The Rise of ‘Alternative for Germany’

With the Federal German Parliamentary elections coming to a close something quite remarkable has just happened in post-WWII Germany. For the first time since 1949 when the Bundestag was created after the defeat of the Nazi regime, and free and fair elections were held, the Christian Democrats and their sister party the Christian Social Union suffered their worst result while a nationalist grouping known as the Alternative for Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) has made a stunning electoral and political break through becoming the third largest party and significantly this 2017 German Parliament will contain for the very first time since the days of the 1930s overt German nationalists.

Mrs. Merkel has just led her governing party of the CDU/CSU to its worst electoral result ever. How did this happen? It really all has to do with Mrs. Merkel's decision to open German doors and allow in almost 1 million undocumented refugees, economic migrants and others in the summer of 2015. What some (even myself) saw as a great humanitarian and noble endeavour I am afraid was actually clearly in retrospect a huge mistake and very irresponsible. The key issue is not regarding whether or not to offer refuge and sanctuary to fleeing refugees from war torn countries.

There is no dispute about that. Rather it is about proper legal process and fundamentally security as well as sheer mathematics. They should never have been taken in without being properly vetted, documented and screened. And a near million was far too much all in one go. The German people are an extremely liberal, welcoming, tolerant, cultured, and socially enlightened people but you can only push them so far before their good nature is seen to themselves to be taken advantage of. It is a similar situation in the UK after the former communist Warsaw Pact members where admitted to the EU in 2004. The British Prime Minister back then Tony Blair did not put in place temporary controls unlike other Western EU members and there has just been one all mighty free for all with the UK immigration system in a complete mess and UK borders flung wide open not just to EU members but also to the Middle East and Africa without the proper checks, controls and regulations in place. This 2017 Federal German Parliamentary election has completely upended the traditional post-1945 order in German domestic politics. For the first time since before 1945 six parties will be in the German National Parliament and again for the first time since 1949 the CDU/CSU suffered its worst election result. 

Mrs. Merkel still did win and pulled off a fourth victory. Seen in the context of a long serving Leader and Governing Party this is still a strong achievement after 12 years in power and in the face of a backlash against the naive policy of Open Doors. Yet as many analysts and commentators are stating, it is a pyrrhic victory, very much a hollow one and could lead to significant constitutional gridlock given that the SPD will not form a Grand Coalition with Merkel's CDU/CSU members and she may well have to stitch together some dubious, incoherent "Jamaica" coalition. 

If Mrs. Merkel is to survive for the rest of her term and the rise of the AfD checked, she will have to listen very closely to the 14% who voted for AfD. One has a feeling that the Merkel era is starting to draw to a close. It may be wise before the 2022 Federal German Parliamentary election for the Christian Democrats to have a new candidate for Chancellor and Leader of the CDU in place. If the SPD are not careful having suffered one of their worst Federal Parliamentary election results ever, AfD could replace them as the main opposition party in German national politics. This significant and dramatic change in German politics is taking place against the backdrop of the greatest upheavals and changes in Europe since the end of the Second World War and amid heightened and rising global tensions.

With negotiations under way for the Exit from the UK from the EU and the EU struggling with a migrant crisis of epic proportions the last thing that Europe and the EU needed was a surge in right-wing German nationalism. Europe is changing. The world is changing and this German election result merely confirms that a New World Order is taking shape quite different from the post-1945 or post-1992 frameworks. The rhetoric and discourse of AfD is unprecedented in post-WWII Germany talking about fighting an "invasion of foreigners" and going on the "hunt" after Angela Merkel. AfD have pledged to begin debates on immigration and the Open Door 2015 policy as well as a host of issues relating to German national identity and culture. "We want a different policy," co-leader Alexander Gauland said following the historic AfD surge. It will be very interesting to observe how this pans out for Mrs. Merkel, the EU and the world.