German parties present miniature political utopia in Hamburg
As Germany's election race draws to a close, Hamburg’s Miniature Wonderland has opened an exhibition which makes it possible for voters to experience the vision of a perfect society as imagined by the country's six biggest parties.
Each party was given one square metre of space to create their own scale models of utopia. The end products, created by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), the Greens and the socialist party The Left, are currently on display in a model village.
“The basic idea was to put citizens back in touch with their parties,” Miniature Wonderland's Stefan Heinrichs told The Local. “There is so much information out there about each party’s agenda that it is no longer possible to understand their basic policies.”
Miniature Wonderland therefore decided to offer the country's politicians a chance to create a clear cut vision of what type of Germany they want. They appealed to each party to send them a draft of their utopian vision. To their surprise, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with all six agreeing to participate.
“The parties worked very closely with our teams in order to produce their models,” Heinrichs explained. “We would send them drafts of the work in progress and they would get back to us about changes they wanted to make. We were also in touch through email at least once or twice per week. Later on, they came in person to view and make adjustments to the models.”
Now, 5,000 hours of work and €100,000 later, the models are finally on display.
“We had initially expected the visions to be pretty similar, but we realised fairly early on into the process how different they would actually be,” Heinrichs said. The differences are both fascinating and striking.
The SPD's model is perhaps the most uncontroversial and nostalgic representation of a German utopia, showing a traditional landscape with red brick universities and kindergartens, clear streams and a garage staffed by female mechanics. The most abstract model is that of Angela Merkel’s CDU. A relatively unexciting version of the German flag, it simply brings together an equal number of black, red and yellow figures, bearing banners with some of the party’s official slogans.
The conservatives' Bavarian sister party, on the other hand, presented one of the most imaginative visions. Transforming Berlin's famous Unter den Linden boulevard into a giant Oktoberfest, the CSU vividly illustrates its promise of "Bringing more Bavaria to Berlin." The model also shows men with laptops and Lederhosen, the traditional Bavarian trousers.
The Green’s version is similarly idealistic, including not only sunflowers, solar and wind energy, but also a bar in which punks and police hang out together – an attempt to illustrate true social harmony.
Elsewhere, the FDP’s utopia is arguably the most in touch with its political agenda. Wanting to show a society with great freedom and tolerance, it presents topless sunbathers and a homosexual marriage. The model also includes references to pledged tax cuts, as well as a collection of discarded road signs – a measure it has said it would take to reduce congestion.
Finally, the socialists from The Left party – possibly feeling wary from the failed workers' utopia of East Germany – refused to present harmonious perfect world in their miniature world. Instead they opted to show a land in which the streets are filled with people protesting against inequality and discrimination. According to the leftists, this is a more realistic vision of the policies the party would actually pursue if it came to power.
The exhibition offers both adult and younger viewers the chance to vote for their favourite model. Only a few days in, the models seem to appeal in equal measure to the majority of the older voters. When it comes to the younger vote, however, there is a clear preference for the more recreational Green and CSU visions.
The free exhibition will be open up until the German elections on September 27.