coalition politics

Never forget that the Conservatives - who spent their election campaign slating Jeremy Corbyn for not condemning the IRA totally, who called him a terrorist sympathiser - are now in a partnership with a party that are literally formed by members of the Ulster Resistance, a terrorist group on the other side of that conflict.

Never forget that the Conservatives - who told the NHS and the fire service and the police force that there’s no “magic money tree” when they asked about cuts to their pay and funding and pensions - just paid that same terrorist group £1billion to gain that support from them.

Never forget that the Conservatives just bribed their way into clinging onto power and at the same time showed themselves for how little they really care about the country, and how little moral resolve they have.

as pride month slowly winds to a close, this is your fun daily reminder that hyperspecific identity labels are like fine if you want to use them to personally try to understand your relationships with sex and gender, but to pretend even for a second that they provide coherent commentary about whether/how you’re affected by oppression such as homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny is woefully misinformed and potentially detrimental to the process of learning which power structures you benefit from and which ones you’re oppressed by

additionally, it’s potentially harmful to others (especially younger people!) bc it can a] prevent them from working through internalized shit to figure out their own identities b] trivialize the oppression faced by gay/bi/trans folks and c] further useless identity politics and respectability politics at the hands of people who don’t want to admit they receive sociopolitical benefits over others, which d] takes away from the community goals of, say, helping homeless lgbt people, helping lgbt addicts, helping lgbt hiv+ folks, helping to educate communities about what it means to be lgbt to reduce homophobia and transphobia, etc

when political coalitions such as the lgbt community, formed from the blood, sweat, and tears of lesbians, gay men, bi people, and trans people (and notably trans women, especially twoc) to combat violent oppression, are watered down to “this is a nice place where every single person can be included if they say so” it’s spitting in the faces of those who fought for us, for our rights, for our futures. making this an all-inclusive, “just grab some latin or greek roots and make up your own identity!” free-for-all (which also ignores that every single person has their own distinct and unique experience with gender and sex, btw) shows blatant disregard and disrespect to those who built this community for us. it needs to stop.

Germany 101: German Federal Elections

On September 24th 61.5 million German voters will decide on the central decision in their democracy: who should represent them in Parliament and eventually govern the country? Elections to the German Bundestag (like our House of Representatives) are held about every four years, with the last election having been held in fall of 2013.

The Basics

In grade school, most Germans are taught about the five principles in the Basic Law which stipulate that the members of the Bundestag be elected in “general, direct, free, equal and secret elections”. “General” means that all German citizens are able to vote once they have reached the age of 18. The elections are “direct” because citizens vote for their representatives directly without the mediation of delegates to an electoral college. “Free” means that no pressure of any kind may be exerted on voters. “Equal” means that each vote cast carries the same weight with respect to the composition of the Bundestag. “Secret” means that each individual must be able to vote without others learning which party or candidate he or she has chosen to support.

Where Do You Vote?

Germans have the options of voting at polling stations for example in community centers or schools, or sending in their vote by mail.

So. Many. Parties.

Germany has a lot more political parties than the United States. This is due to the fact that the German electoral system uses a proportional system, which means that all parties get a share of the available seats that reflect their share of the popular vote. However, not to have too many political factions which would make the decision making process nearly impossible – and Parties can get pretty specific as to what they stand for – Germany implemented the “five per cent clause” which means a party needs at least five percent of the votes cast to be represented in the Bundestag.

According to the German Research Institute the following parties are likely to be represented in the next German Bundestag, as they are expected to satisfy the five per cent clause:

  • CDU/CSU (the Union parties): a political alliance of the two parties representing conservative Christian-democratic policies, political home of the current Chancellor Angela Merkel and part of the governing “grand coalition”
  • SPD: the center-left social democratic party promoting “socially just” policies, the other member of the currently governing “grand coalition”
  • Die Linke: “the left” party – a democratic socialist and left-wing populist party
  • BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN: the green party which traditionally focuses on topics such as environmental protection
  • FDP: the “free democratic” party - a (classical) liberal political party
  • AfD: a right-wing populist and Eurosceptic party newly founded in 2013

First and Second Vote

Voters actually have two decisions to make when they go to their polling booth.  This part can get tricky.

The first vote is for the representative of your district. There are 299 electoral districts in Germany and the winner of each district gets a seat in the Bundestag.

The second vote is debatably the more important vote, which is cast not for a person but for a party. The number of seats a party gets in the Bundestag is based on what proportion they get of the second votes. Since the first votes for district representatives take up 299 seats of the Bundestag, the remaining 299 seats are filled up by representatives of each party until each party is proportionally represented.

And now it’s going to get really complicated (also for Germans, believe it or not): In case a party gets more directly elected candidates by the first votes than proportional seats by the second votes, these candidates nonetheless remain part of the new Bundestag. This is called an “Überhangmandat”. The other parties then get seats added proportionally which makes the Bundestag even bigger. The last four years, because of this phenomenon there were in total 631 Members of the German Bundestag instead of the legally foreseen 598.

Coalitions

“Coalition” is not a word used in American politics. Coalitions are alliances formed by different parties in the Bundestag to end up with a group that makes up more than 50% of the seats. Traditionally the party with the most votes tries to form a coalition first. Typically coalitions have been comprised by two parties in the past, but in the future coalitions of three or more parties could be a reality. Why do this? Due to the voting system which is a proportional and not a majority one, this is in most cases the only way to create a majority in the Bundestag which is necessary to pass laws. The coalition parties tend to negotiate a coalition agreement at the start of their cooperation which lays out their policy goals for the coming legislative period. Though the majority party within the coalition typically has more sway in what stance the coalition will take on certain issues – such as who the Chancellor will be – the smaller party benefits from the coalition by typically receiving several Minister positions (think Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, etc.) which are filled with members of their party. They might also enforce some stances on their core political issues as long as they can get the “bigger” coalition partner to agree in the negotiations.

Wrap Up

  • German elections are general, direct, free, equal, and secret
  • Germans vote in person or via mail
  • There are a bunch of parties to choose from representing the full political spectrum from far left to far right
  • Two votes: a first vote for a specific candidate representing your district and a second vote for your party determining the number of seats per party
  • A Coalition is formed after all votes are in to create a group that holds more than 50% of the Bundestag seats

Got more questions? Shoot them to us in the comments below!

and, frankly, don’t tout stonewall’s legacy if you’re a separatist. stonewall is the epitome of what lgbt solidarity - lgbt NONWHITE coalition politics - looks like. you had black butch lesbians, latina and black trans women, gay and bisexual men of color, and a bunch of other lgbt people come together to resist that night. all of those people were friends, comrades, allies, and partners. protests like stonewall or the gay & lesbian march on washington are only possible because of lgbt solidarity, not separatism. strides in lgbt rights occur because of coalitions, not separatism. 

The mods running @white-sapphics are the quintessential examples of how racism and transmisogyny often overlap, and how white radical feminists have always aligned themselves with reactionary right-wing ideologies to supersede racial progress. I encourage every wlwoc and trans woman to block this blog, as it’s spewing some pretty generic white nationalist rhetoric. Whether the mods are trolls or not is not clear at this point (half of me thinks they are and half of me thinks the blog is genuine), but regardless the kinds of things they’re saying are detrimental to coalition politics. They also serve as a humorous reminder that white wlw are as racist as their straight counterparts and nothing about them is radical or revolutionary at all, no matter how much they want to pretend otherwise. White wlw have a habit of victimizing themselves and clinging to their identity politics. When they aren’t busy tearing each other apart over lateral aggression in wlw circles or arguing over who’s more oppressed and who’s more radical and who’s more sapphic, they come together to lash out against wlwoc. It’s amusing to witness. 

On this morning’s Today programme, Tory MP Owen Paterson said that as part of its coalition agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party, the May government will introduce a bill to reduce the term limit on abortions.

Not only is this government willing to openly violate the Good Friday agreement (which requires the Westminster government to be a neutral arbitrator in Northern Ireland), but it’s also perfectly happy to use women’s bodies as a bargaining chip for its own clutching on to power.

June Must End May

“In their landmark study, Black Power:The Politics of Liberation, Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton (in 1967) wrote about the profound limitations of ‘the coalition doctrine’, ‘a strongly held view int his society that the best – indeed, the only – way for black people to win their political and economic rights is by forming coalitions with … sympathetic organizations and forces’ (Ture and Hamilton 1992: 58). While eager to debunk the caricature of Black Power as a‘separatist’ political tendency opposed on principle to multiracial alliance, the authors attempt to clarify the pitfalls of any coalition politics that operated upon an inadequate understanding of the relations of power that condition them. They note the inevitability of coalition, but not without insisting that certain questions be addressed and certain mis-conceptions be rectified before the effort can be considered politically intelligent.  One of the most incisive challenges posed by Ture and Hamilton’s historic intervention is determining whether potential allies of black political initiatives have as ‘their central goal the necessarily total revamping of the society’ (Ture and Hamilton 1992: 60). In considering the legacy of Black Power for present purposes, the question we face is the following: is the political desire of non-blacks for coalition with blacks undermined to the extent that the former groups ‘accept the American system and want only – if at all –to make peripheral, marginal reforms in it’ (1992: 60), a social formation for which the exclusion of the category of racial blackness is a sine qua non? In this light, the analysis of this ultimately conservative allegiance and the proprieties of coalition it demands are matters of importance for a critical intellectual and political practice that does not condone the pieties of the new black/non-black division: ‘congratulating the will to US class-power as unmediated resistance’ (Spivak 1999: xii) and promoting the orthodoxy that ‘a hostile posture toward resident blacks must be struck at the Americanizing door beforeit will open’ (Morrison 1993: 57).”

-Jared Sexton, “Proprieties of Coalition: Blacks, Asians,and the Politics of Policing”

Sweet Jessica Christ, my disdain for Theresa May truly knows no bounds.

So the short version here: After spending the entire campaign pushing the lines that Jeremy Corbyn’s policy proposals are unaffordable (the phrase ‘magic money tree’ was mentioned just enough times to make me want to take an axe to whoever says it) and that he’d lead a ‘coalition of chaos’ if elected, here is where we currently stand in terms of our government post-election:

Theresa May lost her party’s majority and is clinging onto power with a weakened minority by signing a confidence and supply agreement with the bigoted regressive fucks known as the DUP. And to secure this, she made a deal with them for £1 billion.

That’s not a typo. 

Theresa May, Mrs. Strong and Stable, is propping up her minority government with a backwater party from Northern Ireland and having the taxpayers pay £1 billion for the privilege of this ‘government’ existing.

Labour’s policies to benefit actual people are unaffordable claptrap but £1 billion to prop up a Tory minority government? No problem mate, cash or cheque?

I fucking hate these arseholes with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns.

change.org
#Winston - NO COALITION WITH THE DUP - MAY OUT! @Postmanpratt1
Theresa May said there will NOT be a coalition of CHAOS. She is now forming a minority government with the DUP. Here is a list of DUP stances, in case you need a reminder: The DUP want to make it legal to discriminate against anyone from the LGBT community. The DUP want children...

For God’s sake sign this and then share it.

LONG POST BUT GOOD I THINK

Hello tumblr! I would like to take the time to explain some of this British/Irish politics stuff that is happening right now. I’m not an expert, but apparently neither is anyone else (including Theresa May), so I’m going to run down what I know, so that everyone who wants to understand can get up to speed (as much as I’m able to get you there). If anyone who is an expert wants to correct me or add anything then please, please do.

(Quick note: Remember that the UK is a country, but it also made of other countries including Northern Ireland.)

First, some history: Britain has had a very tumultuous relationship with Ireland basically forever. There’s a LOT to go over, so I’ll just kind of massively over-simplify and say that Ireland became a British colony and fought its way out until only 6 counties were undecided about being part of the UK.* Conflict known as The Troubles started in the ‘60s.

The Troubles: The counties of Northern Ireland consisted (and still consist) of a mixture of two key ideologies; those who considered themselves British (unionists), and those who considered themselves Irish (republicans).** The former, wanted Northern Ireland to stay as part of the UK, but the latter wanted Northern Ireland to rejoin the rest of Ireland as one sovereign state - they arguably settled into a kind of a ‘draw’*** in the 1920s. When the fighting began in the ‘60s, the republicans were, rightly, pissed that they were being discriminated against by the unionist authorities - they wanted to be treated fairly, and asking and then demanding it clearly wasn’t working, so they resorted to force. This kicked off thirty years of fighting, involving a variety of paramilitary groups, activists, Northern Irish police, politicians, and the British army. Thousands of people died (mostly civilians), and there was bombing throughout the UK. Eventually, after a lot of work, a peace-deal was brokered: The Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

The Good Friday Agreement: In order to bring an end to the both the fighting, but also the state-sponsored discrimination that started it, a contract was brought up between the republicans and the unionists. It’s pretty complex, but some key points are these: 

  • A forced coalition of republicans and unionists must run the country 
  • The majority of people want to stay in the United Kingdom but there are loooads who want to be part of Ireland: If there is ever a time when this switches, and the majority wants to unite with the Republic of Ireland, then the UK is bound to allow it.
    • (A reason this is so groundbreaking is because Britain had never before recognised that both these ideas were totally legitimate)

Key to this contract is the concept of ‘impartiality’. To properly manage a country with such distinct and opposing viewpoints, you have to be emphatically impartial between the two (and the legitimacy of both viewpoints therefore implicit). This is why the forced coalition is so important. 

That was in 1998, and Northern Ireland has pretty much been peaceful ever since (there is the odd bombing every now and then) but obviously it’s kind of part of the whole deal that the two sides will never see eye-to-eye completely. Unfortunately…

Recent UK political history: I won’t go into too much detail, but basically the Conservative party were having a bit of a power struggle and David Cameron (the Prime Minister at the time) decided to sort it out by saying he’d hold a referendum about whether the UK should be part of the EU. And in 2016, he kind of had to follow through with that. It was a dumb decision with no forethought whatsoever, and the discussions around it were of the same ilk. Anyway, as we all know, without any idea what would happen once the decision was made, the UK slightly voted to Leave more than to Remain (this is known as Brexit because of course it is a dumb name like that). David Cameron resigned because whoops, and we got Theresa May - we didn’t get to vote for her or anything, we just got her. 

This year, she decided she wanted a more firm support to go into Brexit negotiations with Europe, so she called a snap election. Elections are typically every 5 years and our last one was only in 2015, so it was early. LITTLE DID SHE KNOW, good old Jeremy Corbyn (who I could talk about at length as well but I won’t) and his Labour crew brought their A-Game, and destroyed the Tories as much as they could without actually winning the election.

Basically, Britain has a dumb system called ‘first-past-the-post’. The gist of it is as follows: Each political party has their own leader, and that leader becomes the prime minister if their party wins. When you go to vote, you vote for a local MP for your constituency (or local area) representing his or her party and that counts towards the national wins - or seats - of that party. For example, you might vote for a local Labour candidate and, if that Labour candidate wins, their seats are added to the Labour party seats to see whether or not the country wants them doing a good rule of the whole place. To have a strong mandate, i.e. to be large-and-in-chaaarge, a political party has to get a ‘majority government’ - this is defined as winning 326 seats. If they don’t get that, they must form a coalition with another party to pick up the seats that they’re missing - this tends to be the biggest party teaming up with one of the much smaller ones. In 2010 nobody got enough seats****, and the Tories took over from the Labour party by getting the Lib Dems into a coalition with them; then they somehow got even more control in the 2015 election by getting a majority government on their own little leggies (no Lib Dems required).

In this election, again, no party got enough seats - so the Tories had to try and get a coalition going. But there was a problem! All the other parties they could turn to, had said they would absolutely not form a coalition with them. WHAT TO DO? Well, remember we were talking about Northern Ireland earlier…

I KEEP THINKING I’M NEAR THE END AND THEN MORE INFORMATION IS HAPPENING: Northern Ireland has for a while been run by a coalition between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin. The former is unionist (obviously); the latter is republican. This had been going pretty well, till something called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This was a system to help businesses move towards renewable energy sources, thereby reducing UK carbon emissions. Essentially, businesses were given subsidies to change their heating methods over from non-renewable sources. But it was done in a shambolic way - people were basically being paid to just have their heat on aaaall the time, and there was no cap on subsidies so they could just heat their way to an unethical, but apparently perfectly legal, fortune. SCANDAL HAPPENED when it was revealed that this whole thing was going to cost Northern Ireland huuuundreds of millions of pounds and also look what a hash job everyone has done. Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP was asked to stand down while an enquiry happened but she refused and, in protest, the leader of Sinn Féin (Martin McGuinness) resigned from his post (and then subsequently resigned from the party and then died). Sinn Féin refused to put someone else forward to lead their half of the coalition, so Arlene Foster couldn’t lead either! Northern Ireland, therefore, had to have an election even though they had JUST HAD ONE in 2016. So they had another in March and the unionists headed into shaky ground - they lost a whole lot of seats, so only had one more than Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin continued to demand that Arlene Foster step down, and Arlene Foster continued to refuse, meaning they still couldn’t form a government. They were given a deadline to form one, or they would be put under Direct Rule (this means Westminster taking over running Northern Ireland), which is NOT IDEAL considering. (Also Brexit is happening!!! Ireland is part of Europe!!! The Northern Irish border with Ireland is a sensitive thing!!! Nobody talked about this during Brexit and they’re all fucking idiots!!!) The deadline passed, so they extended the deadline… And then Theresa May called a national election! WHAT A CLEVER CLOGS. This fucking idiot called an election in the most unstable time in Northern Ireland since the fucking ‘90s. Northern Ireland now has to go back to the polls once again! So they push back the deadline some more and then the election happens and GUESS FUCKING WHAT…

CLUSTERFUCK: Theresa May, a monumental shitshower of idiocy, doesn’t have enough seats to run the country, and nobody wants to team up with her horrible party, and now she’s fucked! But WAIT, what about the party that is embroiled in a corruption scandal and is currently unable to run its own country? That’s a good idea. Let’s get them involved. Theresa May and the DUP decide to join up. 

Now. Remember a little thing from nearer the beginning of this stupidly long post: The Good Friday Agreement? The culmination of years of peace-process discussions after and through decades of war and terror? The thing the relies on an impartial government? How impartial is the Tories getting in bed with the DUP - the unionists? Not very impartial, if you don’t mind me saying. So now not only is Northern Ireland in a mess over the Cash for Ash scandal, and unable to run itself, but ALSO Theresa May is shitting all over the only real thing that’s kept the peace for nearly 20 years. And we still don’t know what’s happening with the Ireland/NI border! And we still have a deadline for a NI government to be sorted out! And the official plan for when that doesn’t happen is Direct Rule! And you can’t possibly run Direct Rule with one of the coalition parties that is refusing to run the fucking country! And Direct Rule is kind of kryptonite for GFA anyway! IT’S A FUCKING LUDICROUS, ILLEGAL, DANGEROUS MESS. 

And that’s all I have to say about that.


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*That’s not exactly what happened. Ireland was colonised, fought for home rule (which is like being in charge of their area, while still be a British colony), and was partitioned in the 1920s because lots of people in these few Northern counties wanted to be ruled by the British government. The Irish Free State was created soon after, and Northern Ireland had the option to be part of that as well, but their government decided nah.

**This divide invariably fell along Protestant vs Catholic lines which lots of wilfully ill-informed British people will tell you is all the fighting was about. Actually there is a very long history related to this divide, which involved purposeful subjugation of Catholics in Ireland, to the point that the Irish Potato Famine could be considered attempted genocide of Irish Catholics by the British (protestants).

***Northern Ireland has since had the right to leave the UK if that’s what its people want, but that hasn’t happened and… Well, read on.

****This is known as a ‘hung parliament’. Hung parliaments do not happen a lot. there was one in 2010, as detailed above, and I think the one last before that was way back in the ‘70s. 

women’s bodies are currently being used as a bargaining chip so our oppressive government can cling to power by forming a coalition with DUP, a party from NI that only gained 1% of votes which is known for being racist, islamophobic, extremely anti lgbt (they called us an abombination and compared them to pedophiles ), anti abortion (abortion is already illegal in northern island) and have ties to terrorism. A coalition that no one voted for. If the tories weren’t bad enough already they just got a hell of a lot worse.