Germany: The Progressives’ Post-Election Meltdown

The German voters certainly spoke in last month’s general election, but the establishment in Berlin is having a difficult time coming to terms with what they said.

The right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), winning 12.6 percent of the vote, became the third-largest party in the German parliament by securing 94 of the 700-odd Bundestag seats. In states that used to be East Germany, the AfD got 20.5% of the vote, second after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

The election result was not only a big breakthrough for the AfD — created just four years ago — but also a historic debacle for the two major parties that have dominated the country’s post-war political landscape for almost seven decades.

Chancellor Merkel’s conservative CDU, with 33% of the vote, suffered its worst election result since 1949, and so did the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the world’s oldest Socialist party, with 20.5% of the vote.

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Islamic Sunset on Germany

Germany’s federal elections were supposed to lead to the triumph of Angela Merkel. Their results were rather different from what was anticipated. Merkel’s “victory” looks like a disaster: the Christian Democratic Alliance (CDU-CSU) won 33% of the vote — 9% less than four years ago, its worst result since 1949. The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which governed the country with Merkel during the last four years, lost more than 5%, and fell from 25.7 % to 20% of the vote — the worst result in its history. Alternative for Germany (AfD), a conservative nationalist party born in 2013, obtained 12.6%, and will enter in the Bundestag for the first time. Die Linke, the Marxist left, received 9%. As neither the SPD nor Die Linke will participate in the next government, and as AfD is radically opposed to the policies pursued by Merkel, she has only two possible partners: the libertarian Free Democratic Party and The Greens: both of whose positions on most subjects seem incompatible.

Angela Merkel will remain Chancellor, but by default, and mostly because there was no other real choice: six months ago, two-thirds of the German population wanted her to be replaced. Only 8% wanted her to remain in her post. Martin Schultz, former President of the European Parliament, who was the SPD candidate, did not offer anything different and led a lackluster campaign.

If Merkel succeeds in forming a coalition, it will be a precarious and unstable assemblage that will keep Germany on the verge of paralysis and make the country the sick man of 21st century Europe.

Germany actually already is a sick country, and Angela Merkel is part of the sickness.

In 1945, Germany was in ruins. It rebuilt itself and gradually became Europe’s leading economic power. While regaining strength, it did not assert itself politically and remained discreet, humble, repentant, silently shameful. Because of its role in the war, it was reluctant to recreate an army when NATO powers asked it to rebuild one; instead, it adopted a general position of appeasement that led to “Ostpolitik“, a policy of rapprochement with the communist East and the Soviet Union.

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German Election: Merkel’s Pyrrhic Victory

Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a fourth term in office, but the real winner of the German election on September 24 was the Alternative for Germany, an upstart party that harnessed widespread anger over Merkel’s decision to allow into the country more than a million mostly Muslim migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Preliminary election results show that Merkel’s center-right CDU/CSU alliance won around 33% of the vote, its worst electoral result in nearly 70 years. Merkel’s main challenger, Martin Schulz and his center-left SPD, won 20.5%, the party’s worst-ever showing.

The nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) won around 13% to become the country’s third-largest party, followed by the classical liberal Free Democrats (FDP) with 10.7%, the far-left Linke party with 9.2% and the environmentalist Greens with 8.9%.

“With only 33%, Merkel has not only achieved the worst result of all the campaigns she has led, but also the second-worst in the party’s history,” wrote Die Zeit.

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Is Germany Heading to a “September Surprise”?

Stay at home instead of vote for the right-wing party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), is the last-minute advice Chancellor Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, is giving to voters ahead of Sunday’s election in Germany.

“Better not vote than to vote for the AfD,” Merkel’s powerful right-hand man told the German newspaper Bild on Tuesday. “The AfD are dividing our country. They are exploiting people’s fears. Therefore, I believe that a vote for the AfD cannot be justified.

“These are just a few rabble-rousers who profit from all the reporting on them,” he continued, urging the media to stop covering the AfD.

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A Far-Right Party Just Became the Third-Largest Force in the German Bundestag. Here’s What It Means.

Not since the 1950s has a right-wing nationalist party sat in the German Bundestag. The utter devastation wreaked by World War II, as well as stringent laws against Holocaust denial and expressions of support for the defeated Nazi regime, placed a taboo on extreme right-wing politics in Germany. Six decades of political immunity to the far right came to an end yesterday, when the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) won over 13 percent in Germany’s federal election, making it the third largest party in the Bundestag. German politics just went from being reassuringly boring to ominously contentious.

Consider: For the past four years, Germany was governed by the country’s two largest parties, Angela Merkel’s center right Christian Democrats and the center left Social Democrats, in a “grand coalition.” On Sunday, both parties suffered their worst performances since the creation of the Federal Republic in 1949 (as did the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union). The decline of the two “people’s parties” (Volksparteien) has coincided with a movement towards the extremes, with voters flocking to the AfD and post-communist Left Party.

What was once a stable and predictable political dispensation has now been overturned. The Social Democrats, rightly indignant that four years as Merkel’s second fiddle weakened their appeal, have ruled out another grand coalition and will enter opposition. This leaves Merkel with only one possible option to form a government: A coalition composed of her CDU/CSU alliance, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens, known as “Jamaica” due to the parties’ colors (black, yellow, and, obviously, green). This will not be an easy partnership to assemble, what with the FDP and Greens sharing serious doctrinal and personal differences (both appeal to the same white collar, upper middle class, bourgeois constituency and share the sort of resentment that is natural between smaller parties). On top of this, the CSU will want to move further right in an effort to win back voters it lost to the AfD, a development that cannot portend well for a coalition with the Greens.

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Frauke Petry, the New Face of Germany’s Anti-Immigrant Right, Talks to Tablet

Over the last decade, Germany has been the indisputable leader of Europe, with its strong economy, liberal democracy, close partnership with the United States, and in recent years, its dominant role in steering the continent through one catastrophe after another: first the euro crisis and the bailouts of Greece, Spain, Portugal and others, followed by the refugee crisis, which saw the largest wave of migration since the Holocaust.

However, as populist movements on both sides of the Atlantic gain ground, the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) poses a threat to the liberal order in Germany. Founded in 2013 by Euro-skeptic but mostly liberal economists, the AfD went from being a marginal political party that couldn’t even cross the 5 percent threshold to enter national parliament when federal elections were last held in 2013, to what is now the third-most-popular party in Germany. The AfD skyrocketed to its current level of success by serving as the only political party to vigorously condemn Angela Merkel’s policies toward the refugee crisis. That position led the party’s original founder to quit in protest of “Islamic and xenophobic” elements within. Yet it attracted a large following of voters who had until then felt that there was no political home for opposition to accepting over a million mostly Muslim immigrants.

Frauke Petry has been the leader of the AfD since 2015. Under her stewardship, the party now holds seats in 10 of Germany’s 16 state parliaments, up from five a year ago. Federal elections will be held in September, and the latest polls predict that this time the party will have no trouble entering the Bundestag, Germany’s national parliament. If polls are to be trusted, the party will win 12 percent to 15 percent of the vote, which will make it the third largest political party in Germany—and the first overtly nationalist party in the German government since the Third Reich.

The party’s focus on limiting immigrants and preserving German identity has led the AfD to become somewhat of a pariah in German society. And while its focus is predominantly on curtailing the influence of Islam in Germany, some party members have been linked to anti-Semitic groups and individuals, leading some politicians and journalists to label the AfD and its leaders as neo-Nazis. Germany’s larger parties have so far opposed the prospect of aligning themselves with the AfD in a coalition government. Still, the prominence of a nationalist movement in modern Germany is worrisome to many—especially to Jews.

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