CDU Pledges Support for eSports in German Election Manifesto
The eSports industry received another boost from Germany this week, as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) became the latest political party to show support for professional video gaming. The move comes ahead of the federal elections due to take place in September this year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the CDU, presented the party’s election manifesto in Berlin on Monday. Among the pledges to cut taxes and increase public spending was a commitment to “positively support the development of eSports.” It may have only been a minor reference, but it’s a promising sign for the future of the eSports industry in Germany.
A Change in Attitude
The CDU’s commitment to eSports will have surprised most people in the industry, as the party has previously shown a negative attitude towards eSports and video games in general. During their time in government, the CDU have so far refused to recognize eSports as a legitimate sport in any way. This is despite the fact that other countries began accepting eSports players as professional athletes years ago.
It was only last year that the German government were formally asked to give eSports official recognition in a motion filed by the Berlin Pirate Party. The response from the CDU came from Frank Henkel, Senator of the Interior, who claimed that eSports were just a “trend sport”. Relying on the guidelines set by the German Olympic Sports Confederation, he stated that eSports were not eligible for government support.
“Legally, eSports is not a sport and not recognizable as a form of sport.”
There was further evidence of the CDU’s negative attitude towards video gaming after a teenager killed nine people at a shopping center in Munich. Despite having no evidence to support his claim, party member Thomas Maziere suggested that games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were at least partially responsible for the incident.
Going from its previous stance to actually endorsing eSports is quite the turnaround from the CDU. It’s not entirely clear what’s caused the sudden change in attitude, but it could be a result of the growing acceptance of eSports within German politics as a whole.
Following the Crowd?
The CDU’s main opposition in the upcoming elections are the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Interestingly, the SPD have also pledged to support eSports. The following is an extract from their election manifesto, which was released back in May.
“We recognize the growing importance of the eSports landscape in Germany. We will examine if and how the conditions for eSports can be improved.”
It’s not unreasonable to assume that the CDU were influenced by this when preparing their own manifesto. Although eSports is unlikely to play a MAJOR role in the elections, it’s worth noting that Germany is home to some important companies within the industry. Some notable events are held there too, including the biggest CSGO tournament in the world.
Whether these political parties have any real desire to actively support eSports remains to be seen. However, the simple fact that they’re even MENTIONING eSports as part of their election campaigns is a positive development for sure.
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