisor. The results show that the Greens are the party of the moment, Dr. Green contends, but the realities of governing in Baden-Württemberg will present a challenge and at the federal level, Chancellor Merkel’s position continues to look somewhere between safe and unassailable.

The CDU has been in charge in Baden-Württemberg either solely or with a coalition since the 1950s and a CDU loss of leadership here would be a serious blow to Merkel’s position as chairman of the party. Up until recently, the CDU has been in good position to maintain power with Minister-President Stefan Mappus and an economy that is doing very well given its strong manufacturing base. However, nuclear power concerns after Japan will dominate the debate, and the Greens look poised to potentially have their first-ever Minister-President in Winfried Kretschmann.

Mostly overshadowed by the same-day election in Baden-Württemberg, the neighboring state of Rhineland-Palatinate has been in the hands of the Social Democrats (in coalition with the FDP until 2006) since the early 1990s. Minister-President Kurt Beck remains popular and the state is also doing well economically; booming high-tech and pharmaceutical companies result in Rhineland-Palatinate having the highest rate of exports among all Länder. Still, this tumultuous election year shows that nothing can be taken for granted, and this election will also come down to the wire.

In Saxony-Anhalt, the retirement of Minister-President Wolfgang Böhmer has opened the door to aspiring leaders Reiner Haseloff (CDU) and Jens Bullerjahn (SPD), who would like nothing more than to avoid another CDU-SPD ‘grand coalition’ in the government. Currently, the SPD looks likely to retain its position in the majority, but whether that will be in a coalition with the CDU, the Left Party, or the Left Party and the Greens remains to be seen. Another victory here for the SPD on March 20 would add to the momentum gained in Hamburg. AICGS has compiled essential links and media coverage surrounding the election in Sachsen-Anhalt, and will do so for each of the remaining Land elections throughout the year.

In this week’s At Issue, Executive Director Dr. Jackson Janes looks at the opening round of Germany’s regional elections in 2011 and examines the potential pitfalls and possibilities for Chancellor Merkel during this unusual year of political barometers.

The results are in from Hamburg: the SPD, as expected, dominated the Bürgerschaft election and finished with 48.3 percent of the vote, its strongest showing in a state election in thirteen years. The debate surrounding this specific election, however, is whether the results can be extrapolated to the federal level. Chancellor Merkel argued that local issues caused the results, but others argue that this is the beginning of the end for Merkel’s governing coalition. Which side is right? Senior Non-Resident Fellow Prof. Dr. Dr. Karl-Rudolf Korte gives his immediate take on the election in an essay below; additionally, AICGS has compiled essential links and media coverage surrounding the election in Hamburg, and will do so for each of the remaining Land elections throughout the year.

On February 20, Hamburg’s Bürgerschaft election marks the first of seven major Land elections to shape the political atmosphere in 2011. The SPD – with main candidate Olaf Scholz – looks to gain some momentum with a victory in Hamburg, a result that could send a message to voters in the other elections later in the year and have implications for Chancellor Merkel’s federal coalition. AICGS has compiled essential links and media coverage surrounding the upcoming election in Hamburg, and will do so for each of the remaining Land elections throughout the year.

In this week’s At Issue, Executive Director Dr. Jackson Janes examines the efforts to deal with the shootings in Tucson and how both Germany and the U.S. try to come to grips with such violent acts.

“Football is not a matter of life or death,” claimed Bill Shankly, a former manager of Liverpool, one of England’s most well-known football clubs. “It’s much more important than that!” While most would agree that Shankly was over-egging the significance of what Pele once called “the beautiful game” ever so slightly, it’s been hard to …Read More

In Policy Report 42, Annette Zimmer and Steven Rathgeb Smith look at social service and health care provision in the United States and Germany, examining the historical development of the different styles of welfare state, the role of public and private expenditures and providers, and current trends in the two countries. The authors offer answers to questions such as how is social service and health care provision affected by the new approach of designing social policy? They also address whether path-dependency in the two countries is still in place; or if German and American nonprofit social and health care providers, confronted with similar problems, tend to adopt similar strategies in order to keep or even enlarge their share of a growing market of social service provision.

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