21 Sep/17

German Elections and Language Accuracy

German Elections and Language Accuracy
German Elections and Language Accuracy – EVS Translations

After hotly contested elections in the UK, France, and the Netherlands, the calendar is primed for the biggest electoral event of the fall: Germany’s parliamentary elections, to be held this Sunday, 24 September.

According to current polls, which has the Christian Democratic Union / Christian Social Union at 36% support and at least 12% ahead of the Social Democratic Party, it seems as if Germans are prepared to hand Angela Merkel a fourth term as Chancellor, but, after some of the colossal opinion polling errors over the past 18 months and with nearly half of German voters said to be undecided, nothing can be taken for granted.

Aside from who is contesting the election itself as well as the specific issues that are motivating voters, to being able to attract financial support from donors, the key lies in proper and effective communication. Beyond just articulating specific talking points, in Germany, home to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide, where approximately 12% of the population – 10 million people – are foreign-born nationals, this also means being able to communicate your ideas in a number of different languages. While this may occur on a localised level dictated by demographics, a quick look at the websites of the 6 major political parties in this upcoming election (CDU/CSU, SPD, The Left, Greens, the Free Democratic Party, and the Alternative for Germany) reveals a shocking inadequacy: only The Left currently offers their website in a foreign language; moreover, this foreign language offering is limited to English only, which, though sensible, may not be useful to the Turks or Poles who make up a combined 22.6% of foreign nationals. The CDU’s website offers an international section, listing certain limited key information in English, with only its Party Manifesto available in 7 different languages. FDP offers a brief election manifesto available in English, and the Political Programme of the Alternative for Germany is also available in only English.

With an informative, integrated website being the cheapest and most easily accessible media for any political party or movement, it seems as if German political parties are doing themselves a disservice and missing out on an opportunity considering the far-stretching right of Germans residing abroad to vote in the current elections if they have permanently resided in Germany, after reaching the age of 14, for an uninterrupted period of three months within the past 25 years, or if they are familiar with the German political situation and are affected by it, rounding up the number to over 3 million potential voters, some with limited fluency in German language.

According to the last statement, though German political parties may seem to be somewhat narrow when it comes to national politics; however, when it comes to the international stage, German parties are well connected to international political organisations. For example, all of the 6 main parties belong to a respective European Parliament group, while the parties who represent broader socio-political philosophies, such as the 2 major parties, the Greens, and the centrist Free Democratic Party, are also affiliated with international alliances. As all of these international organisations provide a venue for establishing contacts, exchanging policy views and ideas, and cooperating effectively to present a united voice, again, communication is key.

And at times when the dominance of the English language as the ‘working language’ of the EU is uncertain, and the political pressure to promote the use of German both on the international policy scene and at home, where a debate is heating up on the decline of the national language, coming along with the threads posed by the current immigration and globalisation trends, German parties have to indeed mind the accuracy of their language.

And when it comes to the translations of government and election documents, a maximum language accuracy could only be ensured by certified professional translators and reviewers. EVS Translations has been providing high quality and reliable professional election translation services – including ballot translations and voter registration documents, candidate statements and video campaigns, desktop publishing solutions for election materials, website localisation and optimisation services – across Europe and the USA for over two centuries.