Thursday, September 3, 2009

What's Harder-Grammar or Politics?

It takes years to begin to understand German grammar. It could take longer to get their politics. They have several levels of political office that they vote for, and some that they don’t (the president is selected every five years by a group of people including politicians and celebrities assembled just for that vote.) One of the hardest aspects for Americans to understand is the multiple party system.

In the United States you have two viable parties. In spite of how different they seem from each other, in the grand political spectrum they really represent two ends of the same side of the same coin. Within the parties there are those on the extreme ends of things, but most Americans tend to be moderate leaning conservative.

Germany has many parties. Going from “left” to “right” you have:

The Linke: your old Communists from the GDR days married to the Socialist party of West Germany.
The Green Party: A single issue party devoted to environmental issues. (There are also such single issue parties as the Animal Rights Party and others.)
The SPD: sort of like the more liberal branch of the Democratic Party in the US.
The CDU: the Christian Democratic Union, similar to conservative Democrats and “moderate” Republicans.
The FDP: the closest thing to libertarians. They want less government, which is pretty radical in Europe.
The NDP: whatever they call themselves, they are known as the neo-nazis.

The nice thing about so many parties is that you can usually find someone to vote for who is similar to your views. The downside is that no one ever gets a majority of the vote. The result is that the governing power has to be achieved and maintained by two or three parties agreeing to work together and keep each other happy. That might not be so bad, come to think of it.

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