Letter from the President


I always have mixed emotions in writing a Newsletter in September. On the one hand, it's a little sad to have to envision the end of Summer, no longer so many weeks away.

On the other hand, the approaching Fall season can also be exciting. Everyone is finally getting back to work. And the work is interspersed with carnivals and Fests, originally designed to celebrate a great harvest season.

Now in modern times, very few of us are actually witness to the harvest season. But lots of us can enjoy the various seasonal Fests. AGBC Munich provided the biggest and best for our members collectively in that they reserved almost 200 places for us at the biggest fest in the world, the famous Munich Oktoberfest on 24 September. It is my understanding they had a rip-roaring time, with many from Frankfurt joining in.

Another minor Fest, with major work mixed in, is the semi-annual meeting of the AAGBC Executive Board in Heidelberg. This will take place on Saturday, 18 November, from 11:00 to approximately 16:30. We're meeting at the Leonardo Hotel, Heidelberg City Center, Bergheimer Strasse 63, telephone 06221-5080.

Any member from any chapter is welcome to attend one of our meetings. However, we require that you register first with our national office if you wish to attend. That can be done at: national@agbc.de. An Email confirmation from our National office will then be your ticket to join us. Conversely, you can contact your individual chapter President to join him/her in attendance.

I alluded to "minor fest" a few sentences ago. The reason for this is that on Friday evening, 17 November, at 1900, we'll be meeting at one of Heidelberg's many rustic restaurants for a festive dinner, PalmbrauGasse in the old town next to the Holy Ghost Church. They feature what might be described as the best beef filet in Heidelberg. Attendance for this requires you to register as well. It is a popular restaurant and we need to be able to secure enough reserved places.

Back to Munich: if you read this in time, the September meeting of AGBC will take place on 27 September at the Marriott Hotel, with a great presentation from the United Nations World Food Program, entitled Innovations for Zero Hunger.

The meeting on 25 October will feature a timely address on "Challenges in Today's Transatlantic Business World." And on 29 November, they will feature the AGBC Exchange II, with a dialogue on artificial intelligence and aspects devoted to economic inequality.

In Frankfurt, we have a changing of the guard. David Knower, who has been President of our Frankfurt chapter for the last 17 years, has decided to step down. As a colleague and friend for so many years, I speak for the entire AGBC when I thank David for his contributions throughout this time. Thankfully, he has assured us of his commitment to continue to support the AGBC and the Frankfurt Chapter in particular in the future.

Most importantly in early October, the Frankfurt Chapter kicks off their 10th anniversary year of their Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow program, a business plan competition for young people. The chapter has secured the support of local business leaders to function as mentors for this program, and the young people will meet once a month for guidance in crafting their individual plans. Final showdown will be late spring with the awarding of valuable scholarships to the winners.

But the Frankfurt Chapter has always had numerous activities for its members and friends, combining luncheons, evening presentations and networking nights, with music, in an attractive new location in Bad Homburg.

Although Munich and Frankfurt have been featured here, most of our many chapters will have exciting events scheduled over the coming months. You can always contact our national office for those "happening" events in your town. Or you can always contact our national office for a contact to the chapter nearest you.

Finally, thanks to a contribution from AGBC Munich, we have a "Federal Elections Summary," published by the German Foreign Ministry. The excitement of the recent campaign and the election itself is now history. But to better understand this process, I highly recommend reading the addendum which follows.

Federal Elections summary by Editor Nicole Glass: "Germans have taken to the polls to submit two decisive votes: one for a candidate in their district (direct mandate) and one for their political party of choice. These votes will decide how the 598 base seats in the Bundestag (parliament) will be divided among members of Germany's many political parties.

If the number of seats obtained through the second vote is higher than the number of direct mandates, the remaining seats are assigned to those candidates who have been ranked highest on their party's list. If the number of seats obtained by a party's direct candidate is higher than its share according to the second vote, so-called "overhang seats" are granted. After the 2013 election, for example, 33 overhang seats were granted, bringing the total number of seats in the parliament to 631.

The German electoral system differs immensely from the US system, and for those unfamiliar with it, it is not easy to understand. Germans do not directly elect their leader; instead, their votes influence the number of seats that a political party has in the Bundestag. The Federal Chancellor is elected by a relative majority of votes of Bundestag members, which means in practice that the party with the absolute majority determines who is elected head of government.

However, Germany has multiple political parties and a single party almost never receives an absolute majority. This is why two or sometimes three German political parties form a coalition to reach a majority. They negotiate a coalition agreement that defines their common political objectives. Finding this compromise can take several months.

In the 2013 federal election, for example, the CDU and its sister party, the CSU, received 41.5 percent of the votes. Their usual coalition partner - the FDP - received less than 5 percent of the vote, deeming it ineligible for seats in the Bundestag. The CDU / CSU therefore had to find another coalition partner. After long talks, the CDU / CSU formed a grand coalition with the SPD, even though they have some ideological differences. By forming coalitions, parties with different ideologies must learn to work together.”

Here's wishing you a Happy Herbst, with a bountiful harvest of your ambitions, great health and lots of fun through the coming weeks.

Barry E. Swanson, CFP

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Contact Information

  • Association of
  • American-German
  • Business Clubs e.V.
  • Mainzer Landstraße 176
  • 60327 Frankfurt
  • Administrative Office:
  • Am Beckmannplatz 4
  • 53340 Meckenheim
  • Phone: 02225 - 70 444 15
  • Fax:   02225 - 70 34 999
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