German Press Review: No Left-Wing Messiah | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 31.08.2004
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German Press Review: No Left-Wing Messiah

German papers on Tuesday commented on the Republican National Convention in New York City and the Monday demonstrations in the city of Leipzig against the reforms initiated by the German government.

The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung wrote about the Republican National Convention in New York City: “’The fight against terrorism is not to be won’ – this confession of George W. Bush was, at first, surprising," the paper noted. "Because nobody else but the US president was that convinced of the western world’s victory over the hostile fanatics. But his confession is no sign of catharsis. Because with the opening of the Republican Convention the most

important time of the presidential election has now started and Bush is starting to attack. His tactics: To confess small mistakes of the past and, at the same time, to continue using military power.”

The Financial Times Deutschland in Hamburg believed that for his convention, Bush is going “straight into the lion’s den: New York City is cosmopolitan, traditionally more left-wing and almost hated in more conservative parts of the country,” the paper observed, adding that “Bush coming to Manhattan can, at the same time, be seen as a sign of courage as well as a step towards the political center.”

The Thüringer Allgemeine in Erfurt considered George W. Bush’s message to be “clear and comprehensible: 'Whoever wants a strong America that strictly continues its war against terrorism, has to vote for me,'" the daily wrote. "That is why he holds his convention in the very city which was hit the hardest on Sept. 11. That is how he, at the same time, turns all those against him who had warned about further wars and who compared the Iraq war to the war in Vietnam. That is why hundreds of thousands protested against him in New York. And protest is going to rise with every US-soldier killed in Iraq.”

The Handelsblatt in Düsseldorf meanwhile wrote about the Monday demonstrations in Several German cities. It said that this kind of protests had a certain “tradition” in Germany. “As long as things were going well, the legitimacy of political decisions and the authority of those who take these decisions are not called into question," the paper commented. But whenever something unexpected happened, people previously turned to a so-called German special way, or Sonderweg -- in contrast, for instance, to the Anglo-Saxon tradition, concluded the paper.

Also writing about the demonstrations, the B.Z. in Berlin observed: “The radical mixture did, at one time, put pressure on the German political center. But the Weimar Republic was still different”, the paper said: It was the result of the treaty of Versailles (after World War I) and the objection of leading political groups against the republic. Those two prerequisites do not apply today.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung finally wrote about the role of Oskar Lafontaine in the Monday demonstrations: “His hopes of being seen as a popular left-wing messiah by the disappointed masses has burst like a fantasy bubble in the comfortable, escapist exile of the city of Saarbrücken.” According to the paper, Lafontaine did not manage to unify the Monday protesters in East and West to a powerful German movement and to become their figurehead.