Though there is unlikely to be any major change in German policy, for the moment, the AfD’s surge, especially in the former East Germany, suggests a massive psychological shift amongst average Germans, in a country haunted by guilt from the Second World War.
By Taylor Rose l October 2, 2017
The results of Germany’s elections are truly historic. After almost two years of battling between establishment “conservatives” and populist nationalists across Europe and the U.S., the amazing breakthrough of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) into parliament, going from zero to 94 seats, represents a startling political achievement and one of the greatest psychological shocks to the cosmopolitan elite that rule the West.
Though scoring a fourth term is not to be taken likely, Chancellor Merkel’s victory is overshadowed by not only a massive surge in right-wing sentiment throughout Germany, but also accompanied by a monumental political shift to the right-wing in Merkel’s home region, the former Communist East Germany where the AfD dominated the polls.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Brandenburger councilor Steffen Königer of the AfD, spoke to SFPPR News & Analysis, attributed the AfD surge in part to German political elites being out of touch with the concerns of the common German. “They thought climate change was one of the greatest concerns…in fact, the Germans had other things to worry about and these issues were only addressed by one party: The AfD,” which captured over 20% of the vote in Brandenburg, the second highest in the country.
At the top of AfD’s agenda, according to party leader Alexander Gauland, is to “fight the invasion of foreigners.” Though Königer acknowledges the AfD is the “third-strongest party,” he points out, “we won’t be able to take over the government.” However, with the large AfD presence, it will “give our people a voice in parliament again….” where “the parliament will finally become a place of real debate again. In past years, we only had broad consent everywhere.”
With the left-wing Social Democrats refusing to enter into a “grand coalition” with Merkel, she is forced to form a three party alliance with the pro-business FDP and far-left Greens in order to form a governing coalition, which is likely to cause considerable confusion in a coalition trying to accommodate both rural Catholic and far-left urban interests. Given the prospect of massive internal chaos, Merkel may be a “lame duck” chancellor, struggling to hold the European Union, German society, and a shaken political system together in a European world moving quickly back to the right.
It is amidst this chaos where the AfD hopes to present itself as the true opposition to the establishment and prove to German voters that all the mainstream parties are functionally the same. This may be already proven true, as European and German elites continue on their path to encouraging more multiculturalism and ever more integration of European nation-states.
Though there is unlikely to be any major change in German policy, for the moment, the AfD’s surge, especially in the former DDR, suggests a massive psychological shift amongst average Germans, in a country haunted by guilt from the Second World War. Königer says that it is now “four generations after the war ended, there is nothing left to overcome. Many people are tired of backward-looking.”
Robin Classen, a millennial AfD member from Mainz, who spoke to SFPPR News & Analysis earlier this year, explains that the right-wing nationalist trend in East Germany represents a growing geographical schism inside the Bundesrepublik. “Eastern Germans are very suspicious of the government in general, because of the Soviet oppression. One thing is for sure, that they do not want to live in a multicultural society as West Germans do.” The electoral results signify an embrace of German national identity and a growing rejection of globalization, especially the anti-immigrant sentiment that accompanies open borders forced on the German people by Chancellor Merkel’s policies.
Taylor Rose is a graduate of Liberty University with a B.A. in International Relations from the Helms School of Government. Fluent in English and German he has worked and studied throughout Europe specializing in American and European politics. He is a prolific writer and author of the book Return of the Right an analysis on the revival of Conservatism in the United States and Europe. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the conservative on-line journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.