Lectures on the German general elections 2017 by Dr. Simon Franzmann

Event: Regional and International Affairs

In the run-up to the German general elections on September 24th, 2017, FES Beijing Representative Office and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) invited Dr. Simon Franzmann from Heinrich-Heine University at Dusseldorf to hold a series of lectures at academic institutions and China International Radio.

At the main roundtable discussion event at CICIR, Dr. Franzmann initiated his presentation with the peculiarities of this year’s elections. Although being described as “boring” by domestic and international media, Franzmann argued that the current electoral campaign is special for a series of reasons: first, it reflects contemporary emphasis on cultural issues rather than economic ones throughout the German electorate; second, its most exciting component is the post-election coalition building process; third, it exemplifies a general trend in German politics for the traditional parties to shift further towards the political center while leaving space at the margins to create new, ideologically determined, anti-establishment parties.

One of the main points of interest by the audiences at CICIR as well as at a subsequent discussion at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) were the German election’s influence on European integration and Sino-European relations. In this regard, doctor Franzmann emphasized the fact that there is no party in this year’s election that fundamentally opposes European integration, as has been the case in other neighboring countries. In what concerns China, Franzmann pointed out that there has been a gradual shift towards a rather positive representation of said country on the background of the election of Donald Trump as well as growing authoritarianism in countries such as Turkey and Russia.

On September 13th, Dr. Franzmann gave an interview at China International Radio and lectured at Beijing Foreign Language University. Throughout the interview, Dr. Franzmann emphasized the importance of the minor coalition partner in this year’s election and Chancellor Merkel’s strategic policies to ensure her further support outside the CDU’s traditional electorate. Dr. Franzmann’s speech at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) was co-organized by FES and the German Language Division of said university. The students of BFSU grasped the opportunity to ask questions in excellent German on their respective research interests regarding this year’s general elections. Topics of interest included European integration, Germany’s relations with China and the importance of the refugee issue in the elections.

Apart from the lectures given at said institutions, doctor Franzmann held various meetings with Chinese scholars as well as journalists in order to discuss the current political situation of China as well as Sino-German relations.

The radio interview: with CRI can be found at http://english.cri.cn/4926/2017/09/14/4421s954492.htm.

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