Die Qual der Wahl

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So the German general elections are just a week away and Berlin (and the rest of the country, I’m sure) has been covered by thousands of Plakate in various shapes and sizes and with varying degrees of cliche. Germany is big on election posters, much more so than the UK and they adorn every free lamp post (even in side streets) and every patch of grass by the side of the road – then, of course there are the billboards. I thought I would include a selection of a few that are around, and highlight their pros and cons.

Now, while I may not stand in agreement with Angela Merkel’s social policies, she is currently pulling a head of the other parties significantly and does have her mainly successful leadership for the past 8 years, plus her handling of the EU and Euro crisis on her CV. Furthermore, she is seemingly the only candidate with a chance currently. While the SPD has a lot of pulling power, Peer Steinbrück seems to let the side down, particularly after his now infamous appearance on the cover of Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazine.

The above image shows one of CDU‘s campaign posters – this is my particular favourite because it is completely transparent in its ‘actual’ and ‘attempted’ message. The party, who’s image is wholly based on Christian conservative beliefs, is trying to show that social policy is important to them too – most likely in an attempt to appeal to those undecided between SPD and CDU. The tagline claims “Every family is different, yet equally important to us”. All well and good so far. Then you see the image. A white, middle class family bonding over making breakfast. The only thing that doesn’t make this a complete stereotype is that the father is cooking, letting his wife take the day off. How modern. This image is perfect for a CDU campaign, its the headline that is misplaced and essentially reads, “every white, middle class family is slightly different, yet equally important to us”. Here we can see the dilemma surrounding election campaigns – do you alienate your base or try to appeal to new voters. The CDU know as well as everyone else that they hold a strong lead and therefore they are focusing on appealing to their base. This poster alienates anyone who doesn’t stem from a ‘nuclear family’ and excludes immigrants (1st, 2nd and every other generation), and anyone who isn’t heterosexual, for a start.

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The SPD (Germany’s social democrats) also went for an obvious photo shoot and slogan combination – which tends to focus more on policy plans, as opposed to the CDU, who have focused more on successes in the past two terms and vague slogans alluding to family policy and economic growth. On the whole, I quite like the SPD campaign, and generally prefer policy suggestions as opposed to empty words and pats on the back. While the mother and the daughter are clearing playing to cliches here, at least it is more realistic and inclusive than the CDU‘s image.

The FDP (Germany’s free democrats who are business heavy) are sinking rapidly and are currently hovering around the 5% mark, and could fall below, meaning they wouldn’t even be allowed into the Bundestag. For this reason, and because their posters are nothing special, I am going to move on to die Grünen/Bündnis 90. The Greens have mainly gone for a lot of word play and images of ‘friendly looking locals’

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Here the Greens are highlighting their parental and family policy with the headline “my mum will be the boss” and their slogan “and you?” features on every poster in the hope to make the people on the street feel involved.

Some of the best posters on offer this year come from Die Linke, German’s left party. These posters are to the point, with only text and the logo to offer. They also highlight the parties policies and central beliefs. The poster below reads “Enough chatting! 10 Euro minimum wage now”. However some of the party’s posters are far too ideological, which in turn make the party look less credible.

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Finally we have the controversial NPD (Germany’s nationalist party) below. These images are recycled from the local elections back in 2009 and as racist as ever. The image speaks for itself, and the slogan reads “Have a good journey home”. Thankfully this party doesn’t hit the 5% mark and is unlikely to in this election. Their posters are erected to get a reaction and to create tension. They also open up a whole new issue regarding freedom of speech, democracy and ultimately the question as to whether they should be banned or not.

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The German general election is on Sunday 22nd September.

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