The Great Bavarian Fun House of Question Mark Mirrors

9 10 2018

Munich

Now my promised handicapping.

As you can figure, Oktoberfest has given me a good close read on Bavarians, so I’m ready to make a prediction on what will happen this coming Sunday.

But before I do that, I have to point out several indisputable facts:

(1) Bavarians march to the beat of their own drummer, and have for quite some time, pridefully so. Which means that the kind of conventional wisdom that works for most people may fail when trying to apply it to Bavarians. They’re hard to grok.

(2) Bavarians are generally content, happy and prosperous. Here’s a hint: Of Germany’s large cities that non-Germans of an average geographical education can easily identify, Munich has the highest GDP per capita. And by “highest,” I mean it beats the second place city by a wide margin.  The second place city happens to be Frankfurt, which, being Germany’s and continental Europe’s banking hub, would be a city that one expects to have a high GDP per capita.  For Munich not just to beat Frankfurt at all, but beat it like a drum, and doing it as a city that is not itself a banking mecca, tells you just how prosperous is Munich.  Furthermore, Munich’s GDP is distributed more equitably and more fairly than Frankfurt’s GDP (Gini coefficient).  Meaning that in terms of percentage odds, the average Munichista is much more likely personally to feel his city’s prosperity than is the average Frankfurter.  The rest of Bavaria is generally prosperous, by first world smaller city and small town and rural standards.

(3) Bavarians are really nervous and skittish about the immigration, demographic and national question. Mainly because they know that the mystery meat have the want to plant themselves in Bavaria, especially Munich, precisely because of what I told you in (2). Immigrants don’t cause prosperity, they go where the prosperity already is. Just in case that little bit of correlation-causation tripped you up.  Even if they don’t want to plant themselves in Munich or Bavaria, many have to pass through here to get to other places, and cause a lot of problems while just passing through.

(4) Election day is precisely one week after the end of Oktoberfest, always a happy and joyous occasion, and I think the timing of that will matter to the outcome.

(5) Election season is coming on the heels of the Battle of Chemnitz, which is pretty close by. Then again, by American standards, any two places in Germany are really close to each other. Yet and still, by German standards, Chemnitz/Saxony are close, in fact, the states of Bavaria and Saxony have a little bit of a common border.  That is also timing which I think will matter.

(6) Election season here is only a little more than a month after the Swedish national elections, where the SD made improvements but fell short of “expectations,” i.e. what I believe to be the media and political establishment parroting SD-friendly outlier polling data knowing they wouldn’t do that well, in order to prefigure the “zomg disappointment” manufactured media talking point. It could be the case that the SD making big steps forward but still short of being the first or even second place finisher could be harbinger for how it will turn out for the AfD here in Bavaria on Sunday.

(7) This will be the AfD’s first try in the Bavarian Landtag. The previous election, September 2013, the party was barely an infant, having been formed nationally in February of that year, so it didn’t compete here in Bavaria in that cycle. However, in last year’s Federal elections, the AfD competed everywhere, and the Bavaria-specific results were CSU 38%, SPD 15%, AfD 12%.  Compared to the national results of Union 33%, SPD 21%, AfD 13%.

(8) Historically, the CSU finishes in first place, has in every Bavarian Landtag election since the end of WWII with the single exception of 1950, and a majority of the time gets an absolute majority of the vote. In 2013, it got 47%.

(9) This election season is happening in the wake of the Merkel-Seehofer-Maaßen soap opera, and the real story there, in spite of the media hoopla and MacGuffinization, is that Seehofer tried to weaponize the BfV to throw shade on the AfD purely to beat them back in advance of this coming Sunday and what they could do to Seehofer’s CSU.

(10) We found out more than a week ago that within the last several months, Seehofer is the major German elected public official who has experienced the most precipitous decline in esteem and favorability. No reasons were officially speculated, but I just told you why: People weren’t cool with his dirty tricks. His stench I think will land on the CSU Landtag candidates, even though Seehofer is a Federally elected politician himself, leads the CSU in the Bundestag.

(11) The CSU is a Bavaria-only party, and it would be an existential embarrassment if it lost control of the Bavarian Landtag. When I was here in Munich as a tourist over the summer, I saw that the CSU has a pretty new building here in town for its party HQ, and I’m sure it’s got a nice big fat mortgage payment. The bank certainly can’t afford for the CSU to go kaput now.

(12) Which is why Merkel, Seehofer, Markus Söder (current Bavarian state premier) have all been working hard to nose right and coopt the AfD agenda in the last few weeks, and will continue to do so for the rest of this week.

(13)  Within the last two weeks, a national poll came out to show that the AfD is the second most popular party in the country with 18% support.

(14)  A slightly complicating factor is that the current state of Bavaria is way more extensive than the traditional quintessential Bavaria.  It contains much of what used to be Franconia, including Nuremberg and its satellite cities, and a little bit of what used to be Swabia.  Bavarians might march to the beat of their own drummer, but I don’t know if that’s so true for Franconians and Swabians, save Swabians have what is as of now the most prominent surviving extant dialect of the German language, and a unique cuisine, some of that I’ll be filling up on, on my way between Munich and Basel, next week.  Yet and still, most Franconians and some Swabians get to vote in Bavarian elections, which will complicate my handicapping.

Mash this all together, and my ultimate prediction of what will happen on Sunday is that I have no solid cock-sure prediction.

Seriously.

I can see anything from as bad as the AfD finishing in third with single digits, from as good as the AfD finishing at first with a plurality but not majority percentage, to anything in between. Any one of those scenarios would not surprise me in the least.

Bavarians’ happiness and prosperity, and the election coming after Oktoberfest, and the SD’s not quite punching through in Sweden, and the fact that the AfD are rookies, and the fact that the CSU is so politically-culturally ingrained in Bavaria, and the CSU’s coopting the AfD manifesto, points to them sticking with the CSU.  There’s also the matter of the aforementioned bank that holds the mortgage on the new CSU HQ building, and I have pretty good reason to believe that the bank in question has been trying to wield subtle political influence to swing voters to the CSU.

Bavarians’ nervousness over immigration and seeing what happened in next door Saxony (a state where the AfD finished in first place in last year’s national elections, the only state where they did), and perhaps their aversion to the anti-AfD dirty tricks the homeboy Seehofer tried to play, points to them switching to AfD. If you use the 2017 Federal numbers as a baseline, and figure on some minimal level of AfD growth, then you’d think that at the very least the AfD will come in second with at least 15%. Or maybe, Bavarians, with their march-to-their-own-drummer quirkiness, will do something for reasons I can’t fathom.

Then there are the wild cards of Franconians and Swabians.

After having read all this, I know you’re mad, because I teased and tempted you with all this cogent analysis, yet I won’t give a prediction.  So there you go, sticking a gun between my eyes, forcing one out of me.

2nd place with 17%.

Why?

Remember, in the 2017 Federals, the AfD only slightly underperformed its national average in Bavaria.  Now we know it has 18% nationally, so I’m just shaving a percent off.  And guessing that a party that gets 17% in Bavaria considering the chess board situations of the other parties will finish in second place.

The Bavarian Landtag uses a mixed member proportional representation system, similar to the Bundestag, but with a few cosmetic differences.  Which means, if the AfD does finish in 2nd place with 17%, it will get some Landtag seats just as a matter of some of its candidates finishing in first place in some districts, but it will also be apportioned some seats based on getting over a certain threshold, and I’m sure 17% is well above whatever that is.  Based on the fact that a Bavarian Landtag voter, just like a Bundestag voter, gets to vote for both person to represent district and preferred political party.  What it means is that, if the AfD does get 17%, that political energy won’t be wasted in a first-past-the-post or winner-take-all dummy load.  It would result in that which Horst’s Ass Seehofer has feared for months:  Sinking the CSU under an absolute majority in the Landtag constituted from Sunday’s results.

***

However, I will say this with certitude: It’s important that the AfD at the very least shows well, and by that, I mean rock bottom 15%/2nd, for this reason: It needs to demonstrate that it can do well among prosperous people. In order to beat back the meme that nationalist politics are only the province of economically destitute losers.

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8 responses

9 10 2018
countenance

Evidence of how prosperous is Munich.

The two richest people in Germany are the two largest individual shareholders of BMW. The “poorer” of the two as a net worth far and away higher than the third richest individual in the country.

https://www.tag24.de/nachrichten/reichste-deutsche-milliarden-bmw-erben-quandt-lidl-albrecht-aldi-reinmann-otto-807548#article

9 10 2018
UlricKerensky

Of the major banks, only one would have to be referenced twice.

Speaking of banks, AfD started out as an anti-Eurozone bailout party. Will the current Eurozone financial rumblings play any material part in the outcome?

9 10 2018
David In TN

A change of subject if I may.

This (https://countenance.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/john-mccain-speaks-to-krauts-the-type-that-can-vote-in-november/) is an entry by the Blogmeister for 7-24-2008 during the 2008 election. The subject was the “German vote” in the USA. He wrote:

“While they’re at it, they should realize that half the whites in America, and most of the whites in the swing states like Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, are of significant Germanic ancestry. A good way to get their votes is to stem the tide of hatred and bigotry of, and ignorance toward, the German-Americans, and pointing out the innumerable contributions, both tangible and intangible, they made to the founding of America and its rise to a world superpower.”

BTW, I have no Germanic ancestry whatsoever. Mine is all from the British isles, 17th and 18th Century pioneers. And I’m descended from Confederate soldiers. IOW, people hated by the cultural mavens as much or more than Americans of German origin.

Isn’t the current POTUS of significant Germanic ancestry?

10 10 2018
countenance

I just thought of something else.

Another slight complicating factor relating to Landtag level electoral politics and the AfD that won’t be an issue at all nationally is that Landtags deal with a lot of closer to ground level issues than the Bundestag. If such an issue is domestic law enforcement, then it’s wind to the party’s back, but if it’s one of those social-economic issues which the party isn’t really used to or wasn’t established in light of, like education, then it’s a rough road.

12 10 2018
countenance

WSJ is interested in my new line of work.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/german-voters-set-to-punish-merkels-conservative-bloc-1539336600

I should have added here that Hessen, which contains Frankfurt, goes on October 28, and I’ll be in Wiesbaden that day, and also the next day, my first doctor’s appointment as an expat is in that city that day. The Party is not at all expecting to do well or anything in Frankfurt itself, but much better in the rest of the state.

14 10 2018
countenance

Early Sunday evening post.

Waiting on results.

I’ve been advised by those that really know to take the projections released in about 10 minutes from now, 6 PM Germany time, Noon US Eastern, with a grain of salt.

Anyway, about that farce in Berlin yesterday — Bet on that being organized by Merkel or her inner circle to intimidate Bavarian voters today and Hessian voters two weeks from today.

15 10 2018
Foot in the Door | Countenance Blog

[…] But if you remember my preview, I told you that no result within a very wide range would have surprised me, and this result was within that range, albeit very close to the low bookend. […]

23 10 2018
The Good Hessians | Countenance Blog

[…] My before-the-fact analysis of the Bavarian elections took a lot of chess pieces, but this one won’t be quite as convoluted.  Hesse is the second most prosperous state overall in Germany, Bavaria being the first.  But you may remember what I wrote in the Bavarian preview, that Munich’s and Bavaria’s prosperity has a better more fair and equitable distribution than Frankfurt’s and Hesse’s, i.e. Munich’s Gini Coefficient is lower than Frankfurt’s, and Bavaria’s lower than Hesse’s.  Mainly because Frankfurt is a banking, capital and finance city, and those industries lend themselves to a high Gini Coefficient. […]

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