German Parties Create Mini Fantasy Worlds
A miniature railway museum in Hamburg has given the country's six largest political parties a small plot of "land" to show off their visions of a future Germany, which include gay blood donation, Bavarian festivals and members of the far right taking a beating.
Because of the way Germany's electoral system works, parties can rarely realize their political visions without having to make concessions to at least one coalition partner. But recently, Miniatur Wonderland, a Hamburg miniature railway museum, gave the country's main political players the opportunity to create their very own model of a perfect Germany in the run-up to the election.
The exhibition was first held four years ago as an attempt to familiarize voters with political concepts ahead of the 2009 general election. "In times of political apathy, I would like our visitors to gain a completely different, entertaining insight into political parties and election manifestos," Frederick Braun, co-founder of Miniatur Wonderland, told reporters on Tuesday. The organizers have also injected a degree of competitiveness into the project: until Sept. 20, visitors will have the opportunity to vote for what they see as the most riveting utopia.
A Perfect Germany
Having invested a total of 4,000 hours into the project, the parties created models that mirrored their own specific policies. The Christian Democrats' heavily featured the European Union flag and a black policeman guiding children and elderly people across a road suggested successful integration. The CSU, meanwhile, pictured a return to traditional Bavarian ideals, with miniature Germans enjoying the region's annual Maypole festival.
The business-friendly FDP -- currently still in a coalition with the CDU -- envisioned a debt-free Germany, symbolized by a giant zero in the middle of a bustling market square. Their model of a perfect Germany also featured gay parents standing in line to donate blood -- a manifestation of the party's traditionally liberal stance on gay rights. (Gay men are currently not allowed to donate blood and same-sex couples do not have the right to adopt in Germany.)
Taking a more abstract approach, the SPD's miniature utopia featured a series of model citizens building a bridge to close the gap between "education" and "equal opportunities." It also included model Germans climbing up a miniature "education staircase" carved from the inside of a book in order to improve their living standards.
Elsewhere, the Green Party -- which has recently been dwindling at the polls -- showed its commitment to sustainable energy and agriculture. The party also turned the challenge on its head by including a delapidated headquarters of the right-wing extremist National Democrats (NPD). An elderly lady, among others, was shown engaging in what looks like a violent confrontation outside the NPD building.
The Left Party's model also included a dystopian element: a giant surveillance center allowing the government to spy on ordinary citizens -- no doubt a reference to the NSA surveillance scandal that has rocked Germany in recent months.