The US Election in Germany Posted by Sten on Nov 12, 2020 in Culture, Language
As expected, the US election was a drawn-out process this time with television networks being careful with their projections. The winner was projected only last Friday. As always with the election of a new president in the United States, the whole world was watching – Germany as well. How was the election covered, and what did Merkel have to say about it?
In Germany, the US elections are known as the US-Wahl. The only ones that are really followed and tracked like this are the presidential elections every four years. And while Germany does not have a network that covers the election non-stop like Fox News, MSNBC or CNN, Nachrichtensender (news channels) like Tagesschau ran a live blog similar to the American outlets with continuous updates of Wahlergebnisse (election results) and a Karte (Map) with updates. But not just Tagesschau. Also ZDF has live updates, for example. Not that this doesn’t happen for the German elections – it does.
And yet, there is something about the US-Wahl that gets more excitement, whether that’s the fact that it’s a race for one of the most important offices in the world that is only between two people, or the first-past-the-post system that decides an entire state for whoever gets most votes. Germany has a weird, complicated system that we’ll talk about one day, but it lacks the simplicity that makes the American election so easy to follow and discuss.
You can also find opinions of Germans via #USWahl, #USAWahl and #USWahl2020. Here’s some German election vocabulary:
der Wahlmann, die Wahlleute – “election man”, “election people”, the words for elector(s) of the Electoral College
die Wahlmännerversammlung – Electoral College (however, the term “Electoral College” is used more in German news)
die Stimme – vote
Zweihundertsiebzig Stimmen – two-hundred seventy votes
die Mehrheit – Majority
die Auszählung – (vote) count
die Entscheidung – decision
die Hochburg – stronghold (used for stronghold states for each party)
der Schlachtfeldstaat – battleground state (the German term is not used much; “Swing State” is a more likely term in German news)
die republikanische Partei – Republican Party
die Demokraten – the Democrats
die Umfrage – poll
Chancellor #Merkel congratulates @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. The German-American friendship has proved its worth over many decades, as #9 November, a special day in German history, also reminds us. #Election2020 pic.twitter.com/cf5jXCEZ8X
— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) November 9, 2020
Last Monday, November 9, Merkel gave a speech. November 9 is a significant day in German history. As our Bundeskanzlerin (Federal Chancellor) Angela Merkel said, “wir Deusche denken, wie an jedem 9. November, an das Schlimmste und das Beste unserer Geschichte” (We Germans think, just like every November 9th, about the worst and the best in our history).
The worst that she’s referring to is the Reichspogromnacht, or better known as Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) that took place on November 9, 1938. It was the beginning of the unbelievable violence that the Nazis would inflict on the Jewish people. That night, hundreds of Jews were murdered and shops with Jewish owners were burned and destroyed. The name refers to all the shattered glass of shop windows.
The best happened exactly 51 years later, on November 9, 1989. A day that many thought would never come – the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Mauerfall marked the end of socialist East Germany and the beginning of a unified Germany, the Wiedervereinigung (Reunification), a process also referred to as Die Wende (The Turning Point).
She then went on to stress the importance of the United States for freedom and democracy in the world and its partnership with Germany. She congratulated Joe Biden for his win, remembering meeting and working with him as Vice-President under Obama. She also emphasised the similarities and common goals between the countries, as well as the United States and Europe.
“Viele Menschen hier wie dort leben diese deutsch-amerikanische Freundschaft. Das ist ein gemeinsamer Schatz.” (“Many people here as there embody this German-American friendship. That is a common treasure.”)
Have you followed the US election in German? Did anything stand out to you in the coverage or word usage? Let me know in the comments below!
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.