The recent German election and what British libertarians, true conservatives and UKIPpers can learn from it

By Mustela nivalis

The general election in Germany last Sunday generated a result that can only be called paradoxical (but only by people who assume that the world consists of a logical sequence of cause and effect): A majority of the electorate voted for (nominally) centre-right parties (‘conservative’ CDU, ‘liberal’ FDP and the upstart euro-critical ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ or AfD). Despite heavy losses for the FDP, the centre-right gained a net share of 2.7%, while the centre-left and left-wing parties lost net 2.9%. However, due to FDP and AfD remaining just below the parliamentary 5% threshold, the result in terms of seats is a majority of centre-left and left-wing parties: SPD, Greens, and ‘Die Linke’, the ex-ruling party of the ex-GDR. (The fact that the latter are even allowed to stand tells you a lot about present Germany.) See here for full election results.

The SPD (Social Democratic Party, equivalent to Labour) do not want a coalition with Die Linke (at least not at this point in time), so the new government will very likely be a ‘grand coalition’ of the two largest parties, the CDU and SPD. The SPD is the markedly smaller of the two. But because the SPD has a numerical (if not yet politically feasible) alternative coalition option, in government it will pull the ‘conservative’ CDU even further left than it already is. Another rather exotic (and very unlikely) numerical option is a coalition of CDU with the Greens, which would be the equivalent of British conservatives forming a coalition with only the left wing, evil and wackier elements of the Lib Dems (Chris Huhne, Norman Baker etc) plus Caroline Lucas.

This is the first time in post-war Germany that the Bundestag has been without representation from a liberal party, even one now only nominally liberal with some residue of true liberalism like the FDP. In fact, it has even been rare for the FDP to be out of government, let alone parliament. The first time it happened (that the FDP was not part of the governing coalition), in the late 1960s, the then grand coalition of CDU and SPD massively expanded the welfare state. This killed off the ‘Wirtschaftswunder’. The second time it happened was Gerhard Schröder’s red-green government (1998-2005, followed by another ‘grand coalition’ 2005-09), which immediately proceeded to take part in an act of unprovoked aggression against a small country (Serbia), the first time since 1945 that a German government did this.

IMHO, the FDP fully deserved to be chucked out of parliament (for being insufficiently liberal – in 2009 they had promised the liberal equivalent of the Moon, lower taxes, less regulation, strict adherence to the euro stability pact etc, got a record 15% and then in government delivered less than a small meteorite – nothing more than lower VAT for hotels). However, it does not bode well for either Germany or Europe that neither they nor the AfD (who are at least somewhat economically liberal, and have some idea of how wrong the euro is) have a voice in the Bundestag. That is not to say that a Fourth Reich is imminent. It’s just a significant sign of the times that Europe’s most important country and economy has now, at least for the time being, lost its last remnant of liberalism on the national level.

There is, I think, a lesson here for the British electorate: illogical results such as the one above are much more likely in a first-past-the-post system such as Britain has than under (German) proportional representation. I’m not in favour of voting reform. But true liberals, true conservatives and libertarians need to take the voting system into account. At least if they see voting as an act of self-defence.

To put it bluntly: By all means vote UKIP at the European election if you want to. I enjoy as much as anyone seeing Nigel Farage make the whole European establishment jump every time he opens his (admittedly big) mouth. However, the general election is a different matter. As things stand, only some kind of pact between the Tories and UKIP will prevent a Labour or Lib-Lab government.

Now, from what we know of the personalities of Cameron and Farage, they will not agree to such a pact before hell freezes over. However, in this day and age of the internet, voters are able to bypass such an official pact, as Toby Young suggests in this Spectator piece (see also the discussion below his article). I know the talk of a pact of any kind with any of the LibLabCon crowd is anathema for some very good people. And I respect that. Nonetheless I would urge everyone to at least consider this option. And to compare it with the most likely election result if a (bottom-up) pact does not materialize or is ineffective.

Before the last election, Sean Gabb recommended voting Conservative as a rational self-defence measure against a Labour party that was threatening to become ruthlessly dictatorial. Sean got a lot of flak for that. I think the recent parliamentary vote on Syria finally vindicated his position. I don’t think a Labour government would have hesitated one second to invoke the Royal Prerogative – they know as well as we do that ‘war is the health of the state’ – and would have landed Britain and the whole West in even deeper trouble than it is already.

I’m sure a new Labour or LibLab government would, as a matter of urgent priority, make an energetic drive towards irreversibility of British EU membership. I don’t know how they’d do it. But considering how hugely inconvenient Farage and UKIP are for the ruling class, I’d be very surprised if they are not hatching such plans already.

18 responses to “The recent German election and what British libertarians, true conservatives and UKIPpers can learn from it

  1. Oh dear. “Before the last election, Sean Gabb recommended voting Conservative …”. Well, if you want a government that is absolutely committed to our EU membership that’s fine. I do not.
    “I’m sure a new Labour or LibLab government would, as a matter of urgent priority, make an energetic drive towards irreversibility of British EU membership.” And a Conservative government even more so. They are the main drivers of the EU in this country. In any case, I believe we have already passed that point with Lisbon. The only way out now is by force, or at least the credible threat of force, and the Conservatives have made that impossible.
    The reason we are in this mess is that everybody votes on the basis of how they think everybody else is going to vote. Just vote for what you believe in, for heaven’s sake.

    • I’m afraid it’s worse than that – I recommend voting Conservative next time as well! The problem with the system we have is that you have to vote for the people you hate in order to keep out the people you fear.

      • I think we should all vote Ukip. That’s because then Labour will probably get in, and we can really really get the noses of the British People properly rubbed in real, nasty, life-threatening socialist shit and blood.
        There may still be enough old people alive to make a difference when it comes to facing down rows of armed police wearing riotmasks so you can’t see who they are.

        There’s only so many more (I’d say about two – or hopefuilly only one now) windows for PPE-type-politico-bastards to “call for” change for the better for the future for our children”…

        And I still don’t think that the Army will fire upon the people when ordered to. The fucking bastards have not abolished enough county regiments’ cadres yet.
        Did anyone notice, how it was that the “real county” regiment names were those that went first? Such as the “Staffordshire Yeomanry” that got “amalgamated into the “Queen’s Own Mercian Yeomanry”? And how all the county infantry regiments seem all to have become “The Rifles”? Event the Greenjackets, who werenot a traditional county setup.

  2. I’d have voted AfD. Germany needs different system -AV for lower House,PR for Upper with much lower threshold,referenda on major issues.No party should ever be or have been banned

  3. That’s right. Keep voting for bastards because they might be slightly less bastards than those other bastards over there. People advocating this utterly reprehensible position deserve all the flak that they get. “There are two escalators to Hell. I have chosen the verrrrrrrrry slightly slower one. Hooray for me!”.

    As to the Syria vote, that was a remarkable and unexpected event against the backdrop of near unanimity among the general population against involvement in another war; how it all would have played under Labour, we simply don’t know. Speculating as to what would have happened in such a counterfactual as a Labour government under Gordon Brown- when the whole reason there isn’t a Labour government under Brown is that we don’t live in that alternative reality and thus all the variables have different values- is pointless.

    If you keep voting for shits, you will get nothing but shits. Anybody of a liberal or classical liberal or genuinely conservative preference voting for David Cameron’s Tories is a turkey voting for Christmas, and it does not help at all to have people on nominally Libertarian websites advocating it. We’re supposed to be the radicals, for crying out loud.

    And finally, EU membership only becomes irreversible when the EU gets an army that has the power and will to fight us to stop us leaving, as with the American experience. No contractual terms hatched by any party can bind us into the EU. Only force can. That force does not exist yet. One day it no doubt will. Which party is in Westminster is irrelevant to that. David Cameron is a Europhile. A vote for him is no better than a vote for Miliband.

  4. Hugo-

    “The only way out now is by force, or at least the credible threat of force, and the Conservatives have made that impossible.”

    Not so. Lisbon includes a formal means of leaving, and in practise, all that would really be required is a phone call to Brussels saying “we’re leaving, cheerio, bye bye”. That will be the case until such time as the EU has both the will and the force to prevent somebody leaving. It currently has neither, and will have neither for some considerable time. The chances of Germans, French and Greeks willing to fight and die, or watch their countryment fight and die, in a difficult invasion across the Channel is negligible.

    One day the EU might have an army, navy and air force with some allegiance to the EU as a state. But it has none of that yet. NEither does it have, outside its own buildings, among the general population, any ideology of or allegiance to “the Union”, the prerequisite for the American Yankee invasion of the South.

    Things are not as dark as you think. It’s really the case that we could leave with a phone call. Or I suppose these days, an email. “Dear Rumpy Pumpy, we’re off.”

    • The point about choosing a slower escalator to hell is that there might be a power cut, or the machinery might break down. Labour believes in a totalitarian police state. So do all its main supporter groups – even if they often disagree over things like the design of letterheads. The Tories go along with the idea that freedom must be abolished. But they have one or two scruples about it, and some of their supporter groups need to be lied to or otherwise fixed. It makes just enough difference to justify voting Tory.

      • There isn’t going to be a power cut, and the machinery is not going to break down Sean. I don’t know why you cannot grasp this. You’re a clever man. You can even read Ancient Greek. And yet you advocate voting for Hell, by a marginally slower route.

        I watched a speech a while ago by a “white preservationist” or what have you, talking about how many of his ilk seem to hope they will be saved by society collapsing. He pointed out quite rightly that even if it does, it is unlikely that they (his ideology) would emerge as the Phoenix from the ashes, holding the reins of power. Hence, they must work for change now, rather than sitting around talking about what they would do if this great discontinuity were to occur and end in their favour. He was right.

        But a sudden spontaneous change is phenomenally unlikely to occur anyway. We cannot keep supporting the three main parties. They are not going to change. They will lead us further towards the Progresisve totalitarian state. We must assert ourselves now, and start shifting the Overton window. And if all we can do in electoral regards is register a record vote for UKIP- even if it brings not a single MP- that is far more constructive than the blind idiocy of actively voting for more Progressivism which at most- in Tory rather than Labour hands- will involve marginally more sticks than carrots.

        I repeat, the escalator is not going to develop a fault on its own. The power is not going to go out. We can sit around waiting for some ruption like the collapse of the banking system, but that is not going to be allowed to happen- as we saw in 2008. The Proggies will cling on, throwing everyone below them under the bus, until they are the last thing left. They have to be removed.

  5. Ian is right, I have been suggesting that for some time. We could just, maybe, “tweet” that we have gone, no?
    In fact, if enough Ukippers and europhobes simply all tweeted and texted and facebooked all at once, that we’ve left, perahsp the bastards would believe us?

    It’s worth a try surely. At the very least, it’d be an absolute hoot, and would anger and upset rumpypumby and that barreloso man a lot.

  6. A tweet would be gloriously dismissive. Even better, a text.


  7. “Lisbon includes a formal means of leaving, and in practise, all that would really be required is a phone call to Brussels saying “we’re leaving, cheerio, bye bye”.
    I wish. Yes, there is Lisbon Article 50. But that has been designed so as to make it unworkable. If we get the agreement of all Member States, then yes, it’s straightforward, but that is never going to happen. In which case we have to give two years’ notice, during which time the arrangements are thrashed out. The big problem with this, and it really is the elephant in the room, is that we are excluded from all negotiations during this two year period, while still being bound by the treaties. And if they haven’t bled us dry by then, they can vote themselves more time to do so. It is a scam. I am told Stalin had a similar ‘exit clause’ in the Soviet Constitution.

    I don’t think you realise the change that has taken place with Lisbon. The Lisbon Treaty actually abolished the EU, which was an inter-governmental organisation which derived its authority from the consent of sovereign nations. In its stead it created a new organisation, also called the EU. This new EU is no inter-governmental organisation but a unitary state, which derives its authority from the Constitution for Europe, now renamed the Lisbon Treaty. We are bound by our new constitution, and if we try to leave by any other route than the suicidal Article 50, we shall be acting unlawfully.

    You say the EU doesn’t have an army, navy or air force. You obviously didn’t listen to Barroso’s ‘State of the Union’ address the other day, when he called for just such a thing. Just as he did last year. And what was it Romano Prodi said back in 2000? – “When I was talking about a European army, I was not joking. If you don’t want to call it a European army, don’t call it a European army. You can call it ‘Margaret’, you can call it ‘Mary Ann’, you can find any name,…
    Ok, it’s not operational yet, but they do have the EGF (EU Gendarmerie Force) and Europol. And there are more subtle means at their disposal. We are, or will be shortly, dependent on the French for electricity – all they have to do is threaten to pull the plug on us. Imagine the chaos they could cause.

    You touched on the Yankee invasion of the South, citing an ‘allegiance to the Union’ as a driver of that allegiance. I have never understood this. I mean, I fully understand why a Southerner would want to fight to preserve his way of life, but I cannot for the life of me get my head around what would inspire a Yankee to take up arms against his fellow countrymen and subject himself to the horrors of this bloodiest of conflicts. It makes no sense. If I were a Yankee, I would just say to myself ‘let them go’. They could have had Canada to the north, the CSA in the south, and the USA in the middle, all living amicably side by side. What’s wrong with that?

  8. We can leave any time our political class decides. My problem is that I don’t want to leave until we can be sure of getting rid of the current political class.

  9. By what process? Article 50? In which case how do we overcome the dangers I have spelled out? Or do we just declare UDI like Ian Smith did in Rhodesia and face the consequences?
    The difficulty I foresee with the latter is that whoever puts his head above the parapet to advocate such a move will be committing treason, pretty much as George Washington would have done if he hadn’t won the war. At the very least we will be in violation of the Constitution, which we only recently agreed to be bound by. and the EU will be within their rights to enforce that Constitution.
    You see, my starting point is that the EU cannot survive without us as a Member State, and there is nothing they will not do to keep us in.
    Would you like to address these concerns rather than just dismissing them?

  10. Hugo,

    You’re being too legalist. You’re treating the law as being an existent entity, and your particular interpretation as being objective.

    As stated above, even if your interpretation is correct- and it is a very extreme one- any law system has only the existence that the force behind it provides. There is no force behind the EU constitution. It is just words.

    As to “treason”; get a grip. There is no such crime in the EU.

    Anyway, who is this “we” of which you speak? Didn’t you announce the other day that you have cast aside your Britishness to become an American?

  11. It is tragic that Alternative For Germany party just failed to get into Parliament – had they done so they would have put down a maker for the next election (which will be fought under very different circumstances – the circumstances of a terrible international economic mess that will make 2008 look like a picnic).

    As for the Euro – whatever one thinks of it in theory, in practice the European Central Bank and the member governments have broken their “legally binding” rules (bailouts and money printing R us).

    This is what the Alternative for Germany party was trying to explain – but a party of mild mannered law professors was libelled as “racists” (and other such) in a disgusting smear campaign.

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  13. Ian – which bit of my interpretation is ‘extreme’? The Constitution for Europe a.k.a. Lisbon Treaty is our constitution now, and has been since 2009. It provides a mechanism for withdrawal under Article 50. So far so objective. That mechanism is so fraught with danger that it is suicidal, in my opinion. Now I may be venturing into the realms of the subjective, as there are many interpretations of the way it may play out.
    Actually there aren’t many, because not many people have thought it through.
    Where it gets interesting, of course, is that many will challenge my opening statement, citing Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the body of Common Law etc as being our de facto Constitution. Such people will say we can just tell Brussels to get stuffed and walk away.
    I wish it were so, but times have moved on. What would happen in such an event, in my (subjective) opinion, is that Brussels would say the Constitution for Europe trumps our ancient British constitution, and they would be right, since EU law supersedes domestic law and has done since 1957, or 1972 in our case.
    We would of course dispute this. And who would be the final arbiter? The ECJ of course.
    Then we’re back in the old situation where Brussels refuses to recognise our ‘abdication’ and we refuse to recognise their negation of it.
    All roads seem to end up with this kind of stalemate. I (subjectively) believe this can only be resolved by force or the credible threat of force.
    In my (subjective) opinion, I reckon a few well placed arrests by the EU gendarmerie, combined with threats of further arrests, will be enough to do the job.
    Objectively, they will be acting quite legally, since we will the ones who are in breach of EU law by violating our Constitution..
    This is all so new, after centuries of stability, that it’s hard to get your head around it.