Local democracy is a good thing. It is also one of the good things that you can have too much of. After almost sixty years of territorial reforms, Rhineland-Palatinate, a state that harbours about 5% of Germany’s total population, is still home to about 2,500 of the nation’s ~11,000 municipalities.
There may be an EP election on May 26, but the real fight is over the various local offices that are up for grabs. We will not just choose the village mayor but also 24 members of the village council, 44 members of the town council, and 50 members of the district council, all by open-list PR. As a matter of course, there is also a directly elected town mayor and a directly elected head of the district, but they have longer terms (I think).
Think this is bonkers? You are right. And it gets better: while the mainstream parties (and some of the more fringe ones) dominate candidate recruitment in the cities, here in the suburbs we get unaffiliated lists.
Last week, yours truly reported on the retired general who stepped in as a caretaker mayor and now runs as an independent, because he wants to continue as our village mayor. His opponent is the local CDU’s ex-honcho who was also the former mayor’s (now disgraced) deputy. In the heated local political climate, that would have been the end of his career. And so he set up his own list.
Unaffiliated lists don’t benefit from professional templates for campaign material that party lists can rely on (although this can go horribly wrong, too). Also, all the good colours associated with politics are already taken.
And so our hero opted for local design talent and purple, the colour beloved by feminists, the artist formerly known as Prince, and (protestant) priests. The result is this.
On the left, behold the man blessing the vineyard, with a little help from his purple tie. In the middle, see his acolytes. The lady at the very centre of the composition is his loving wife, who believes so hard in his mission that she has donned a matching purple blouse. The merry folks are posing on a flight of stairs that leads down to the local protestant church. I rest my case.
I have added the rays and the slogan. Everything else is (sadly) real.