German tangle — on SPD’s coalition talks
The Social Democrats’ decision to enter coalition talks will bring relief across Europe
The decision of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) to start talks for another coalition (सहमिलन) with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) will calm nerves across Europe. Since September’s inconclusive (अधूरा) parliamentary election, efforts to form a coalition government for the continent’s largest economy have reached nowhere. The SPD, whose vote share came down by 5 percentage points since 2013, initially decided to sit in the opposition and focus on reviving the party. But after months of talks between the CDU and the Green Party to form a government collapsed, sections within the SPD pushed for another coalition bid, which was finally okayed by 56.4% of the delegates in an extraordinary party conference in Bonn last week. Defending the coalition proposal, SPD leader Martin Schulz said working with Ms. Merkel allowed the party to resist right-wing populism (लोकप्रियता) in Europe while championing workers’ rights at home through government policies. He said a preliminary blueprint for talks between the parties had already been agreed upon, which includes SPD demands such as a guaranteed pension level and child benefits. However, Mr. Schulz may find it still difficult this time to sell the benefits of the coalition with the pro-business, liberal (आजाद) CDU, to his party and the voters. The challenge before the SPD and the CDU is to formulate a politically appealing yet pragmatic (तथ्यात्मक) common minimum programme for the new government. It’s not going to be easy given the ideological differences and internal challenges both parties face.
Though the CDU-Christian Social Union combine remained the single largest bloc after the September polls, the parties suffered massive erosion (कटाव) in their combined vote base, a fall of 8.6 percentage points. Some within the CDU have already started questioning the leadership of Ms. Merkel, who has been Chancellor for 12 years. Ms. Merkel’s liberalism has been under attack by the far-right Alternative for Germany, which won a stunning 13% of the vote in the September election. For their part, the Social Democrats are in steep decline. From 40% in 1998, their vote share is now 20%. A coalition government will certainly spare Germany the agony (कष्ट) of going to the polls again so soon. A stable government is the need of the hour both for Germany and Europe, at a time when far-right parties are resurgent (फिर उठ खड़ा होने वाला) elsewhere (in Austria, they are part of the government) and the Brexit talks are in a crucial phase. For the SPD, which is in favour of reforming the European Union, joining the German government could also strengthen reform efforts, mainly championed by French President Emmanuel Macron. But these issues can be addressed only if the SPD-CDU/CSU combine is able to arrest the erosion of individual support bases, overcome the internal challenges and provide a stable leadership.
1. Coalition: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.
Synonyms: alliance, union, partnership, affiliation, bloc, caucus
Antonyms: detachment, desunion, separation, disassociation, parting, severance
2. Inconclusive: Not leading to a firm conclusion or result; not ending doubt or dispute.
Synonyms: indecisive, proving nothing, resolving nothing, leaving matters open
Antonyms: adequate, clear, perfect, sufficient, decisive, certain, sure
3. Populism: A political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.
4. Liberal: not bound by traditional ways or beliefs
Synonyms: broad-minded, nonconventional, nonorthodox, nontraditional, open-minded, progressive, radical, unconventional, unorthodox
Antonyms: conservative, conventional, hidebound, nonprogressive, old-fashioned, orthodox, stodgy, traditional
5. Pragmatic: Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.
Synonyms: empirical, hands-on, real, actual, active, applied, experiential, experimental, non-theoretical, in the field, practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, sensible, down-to-earth, commonsensical, hard-headed, expedient, businesslike, with both feet on the ground, with one’s feet on the ground, rational, reasonable, no-nonsense, unsentimental, unidealistic
Antonyms: blue-sky, idealistic, impractical, unrealistic, utopian, visionary, half-baked, illogical, insane, irrational, unreasonable
6. Erosion: The gradual destruction or diminution of something.
Synonyms: wearing away, abrasion, scraping away, grinding down, crumbling, wear and tear, weathering, dissolving, dissolution
Antonyms: buildup, gain, increase
7. Agony: Extreme physical or mental suffering.
Synonyms: pain, hurt, suffering, torture, torment, anguish, affliction, trauma
Antonyms: heaven, paradise, delight, diversion, entertainment, fun, joy, pleasure, recreation
8. Resurgent: Increasing or reviving after a period of little activity, popularity, or occurrence.
Held by the mob — on protests against Padmaavat
The attack on schoolchildren captures the state’s failure to stand up to vigilantism
The attack on a bus carrying schoolchildren on Wednesday must serve to jolt (झटका) State governments across north India out of their hands-off approach to acts of vandalism (गुंडागिरी) by way of protests against the film Padmaavat. It took admirable (अत्युत्तम) presence of mind on the part of the driver to steer (चलाना) the children out of harm’s way when foot soldiers of the Karni Sena attacked the bus in the Haryana township of Gurugram. But coming at the end of days of violence in at least six States by protestors purporting (दावा करना) to be upholding Rajput honour, this is the image India must confront: a busload of children ducking (पूर्ण रूप से भीगना) for cover as the state looked away. The image collectively frames the abdication (अधिकार त्याग) of State governments in maintaining law and order in the face of violence by the rag-tag Karni Sena. For months, many of them have played an encouraging role in keeping up protests against the film, with the Chief Ministers of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, among others, issuing statements about the need for the film to heed the lines of history. Public viewing of the final version of Padmaavat as cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification has called the protestors’ bluff on their stated objections to its contents. But the mob is clearly led by its own narrative, unmindful of the reality of the film in question or of the historical blurriness (अस्पष्टता) in it. The mob rampaging (उपद्रव) against the film across north India in States ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party has demonstrated its ability to hold public order to ransom, no matter what.
The state has been repeatedly reminded of its duty to protect freedom of expression, most notably in S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram (1989), when the Supreme Court held that the government cannot cite the possibility of violence to prohibit a film’s screening. In fact, this month, after Gujarat and Rajasthan banned the CBFC-cleared Padmaavat, the court stayed the ban and iterated (दोहराना) the state’s responsibility to maintain law and order during its screening. That State governments have chosen to mostly ignore the court order is evident from the decision of the Multiplex Association of India to not screen the film in Gujarat and Rajasthan, for fear of further violence of the sort that hit two Ahmedabad malls. The Karni Sena shot into the news in 2008 when it utilised the release of Jodhaa Akbar to affect caste/communal outrage over the story of Emperor Akbar’s ‘Rajput’ wife. That it would see an opportunity to consolidate its vigilantist credentials with Padmaavat is, in hindsight (दूरदर्श), a given. But it is a sobering (अप्रमत्तता) conclusion that whether or not Padmaavat is remembered for its cinematic merits or shortcomings, it has become a byword for the government’s failure to control the mob.
- Jolt: Push or shake (someone or something) abruptly and roughly.
Synonyms: push, thrust bump, collision, concussion, crash, impingement, jar, impact, jounce, kick, shock, slam, smash, strike, wallop
- Vandalism: Action involving deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property.
Synonyms: harm, injury, destruction, vandalization
Antonyms: conservation, preservation, protection, salvage, saving
- Admirable: Arousing or deserving respect and approval.
Synonyms: commendable, worthy of admiration, worthy of commendation, praiseworthy, laudable, estimable, meritorious, creditable, exemplary, exceptional, notable, honourable, worthy, deserving, respectable, worthwhile
Antonyms: censurable, discreditable, illaudable, reprehensible, disgraceful, dishonorable, disreputable, ignominious, low, mean, scandalous, seamy, shady, shameful, shocking, sordid, unethical, unsavoury
- Purporting: The meaning or sense of something, typically a document or speech.
Synonyms: gist, substance, drift, implication, intention, meaning, significance, signification, sense, essence, import, tenor, thrust, message, spirit
Antonyms: conceal, disclaim, hide, deny
- Ducking: the act or a means of getting or keeping away from something undesirable
Synonyms: avoidance, cop-out, dodging, escape, eluding, elusion, eschewal, eschewing, evasion, out, shaking, shunning
Antonyms: abidance, endurance, submission, toleration
- Abdication: An act of abdicating or renouncing the throne
Synonyms: resignation, retirement
Antonyms: defend, guard, protect, safeguard, secure
- Blurriness: The quality of being unclear or indistinct.
Synonyms: becloud, befog, confuse, cloud, fog, muddy, obfuscate
Antonyms: clarify, clear (up), illuminate
- Rampaging: move through a place in a violent and uncontrollable manner.
Synonyms: rush madly, rush wildly, riot, run riot, go on the rampage, run amok, go berserk, storm, charge, tear
Antonyms: calm, calmness, peace, peacefulness, placidity, quiet, quietude, repose, restfulness, sereneness, serenity, still, stillness, tranquillity (or tranquility), tranquilness
- Iterated: to say or state again
Synonyms: chime, din, repeat, rehearse, reiterate
- Handsight: Understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.
- Sobering: Creating a more serious, sensible, or solemn mood.
Synonyms: clearheaded, straight
Antonyms: blasted [slang], blind, blitzed [slang], blotto [slang], bombed, boozy, canned [slang], cockeyed, crocked, drunk, drunken, fried, gassed, hammered [slang], high, inebriate