New Zealand, Germany to hold elections this weekend
Well, here is my promised commentary on these two elections. I will probably not be able to cover them as they happen, because I will be away from my computer this weekend. However, I'm sure that I will have plenty to say on Monday.
Let's take New Zealand first (Note to Kiwis: Yes, the pun was intentional; and no, its not an endorsement).
This election is going to be a real nail-biter. The leftist Labor Party (which is the current governing party) is running neck and neck with the conservative National Party. The last poll I saw showed National with a razor-thin lead, but that was at least a week ago. There is a distinct possibility that neither party will win a majority in Parliament, and the balance of power will be left with the third largest party, New Zealand First. The problem is that NZ First is notoriously ambiguous on most issues. Hardly anyone knows where they stand on the issues, let alone which major party they would support. NZ First leader Winston Peters says that his party will not enter into a governing coalition with either Labor or National, but hinted that they might support the largest party in the next Parliament (but no guarantees).
Personally, I would love nothing more than to see the Labor Government, led by Prime Minister Helen Clark, flushed down the proverbial toilet. I am extremely angry at Ms. Clark after she committed the single worst politicization of Hurricane Katrina that I have heard yet. She claims that the Bush tax cuts stripped money from disaster relief efforts (which is not true), and basically said that low taxes literally kill people (National is campaigning on a tax-cut platform). I think that the blog NZPundit put it best, describing Labor's scare-tactic campaign strategy as "Vote for us, or the kid drowns". I beg the people of to replace Ms. Clark with National Party leader Don Brash post-haste.
Things are not quite so close in Germany's parliamentary elections; the conservative Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union is leading the governing Social Democratic Party by a rather considerable margin in the polls. The issue here is not whether or not the CDU/CSU will win, but the margin of victory. The CDU/CSU would prefer that they win enough seats to govern in a coalition with the small Free Democratic Party. However, they be forced into a situation where the only way they can get a parliamentary majority is to form a "grand coalition" with their arch-rivals, the Social Democratic Party. The outcome really depends on how many seats are won by the Left Party (Die Linkspartei), which is the remnant of East Germany's Communist Party. Die Linkspartei has enjoyed a surge of support, and may win just enough seats to make life very difficult for the major parties.
Either way, there is much to be happy about. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that radical leftist and America-phobe (I just invented a new word, cool!) Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder can kiss his job goodbye (the leader of the majority party in parliament becomes Chancellor). He will be replaced by CDU/CSU leader Angela Merkel, who will be the both the first woman and the first person from the former East Germany to be elected Chancellor. I am really excited about this election.
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