“Pirates are capturing Germany’s political system.” (Source: Business Week Bloomberg)
Just like the Greens in the 1980s, the German Pirate Party is challenging the established parties and party structures. But just like the Greens they will become part of the system if they win more influence. As I already wrote in the early years (1984) of the Green party movement, Michels "Iron Law Of Oligarchy" still applies.
Ther German press, especially Die Zeit, seems to be mesmerised by the new phenomenon, as latest opinion polls indicate die Piratenpartie would get over 13% of the vote in general elections and become third party (before the Greens and FDP).
Do they represent they first stirring of a new political movement, based on resentment and anger against the existing political order? Could they be the first political representation of the “Precariat, the new dangerous class” as described by UK economics professor Guy Standing?
Despite switching off 7 nuclear power stations and good economic growth, German industry reduced its carbon emissions by one percent in 2011.
Critics of the nuclear phase-out had predicted big carbon increases. (Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung).
"… the solution must be a new Constitutional Convention, whose members are invested with the authority to begin again from the foundations and produce a lapidary statement of basic institutions and rights—rather than the ponderous EU treaties Europeans tend to vote down when given the chance in national referendums."
Absolute must-read article by Timothy Snyder in The New York Review of Books on the need for Europe to re-invent EU democracy if it is to prevent further meltdown of the European project.
Some of the ideas developed in this article seem to go in the same direction as ideas I have developed earlier on this blog about the need for a Phoenix Europe project.
A few quotes worth highlighting from this amazing essay:
“… the European financial crisis is but a symptom of a deeper malaise of European political culture. Europe is troubled, he says, by insecure majorities, the national populations of EU member-states who believe themselves to be threatened both by globalization in the streets (immigration) and globalization in the law (Brussels). As Krastev puts it, national governments have politics but no policy, since important decisions are made by the EU; the EU has policy but no politics, since decisions are not made by elected representatives.”
“European integration has always depended upon a certain kind of historical brinksmanship. Each major step forward has contained the seeds of a future problem, which can only be solved at some future point by another step. Krastev likens this gradualist approach to crossing a wild river by jumping from rock to rock, with the next rock only becoming visible after each jump. But what, he asks, if the rocks only go halfway across the river?”
“At the moment Greek voters can change the parties who rule them, but cannot change fiscal policies. These are decided in Berlin. Thus we have the emergence of pantomime republics.”
“Since it would be a new beginning rather than just another treaty, however, it would have to start with Berlin. The German lead would have to be followed by other countries that are fiscally sound and growing, which at this moment means a new core around the Baltic Sea. Countries that vote it down would simply be left out, with the option of revoting later, rather than being allowed to torpedo the entire project.”
"Unlike many of its European neighbors, Germany has emerged from the recent recession with a robust economy, thanks in large part to flourishing exports. Germany has a dominant market share in various green technologies as well as a substantial part of its workforce employed in the environmental sector. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen in absolute terms, effectively decoupling economic growth from Germany’s environmental footprint."
Must-read article for all those who wonder how Germany has become the economic engine of Europe (and unfortunately also its paymaster).
Another good quote:
“the greening of the German economy is also unmistakably the product of several decades of targeted policy design and implementation, particularly in the past decade. Policies related to environmental protection and resource conservation have been mainstreamed in all areas of economic activity and have been described by a former government minister as central to Germany’s recent success: “green policy is merely good industrial policy”.
The integrated energy-climate programme which the Merkel government is likely to approve in December could bring Germany 5 billion euros in energy savings. The 29-points package (“Eckpunkte für einintegriertes Energie- und Klimaprogramm“) was evaluated by the German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) in a special study presented on 31 October 2007.
With its climate plan the German goverment wants to achieve a 40% reduction of CO2-emissions by 2020 compared to base year 1990. According to the evaluation by the Environment Agency, the actual reduction would be around 36%. The ambitious target of Germany would contribute to the EU’s target of 20% reduction (30% if other economic powers join the effort) set by the European leaders in their March summit.
German industry circles are sceptical about the package and have stated – based on a McKinsey study – that without the use of more nuclear power only a reduction of about 30% is realistic.
- Financial Times Germany: Klimaschutz rechnet sich
- Neue Zürcher Zeitung: Wo sich der Klimaschutz rechnet
- German ministry for the environment: Press dossier (in German)
- McKinsey Germany: Kosten und Potenziale der Vermeidung von Treibhausgasemissionen in Deutschland + German summary