Merkel Wins Again, but Germany Is Changing Course
Many media outlets focused on her fourth victory, but the real news is how much support she lost — and why.
Angela Merkel was re-elected to a fourth term as Germany’s chancellor Sunday. For those who keep an eye on Europe, this isn’t surprising news, while others maybe weren’t aware that there was even an election held in in Germany. Many media outlets chose to focus on her fourth victory, but the real news is how much support she lost — and why.
During the last several years of Merkel’s tenure, she gained widespread praise from progressives across the world for her so-called compassion toward Middle Eastern refugees, primarily from war-torn Syria and other areas devastated by the Islamic State. However, her desire to allow one million refugees into Germany is actually deadly denialism, and Germany has seen a resulting substantial increase in cases of rape and general migrant criminal activity, as well as several terrorist attacks.
Following the terrorist attacks at the Berlin Christmas market in 2015, committed under the guidance of Anis Amri, a Muslim immigrant from Tunisia, Merkel had the audacity to state that Germans could fight terrorists with compassion. One may debate the merits of such advice on an individual level, but as national policy it’s wishful thinking, not the way to fight and defeat terrorists. And many Germans know it.
German citizens apparently were not at all too thrilled with the decisions made by their chancellor during her last term, especially regarding her open borders immigration policy. Granted she won re-election, but her numbers were significantly lower than in 2013. That year, she garnered 41.5% of the vote, but this time around she only captured 32.9%. That’s almost a 10 point drop in support and with it comes her next task of trying to assemble a coalition within the German parliament, the Bundestag.
Merkel belongs to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and during her last term she had the full support of the Social Democrat Party (SPD). Not his time around. The SPD not only lost seats but also announced that the party would not be partnering with Merkel to form the new coalition government. Ouch.
This announcement from the SPD leaves Merkel with the task of trying to form an alliance with the far-left Free Democrats and the Green Party. This task will likely not be easy as these parties have different objectives. Without such a coalition, Merkel will be left without a majority and thus she won’t be able to accomplish much.
Of further concern for Merkel is that the election results indicate that the German citizenry is not at all pleased with the direction she is taking Germany. The proof is in the fact that a third party emerged very strong after this election. The supposedly far-right Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) ran on a platform of opposing Merkel’s immigration policy and had its strongest election outcome in 50 years. AfD picked up the third-highest vote share of any party and ended with 90 seats in the Bundestag.
Merkel has reached a new low in her 12-year tenure as chancellor. The German public is clearly not satisfied with her decisions on immigration, and the emergence of AfD as a viable political party demonstrates this. To put this into perspective, astute political analyst Michael Barone notes that Merkel’s party had the “lowest [percentage of the popular vote] since federal elections began in 1949.” So, while she emerged victorious, she and her party suffered defeat.
This is a good thing, and there seems to be a movement amongst the people in Germany to take a stronger stand against immigration policy. The people opposed to Merkel’s polices made a statement, and it will be interesting to see in the coming year if she will back away from her open-borders policy in favor of a more secure Germany. It may be too late, as there are still more than a million refugees who don’t want to assimilate into German culture. But at least the German citizens are paying attention and trying to change their country’s current course.
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