Ever heard of the term “ostalgia”? More accurately, it’s spelled ostalgie because it’s a German word, basically meaning “nostalgia for the Ost,” that is, for the old East Germany. Citizens of that erstwhile DDR (German Democratic Republic) had sky-high hopes for their lives once the Wall was torn down and the DDR was folded into what was West Germany; inevitably, those hopes were to a lesser or greater extent disappointed, leading some to pine back for the “good old days” of German socialism in the Eastern third of the country.
You surely didn’t much notice if you are not yourself German, but two weeks back from last Sunday (on 27 January) local elections were held in the (West) German states of Hesse and Lower Saxony. In the latter state, whose capital is Hannover, it is fair to say that “ostalgie” won a seat in the state parliament – and how! The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports on the rise of one Christel Wegner, a trained nurse of some sixty years of age, but also a founding member of the German Communist Party (DKP – Deutsche Kommunistische Partei). Now, it’s not as if she owes her new seat in the Lower Saxon parliament to being directly elected to the position – it doesn’t work that way in the German political system. Rather, the different parties make up their own lists of candidates, and how far down the list you go in giving the candidates seats in the new parliament is a function of how many votes that party receives in the election. Although formally of the DKP, Wegner was nonetheless taken up on the electoral list of the party that calls itself The Left (Die Linke), that did rather better than usual in the 27 January elections. And so Christel Wegner is going to Hannover.
What’s the problem? you may ask. (more…)