The Brief, powered by The International Bromine Council (BSEF) – The final nail in the Bonner Republik’s coffin

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter [Bundestag]

The end of the Christian Social Union’s post-war political supremacy in Bavaria after the state election on 14 October can be described as the final nail in that uniquely German historical phenomenon called “Die Bonner Republik”.

And the election outcome only accelerates the ongoing profound reshuffle of the German political landscape that has slowly unfolded since the fall of the Berlin wall.

The Green Party succeeded where Social-democrats have always failed: to break the almost 70 years of CSU’s supremacy in Bavaria. And this is no accident, a consensus now prevails that the period of “quasi-monarchy” is over in the Free State of Bavaria and political normality, i.e. pluralism, has returned.

In so doing, the Greens tore down the last remnants of what once was the Bonn Republic, or West Germany, whose period stretches between its creation in 1949 to the German reunification on 3 October 1990.

This slice of history, especially the decade before the fall of the Berlin wall, is generally characterised by a strong economic and political stability, with a vision of the world divided between east and west, social-democrats and conservatives, fathers going to work and mothers staying at home.

And boredom.

In his cult book “Generation Golf”, German journalist and author Florian Illies describes life during the last decade of Western Germany, putting into words that middle-class comfort that offered few surprises.

“It was certainly the most boring decade of the 20th century. Everyone was doing fine, one had hardly anything to be afraid of, and when you turned on the TV, you always saw Helmut Kohl, Nicole sang of a little peace, Boris Becker played a bit of tennis, coffee was suddenly called Cappuccino, and that was about it. ”

One can also add that very peculiar haircut called ‘vokuhila’ (aka ‘the mullet‘ – short in the front and long behind), proudly displayed by Dieter Bohlen and Thomas Anders, the duo that formed Modern Talking, that always disconcerted visitors from other Western European countries.

For the visitors, the CSU-Bavaria was the quintessence of the Bonner Republik. The region was prosperous, the landscape idyllic and the people friendly, if sometimes difficult to understand because of their dialect.

The Greens were their most outspoken adversaries.

This is also why this regional election has been so widely scrutinised in Germany: because everyone was aware that a political era came to an end.

There is one piece of the Bonner Republik, though, that still remains and is deeply rooted in Germany: police television drama Tatort, which has been running continuously since 1970.

Just for comparison, Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the longest-serving political leaders in the world, was only 16 then.

A not-quite-16-but-still-young Jean-Claude Juncker.


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The Roundup

By Sam Morgan

European Council president Donald Tusk has called the Irish border question “the Gordian Knot” of the Brexit negotiations. Unfortunately, an Alexander the Great is missing from the ongoing talks. EU leaders haven’t ruled out a deal completely but the chances are evaporating at a rate of knots.

Italy’s budget is now being scrutinised by Commission officials. Will the Berlaymont send it back? Will it grudgingly sign off on it, alienating other debt-ridden countries? We’ll find out for sure soon. Jean-Claude Juncker is aware that his services cannot go too easy on Rome.

France has some new ministers after a long-awaited government reshuffle and some of the world’s biggest tech firms have signed up to an EU code of practice on fake news, albeit a voluntary one.

Kazakhstan’s president sat down with Georgi Gotev to talk ahead of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) later this week. It’s set to be the biggest gathering of world leaders outside of the UN General Assembly.

Shockingly, a third of chemicals are non-compliant with EU rules, thanks to insufficient data. EU foreign affairs chiefs have adopted a new sanctions regime as a response to the Salisbury poisoning.

Gender discrimination is still rife in agriculture around the world, according to a new study, and one French farmer tragically takes their own life every two days, a worrying survey has revealed.

Green parties are a hit across Europe, after elections in Belgium, Luxembourg and Bavaria resulted in ecological forces attracting new voters.

Renewable gas can only have a minimal impact on our energy transition, according to the team that blew the lid off of Dieselgate. Governments continue to back unsustainable agricultural policies due to fear of consumer backlash, a new report suggests.

Friday’s caption competition was well received and it was difficult to pick a winner but American EU Dude’s short Shakespearean effort is our winner. We’ll have more for you soon!

Moedas Meme

Look out for…

Big decisions in the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee and Bill and Melinda Gates are in town, they’ll be meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker.

Views are the author’s

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