The mission in Afghanistan and the recent federal and regional elections

Since the Ger­man par­lia­ment has sent sol­diers to Afghanistan, there has been a con­tro­ver­sial debate in Ger­many about the mean­ing and pur­pose of the mis­sion of the Bun­deswehr (Ger­man armed forces). The Kun­duz Province in north­ern Afghanistan, which was regard­ed as rel­a­tive­ly safe, has devel­oped into a dan­ger­ous area for Ger­man sol­diers. Since 2002 a total of 43 sol­diers of the Bun­deswehr have died.11Tagesschau.de: Tal­iban-Angriff in Afghanistan: Bestürzung über Tod deutsch­er Sol­dat­en, avail­able at: http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/afghanistan1740.html (last access: 10 May 2010). In April 2010 sev­en Ger­man sol­diers were killed where­by the oper­a­tion is becom­ing increas­ing­ly unpop­u­lar in the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion. A poll con­duct­ed by ARD tele­vi­sion in April showed that 70 per­cent of the respon­dents demand a with­draw­al from Afghanistan.22Tagesschau.de: ARD-Umfrage. Rück­halt in der Bevölkerung für den Afghanistan-Ein­satz schwindet, avail­able at: http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/afghanistanumfrage148.html (last access: 10 May 2010). The Bun­destag, how­ev­er, agreed on a new Afghanistan man­date for one year in Feb­ru­ary 2010 and increased the staff ceil­ing of 850 sol­diers to 5,350.33Bun­desregierung: Neues Afghan­si­tan­man­dat : Mehr Aus­bil­dung und Schutz, avail­able at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Artikel/2010/02/2010–02-09-neues-afghanistanmandat.html (last access: 10 May 2010). In a gov­ern­ment state­ment from Thurs­day, 22 April 2010, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel (Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union – CDU) defend­ed the oper­a­tion and called voic­es for an imme­di­ate with­draw­al, as demand­ed by the Left Par­ty (DIE LINKE), irre­spon­si­ble. She also called for more sup­port from soci­ety for the sol­diers.44Faz.net: Merkels Regierungserk­lärung. Afghanistan-Man­dat über jeden Zweifel erhaben, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/RubDDBDABB9457A437BAA85A49C26FB23A0/Doc~E9199C98DA0A14E92BA83531604718C96~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 10 May 2010).

The air strike in Sep­tem­ber 2009 on two tanker trucks in Afghanistan, ordered by Colonel Georg Klein, killed 142 peo­ple includ­ing many civil­ians and caused a pre­lim­i­nary pro­ceed­ings from the Office of the Fed­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor; more­over, it pro­voked inter­na­tion­al crit­i­cism of the Bun­deswehr from the for­eign min­is­ters of Swe­den and France, as well as from the Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter José Luis Rodríguez Zap­a­tero.55Spiegel Online: The End of Inno­cence in Afghanistan. The Ger­man Air Strike Has Changed Every­thing, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,648925,00.html (last access: 10 May 2010). The pre­lim­i­nary pro­ceed­ings have been stopped now and the Union par­ties – CDU and the Chris­t­ian Social Union (CSU) – call for a swift end of the Kun­duz-Inquiry.66Faz.net: Union will Kun­dus-Auss­chuss been­den. Luftan­griff erschöpft erörtert?, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub0CCA23BC3D3C4C78914F85BED3B53F3C/Doc~E023AFDF9452F40DB879D9D58847C662F~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 10 May 2010). The attack caused the res­ig­na­tion of Min­is­ter of Labour and Social Affairs Franz Josef Jung (CDU) in Novem­ber 2009, who was Min­is­ter of Defence at the time of the inci­dent. The rea­son behind this deci­sion can be traced back to the wil­ful default of infor­ma­tion by the Fed­er­al Min­istry of Defence about civil­ian casu­al­ties, which had been kept secret despite Jung hav­ing knowl­edge of them.77Den­kler, T.: Jung-Rück­tritt. Zapfen­stre­ich für den Prob­lem­min­is­ter, avail­able at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/555/495877/text/ (last access: 10 May 2010). In this regard, the present Min­is­ter of Defence zu Gut­ten­berg (CSU) has changed his for­mer posi­tion and has now declared that the air strike was “mil­i­tar­i­ly inap­pro­pri­ate” after review­ing all doc­u­ments.88Faz.net: Luftschlag bei Kun­dus. Gut­ten­berg: „Mil­itärisch nicht angemessen“, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub0CCA23BC3D3C4C78914F85BED3B53F3C/Doc~EE8E18848093F488F85966D5BEF6DC8B7~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 10 May 2010). To this day the ques­tion of guilt has not been ful­ly answered.

With the elec­tions to the Bun­destag on 27 Sep­tem­ber 2009, the grand coali­tion end­ed and the new gov­ern­ment of Chris­t­ian Democ­rats and Free Democ­rats (FDP) began its work. The two par­ties formed a coali­tion gov­ern­ment under Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel, who regained pow­er for the sec­ond time. The CDU won, togeth­er with its sis­ter par­ty CSU, 33.8 per­cent of votes, the Social Democ­rats (SPD), with 23 per­cent of votes, achieved their low­est result since the Sec­ond World War.99Das Endergeb­nis der Bun­destagswahl 2009, avail­able at: http://www.bundestag.de/btg_wahl/wahlinfos/startseite/index.jsp (last access: 10 May 2010). Cru­cial to the next elec­tions to the Bun­destag and the major­i­ty in the Bun­desrat, the upper house of the Ger­man par­lia­ment, was the region­al elec­tion in North Rhine-West­phalia on 9 May 2010. Already in August 2009, the last two gov­ern­ments exclu­sive­ly formed by CDU in Thuringia and Saar­land were vot­ed out of pow­er in Ger­man region­al elec­tions, endan­ger­ing the major­i­ty held by CDU/CSU and FDP in the Bun­desrat. After the elec­toral defeat of the rul­ing CDU-FDP coali­tion in North-Rhine West­falia in May 2010 the gov­ern­ing par­ties have lost their major­i­ty in the Bun­desrat. This has a sig­nif­i­cant effect on the nation­al polit­i­cal land­scape in Ger­many, because the gov­ern­ment will need the sup­port of the oppo­si­tion par­ties for major pol­i­cy changes, such as tax cuts and reforms in the pub­lic health sec­tor.

    Footnotes

  • 1Tagesschau.de: Tal­iban-Angriff in Afghanistan: Bestürzung über Tod deutsch­er Sol­dat­en, avail­able at: http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/afghanistan1740.html (last access: 10 May 2010).
  • 2Tagesschau.de: ARD-Umfrage. Rück­halt in der Bevölkerung für den Afghanistan-Ein­satz schwindet, avail­able at: http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/afghanistanumfrage148.html (last access: 10 May 2010).
  • 3Bun­desregierung: Neues Afghan­si­tan­man­dat : Mehr Aus­bil­dung und Schutz, avail­able at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Artikel/2010/02/2010–02-09-neues-afghanistanmandat.html (last access: 10 May 2010).
  • 4Faz.net: Merkels Regierungserk­lärung. Afghanistan-Man­dat über jeden Zweifel erhaben, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/RubDDBDABB9457A437BAA85A49C26FB23A0/Doc~E9199C98DA0A14E92BA83531604718C96~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 10 May 2010).
  • 5Spiegel Online: The End of Inno­cence in Afghanistan. The Ger­man Air Strike Has Changed Every­thing, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,648925,00.html (last access: 10 May 2010).
  • 6Faz.net: Union will Kun­dus-Auss­chuss been­den. Luftan­griff erschöpft erörtert?, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub0CCA23BC3D3C4C78914F85BED3B53F3C/Doc~E023AFDF9452F40DB879D9D58847C662F~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 10 May 2010).
  • 7Den­kler, T.: Jung-Rück­tritt. Zapfen­stre­ich für den Prob­lem­min­is­ter, avail­able at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/555/495877/text/ (last access: 10 May 2010).
  • 8Faz.net: Luftschlag bei Kun­dus. Gut­ten­berg: „Mil­itärisch nicht angemessen“, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub0CCA23BC3D3C4C78914F85BED3B53F3C/Doc~EE8E18848093F488F85966D5BEF6DC8B7~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 10 May 2010).
  • 9Das Endergeb­nis der Bun­destagswahl 2009, avail­able at: http://www.bundestag.de/btg_wahl/wahlinfos/startseite/index.jsp (last access: 10 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained there­in.