By Jason Caci
Despite the fact that Angela Merkel won her fourth consecutive term as Chancellor of Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the right wing populist party in Germany, is on pace to secure 88 seats in the Bundestag, according to the Guardian. In hindsight, it might not seem like a lot of seats when one sees that the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) will secure 137 seats and the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) will secure 237 seats. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is a huge win for right wing populism in Germany.
This marks the first time that a right wing nationalist party will have a seat in the Bundestag since the immediate aftermath of World War II. Clearly, the German people are sick of Angela Merkel’s policies of letting refugees into the country. Merkel even reaffirmed a few times that she did not regret taking in so many refugees. As a result, the German people showed their stance at the polls when they voted for more right wing nationalist candidates than usual.
Germany’s population consists of mostly older folks, specifically those over the age of sixty years old. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry of Bloomberg indicated that “younger people disproportionately support either less establishmentarian parties or don’t vote, showing alienation from the political establishment that has steered Germany since the end of World War II.” This is huge because the establishment parties have not preached the importance of family in a culture, and in the long haul, Germany will have a shortage of workers if the population continues to have a majority of folks older than sixty years old. This is a reason why in the next decade or two India is projected to overtake Germany in the ranking of the world’s highest GDP. That is where the difference in population size comes from. However, another reason is the fact that, instead of refugees, the young people of Germany want to be the ones that fill the void in the shortage of jobs. Based on the discontent shown from the younger voters, maybe the establishment parties will make the issue of families as a bigger focus of discussion.
Typically, European countries such as Germany have a larger margin of error when it comes to having left wing policies implemented because immigration is normally not an issue. In the United States of America, immigration has been a focus for several years. This is due to the loophole-ridden immigration policies that the United States imposes, and selective enforcement on the part of the executive branch doesn’t help solve the problem. However, now that refugees in large numbers have arrived in Germany, people steer more to the right because they feel as if their culture is being threatened by the refugees.
The problem with Germany’s government is that it has become too stable. As a result, people start to view establishment politics as the norm. Then, every event, detail, and person becomes politically correct. There is no counter-cultural movement to face off against the politicians. Eventually, a stable government will reach its tipping point with the opinions of people because the public will grow tired of the status quo. I believe this most recent election was the beginning of the turnaround.
This pales in comparison to the United States in regards to the general view of politicians over the past decade. During President Obama’s first few years in office, he had a pretty large favorability rating. According to the Gallup poll, in the last few days of his presidency, his numbers were high. His approval rating stood at 59% due to the fact that most Americans were not satisfied with Trump on a personal level as they were with Obama. In the end, people should take polls with a grain of salt (look at the 2016 presidential election). Basically, people were tired of identity politics and felt that the social justice messages were being shoved down their throat. They felt as if they had lost their identity as a result of the message of diversity being preached constantly.
Overall, this is a wakeup call not only for Germany, but for the rest of Europe. Europe usually goes as far as Germany goes since Germany has the highest economic input out of all the countries in Europe, as well as the de facto leader of the European Union. The citizens of Germany are making sure that the country that has had their culture intact for hundreds of years still has its boat rowing.
GIF from here