FAQ

What do all these words even MEAN? I don’t know anything about German politics!

I’m going to write a glossary… when I get around to it.

OK. But who is Martin Schulz?

He is the candidate for Chancellor of Germany of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), running against Angela Merkel. Schulz is the former President of the European Parliament.

What’s all the fuss about?

Schulz has a real chance of unseating Angela Merkel, which would be a Big Fucking Deal, to use the words of Joe Biden.

He’s also the subject of a small army of internet memesters. After Trump’s victory, a lot of people pointed to the propaganda value of having places like /r/the_donald and 4chan spread pro-Trump memes throughout the internet. /r/the_schulz is a “semi-serious satire” of those memes. They use a lot of the same language (“high energy”, “no brakes”, “MAGA”) except translated into German (“höhe Energie”, “keine Bremsen”, “MEGA” or “Make Europe Great Again”) and deployed for a very different political purpose.

The joke is that Martin Schulz is about as different a politician as you can get from Donald Trump. Trump trashes the EU on a regular basis; Schulz has spent most of his career within EU institutions. Trump is a right-wing populist; Schulz is a center left populist. Trump wants to build walls; Schulz wants to build bridges!

When is the election?

September 24, 2017.

Who runs this blog?

A random American college student named Oliver Bok with an interest in German politics and the SPD.

But… why?

I like German, and social democracy, and memes, and journalism, so I thought this would be a way to pursue all my interests at once.

As a political nerd, I also think that the upcoming German federal election is extraordinarily interesting. A year ago, everyone thought that Angela Merkel would easily win reelection and the SPD wouldn’t pose a threat. Now, thanks to Martin “der Gottkanzler” Schulz, Merkel looks vulnerable.

This election could have significant ramifications for the political economy of Europe. If Schulz wins, he could shift EU policy away from neoliberalism and austerity. That would be huge and, in my opinion, a very positive development.

A victory for Schulz would also send a strong message against Donald Trump and global right-wing populism (the “nationalist international”, as I heard Yanis Varoufakis call it).

The goal is to help an English-speaking audience make sense of all this and maybe provide an outside perspective on German politics that Germans might find interesting as well.

What kind of content is on this blog?

I’ll try to post a daily “meme of the day” translated into English and a post commenting on some aspect of the election every few days. My senior thesis, which is on Gerhard Schröder and the Hartz reforms, is due April 15. After I’m done with that, I’ll try to post more often. Hohe Energie!

Is this blog objective?

No. I’m left-wing. If I was German, I’d vote for the SPD or die Linke. The content on this blog will reflect that. However, if Schulz says or does something I disagree with, I’ll say so. I’ll also try to provide analysis that will be useful to people of any political stripe. I’m not in just for the memes.

What makes you such an expert?

I’m not an expert. I do have a certain amount of background knowledge and a working facility with German that is far from fluent. I also like writing. That’s it. If I get something wrong (and I will), tell me so!