By Stephen Flurry and Richard Palmer
WE TALKED ABOUT THIS “Euroskeptic Party Alternative für Deutschland Strikes Fear in Rest” read a headline in the Times back in September 2013. What was the fear generating story after story in news media around the world? It was the possibility that the new Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) might win a shocking 5 percent of the vote in German elections. In the “Super Sunday” elections held in Germany this weekend, the AfD won 24 percent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt, coming in second. The Financial Times reported that this represents “the best regional result of any German populist right-wing party since 1945.” This election was the first time German voters had the chance to voice their opinion on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pro-immigrant policies, and many rejected them.
The big question to emerge from this election is that of Ms. Merkel’s political survival. “Sunday’s verdict was a clear warning from the electorate that Germans have lost patience with the chancellor’s deliberate approach to the crisis,” wrote Politico. “For the first time, her own party critics can point to hard election results to argue that her policies are having a detrimental effect on them,” Politico continued. “With Merkel’s party already divided on the issue [of immigration], it’s only a matter of time before challengers emerge.” “Powerful figures within the party may start to look for an alternative leader ahead of next year’s national elections,” wrote the Telegraph.
In reality, lasting until 2017 and stepping down before the election is probably a best-case scenario for Ms. Merkel. That election is still a long way off, especially when you look at the headlines that continue to roll out every day on the migrant crisis. In January and February, over 123,000 migrants landed in Greece, compared with only 4,600 in the same period last year. That’s an increase of nearly 2,600 percent! What will immigration be like this summer, as the weather warms up and more migrants take the chance of making that run? Furthermore, Ms. Merkel is not changing course. “German voters on Sunday appeared to send a message to Chancellor Angela Merkel: Close the door on migrants,” wrote the Washington Post. Germany’s Handelsblatt took the same message. “The Wake-up Call” was the headline on its front page this morning. “Simply continuing on the same path is not an option,” it wrote. Yet in a news conference on Monday, Angela Merkel gave no sign she would reconsider this issue. But the political shift demonstrated in Germany over the weekend goes beyond simply one individual. “Berlin is facing a multitude of interlocking crises that are contributing to the fragmentation of Europe,” wrote Lili Bayer for Geopolitical Futures on Friday. “Despite its position as the largest economy in Europe and the leading political power on the Continent, Germany is finding itself unable to effectively address Europe’s crises, and is struggling to maintain its influence in some regions,” she wrote. “At the same time, Germany’s economic vulnerabilities are coming to the fore. We can expect many more challenging weeks for Berlin in the months ahead.” Europe has a slew of unresolved crises, and they threaten to hit Germany the hardest. Each one will only add to the political instability. Look at where Germany’s political system is already, as revealed by this weekend’s elections. Yet the crises are only just starting to bite. “We are seeing a normalization of right-wing populist movements in Germany just like elsewhere in Europe, even if here, it takes on a special form because we can’t ignore Germany’s past,” said contemporary history professor at Mainz University Andreas Rödder, according to Agence France-Presse. Similarly, German political analyst Wolfgang Merkel told Tagesspiegel, “Until now, right-wing populist or extreme-right parties are considered taboo, considered like aliens in the political sphere.” “This is a tectonic shift in the political landscape in Germany,”
said Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer. Spiegel sees the breaking of this taboo as part of the rise of a whole new political system. “Stability used to define Germany’s political system,” it wrote. “But the refugee crisis has fundamentally changed the country’s party landscape. The rise of the fringe has eroded the traditional centers of power.” Here’s how the article began: “Seven or eight months ago, Germany was a different country than it is today. … It was quiet and comfortable. But then the refugees began streaming into Europe …. Since then, disgusting eruptions of xenophobia have come in quick succession, a right-wing populist party is on its way to holding seats in several state parliaments …. Does anyone know what is happening? What is wrong with this country?” Ms. Merkel’s career is at stake over the coming months. But much more than that is on the line. How will these crises change Germany? What will the post-Merkel nation look like—a nation where a borderline xenophobic party can win a quarter of the vote in a major election? Spiegel is not the only one sounding the alarm. “It was a night in which you could see, in a few hours, how much the country changed—and one could feel how much it is still changing,” wrote Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The old ways, which determined the political landscape of the Federal Republic for decades, no longer apply. What was once certain is now uncertain. What was once considered impossible now seems likely.” (Trumpet translation). The Local, an English-language news website that focuses on Germany, published an article titled “Why German Politics as We Know It Is Crumbling.” Talking about the Green Party’s victory in Baden-Württemberg, it reported, “This was the first time in post- 1945 Germany that a party outside the big two took the largest amount of votes at a state election.” When Germany’s top news magazines warn of the rise of a new era in Germany and the end of the political system that has brought Germany one of its longest periods of relative piece in history, we should all take note. The Trumpet has long warned of a radical political transformation coming to Germany and all of Europe. This transformation is already making headlines in Germany—although the writers cannot see where it is leading. To see what the Bible says about this new political system coming to Europe, read the opening chapter to our free booklet He Was Right, “Is a World Dictator About to Appear?” Follow Stephen Flurry and Richard Palmer