Only this time they are marching to the left (they alternate). My definition of a German Gartenzwerg (garden gnome) goes like this: The ultimate statement in German Spießbürgertum (petty bourgeois narrow-mindedness and “squareness”) and folkloric kitsch, the German Gartenzwerg has long transcended the traditional realm of tacky garden accessory to secretly become Germany’s true national symbol.

And the garden gnome flag just got passed over to Oskar Lafontaine recently (who could possibly represent “the movement” better than he?) and his Left Party buds from the near east where they are like totally on a roll at the moment dude. Germany’s heart still “beats on the left”, it seems, with a full one third of those recently polled calling themselves that and longing for the good old days when a state was a state and had even more to say than it already does now (hard to believe that that could be possible, I know).

You know, state-run enterprises like the Bahn and power utilities should stay/should have stayed that way, more minimum wage regulation, lower the retirement age, get Germany out of Afghanistan, take from the rich and give to the state, I mean to the poor, introduce the twenty-five hour work week, free organic beer, all that kind of stuff. Talk about outdated and unrealistic proposals – except for the free organic beer one, maybe.

These are all the kinds of traditional demands that conform perfectly to the classical German left “social norm” Märchenwald (magic forest) world that may have existed here for a few minutes once but probably didn’t of course, but what is a Gartenzwerg if not a traditional (mythical?) creature obsessed with conformity?

Anyway, 34 percent is 34 percent (who vote left). And that is a lot. Sort of. You see, you still have to divide it up fairly between the three parties fighting for that 34 percent first (SPD, The Greens, The Left). But I am convinced that they will do so equitably and fairly, orderly little squares that they are.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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