This article by Tünde Darkó was published in Hungarian on Corvinák, the knowledge base of Mathias Corvinus Collegium.
‘The anthem of diversity is now regularly played before major events, such as the opening of the Bundesliga or the annual carnival. It has long been considered an unofficial national anthem because it is for everyone, unlike Deutschlandlied, which is not inclusive and plays on cultural exclusivity.’
Constantin Schreiber’s novel Die Kandidatin (The Candidate) is a work of fiction about a future Germany 30 years from today. It depicts the extremely heated public mood in the country in the lead-up to an election from a political and social perspective. The novel was published before the 21st Bundestag elections on 5 May 2021 by the Hamburg publisher Hoffmann und Campe. Following its publication, it was included in the Spiegel Bestseller List in June 2021. Since its publication, the novel has hardly lost any of its relevance.
Its continuing validity is confirmed by a statement made by Manfred Weber, President of the European People’s Party (EPP), in an interview with Welt am Sonntag in early December 2022. In the interview, he stressed that reception centres in Germany are overcrowded and local authorities responsible for housing people seeking asylum are working under heavy pressure.
He added that we should expect a significant number of Ukrainian refugees to arrive in the European Union again in the winter. Weber stressed that he fears that dramatic developments will start in the winter. More and more reception centres may have to be set up in the gyms of local schools and sports clubs, as was the case during the European migration crisis that reached its most severe point in 2015. Manfred Weber stressed that the coalition government of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens, and Liberals (FDP) is not prepared for this situation and is ‘simply ignoring the challenges’.
Novelist Constantin Schreiber refers to the present situation of 2021, current social problems, identity-based political demands and the tensions caused by immigration.
There is little mention in the novel of one of the greatest challenges of our time, climate change, which has attracted much attention in the election campaign. This is of particular interest, as the circumstances presented in the book are presented from the perspective of a Muslim female candidate for Chancellor, who is a candidate for the future Green Party, the ‘Ökologische Partei’. Throughout the chapters, you can learn about Sabbah Hussein’s working days, from demonstrations in Berlin to running an election campaign, read about her trip to China, find out how a church service organised and held jointly by different churches is conducted, complete with the singing of the hymn of diversity. You will also gain insight into the specific rules provided by the prevailing legal system. These rules are there to establish the principle of diversity, and to implement it in public life and in the world of work. We are shown an attempted assassination on the candidate, her subsequent near-death experience, and her recovery. You can also read the telling of the absurd forensic trial following the assassination attempt, where the accused confesses everything without thinking, hoping to bring Germany closer to rejecting the Muslim candidate for chancellor, and thus bring down her popularity.
The protagonist, Sabbah Hussein, is an ambitious, intelligent Muslim woman who is a rising political star, but it soon becomes clear that she is not at all familiar with the inner workings of politics and diplomacy. She tries to cover up her shortcomings by pretending to know and understand what she is doing, and by feigning deliberateness. She throws herself with deep conviction into the realisation of her political programme: the creation of a society based on the values of diversity. She is aided in this by the determinants of her origin, social position and gender. She is the daughter of Syrian parents born in Lebanon, and a pretty, attractive, young woman, which gives her a positional advantage with the immigrant voting base, who make up the majority of the electorate, and with all those who feel discriminated against because of their social positions.
During her visit to China, she meets a witch doctor who warns her to be careful and tells her that there is a person near her who embodies the symbol of the snake, known from Christian imagery. This person is not honest with her and could be a danger to her. We later learn that behind the candidate for Chancellor’s political agenda is an imam who is training and guiding her to implement an anti-Christian, Islamist agenda. The prophecy of the Chinese woman is proven to be correct in the story: not only radical far-right groups, but also Sabbah’s immediate associates have been working to thwart her plans all along.
The author’s depiction is almost frightening, describing a Germany where no one feels safe.
Equality before the law, equality before God, freedom of speech and freedom of opinion are in vain: the measures planned and taken will ultimately lead to even greater antagonism and hatred in society than before.
I believe that the author has illustrated the problem of social diversity in 2021 in such an extreme way because it has not been as thoroughly discussed in everyday political discourse and campaign communication as, for example, the issue of climate change, yet it is at least as important in shaping people’s attitudes towards politics.
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