Politics |Report

Merkel works on new direction for Germany as far right gains ground

Talk (16)

Charles Anderson

Charles Anderson

"thanks pete, agreed and have updated...."
Pete Young

Pete Young

"Adding "as right rises" to the headli..."
George Engels

George Engels

"Please can everyone updating this sto..."
George Engels

George Engels

"Hi Clive, my apologies. The story's "..."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose open-door refugee policy played a role in winning a fourth consecutive term, faces the tricky task of building a ruling coalition amid the rise of a nationalist, anti-Islam party.

Official preliminary results released early on September 25 had Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), along with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), winning 33 percent of the total vote, down from 41.5 percent four years ago. It was the CDU/CSU’s worst result since 1949.

In her acceptance speech to her party, Chancellor Merkel noted the significant role that immigration had played in the election.

Merkel said she would fight for a unified Europe and address illegal immigration and its causes.

The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) came in a distant second place with 20.5 percent of the vote, its worst result in post-WWII Germany.  SPD leader Martin Schulz said his party suffered a “crushing election defeat” and ruled out another “grand coalition” with the CDU/CSU.

However, Sunday’s biggest winner was the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which came in third place with 12.6 percent of the vote. The nationalistic, anti-Islam party – founded in 2013 – increased its share of the vote by 7.9 percent compared to the 2013 federal elections.

Despite a surge in support, all mainstream German parties have ruled out working with the AfD. Many regard the party’s Islamophobic and anti-EU positions with deep suspicion.

In a stunning post-election press conference announcement, AfD leader Frauke Petry abruptly announced she would be leaving her party. Instead, Petry – arguably the AfD’s most visible figure – said she would be serving as an independent MP for her constituency in Saxony.

Petry’s more moderate positions were increasingly at odds with those of other AfD party leaders, including party founder Alexander Gauland.

AfD co-leader Jörg Meuthen accused Petry of dropping a bombshell on her party.

“That was not discussed with us in advance. We knew nothing about it,” said Meuthen.

Merkel is expected to form a coalition with the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Green Party. The FDP won 10.7 percent of the vote – an increase of 5.9 percent compared to the 2013 federal elections – while the Greens garnered 8.9 percent of the total.

The German Chancellor has also said the CDU/CSU would not form a coalition with the Left Party, which won 9.2 percent of the vote.

Why does the German election matter? 

Although largely unsurprising, the election results still have important implications for domestic politics, German-EU relations, and Germany’s place in the world as a major economy.

Probably the most significant and likely consequence of yesterday’s vote is its detrimental impact on Merkel’s ability to steer the German government, according to an expert on German politics.

Dr Alexander Clarkson, lecturer in German and European and International Studies at King’s College London, told WikiTribune:

“She’s no longer seen as a winner”.

“It’s now quite clear that she’s not going to stand in 2021, so we begin to drift into a period where discussion about who’s going to succeed her is going to increase.”

Clarkson believes this potential power void will lead to an increase of party infighting. An intra- and inter-party power struggle would make it harder for Merkel to govern effectively on a national and international stage, particularly if she decides to form a coalition government with parties whose policy views differ significantly.

This could have significant knock-on effects on Germany’s role in the European Union (EU).

“Europe as well as the rest of the world needs a stable and functioning Germany Able to take action, able to send a clear message to partners as well as enemies,” says Clarkson.

“If you have a government that is both split within the parties in the coalition, as well as a coalition between three parties [the CDU/CSU, the FDP and the Greens] that have structural difficulties with one another, then it’s going to become more difficult for Germany to speak in a clear voice.”

He says Merkel will have to make significant concessions to the Greens if she wants to be able to govern, particularly with ecological, development and foreign policy. For the FDP, Clarkson says Merkel will be forced to look at “difficult” compromises over tax reform, over investment in digital infrastructure and the euro.

Clarkson believes Merkel’s underwhelming electoral performance is partly due to her long tenure as German chancellor.

“She’s an easy scapegoat for what’s going on in German society. She’s been around forever.”

Clarkson says it will take half a generation for society to adjust to the influx of people due to Merkel’s “open door” refugee policy, which saw more than a million asylum seekers enter Germany. While domestic backlash against the policy has diminished, Clarkson says that there are a host of unresolved economic and social issues in east Germany that are easy targets for populists.

He believes these concerns have provided fertile ground for the AfD’s anti-establishment and nationalistic message to sprout.

But he also cautions against overstating the AfD’s influence on German politics.

“There’s a lot of people in the AfD that want to run it and fewer that want to follow. That’s going to be a huge problem.”

More importantly, Clarkson believes the AfD faces an identity crisis.

“It’s a composite of national conservatism and radical right. The radical right isn’t the biggest part of party, but it’s the best organised. The national conservatism [contingent] has a large number of MPs and members, but is less-well organised,” he says. “If the AfD survives [the latest power struggle] and manages to contain the radical right element of the party, it could expand.”

But what if it doesn’t?

“It will put off a lot of people who wanted to vote national conservative but got Nazis instead,” Clarkson says.


Started by

United Kingdom
George Engels is a staff journalist and producer at WikiTribune. He has a background in history and philosophy and a strong interest in international politics and security, and social affairs. His work has been published by The Sunday Times, The Camden New Journal, The West End Extra and the Islington Tribune.

History for stories "Merkel works on new direction for Germany as far right gains ground"

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19 April 2018

• (view) . . Comment: Sakib Rasul‎; 09:56:27, 19 Apr 2018 . . Peter Bale (talk | contribs)‎‎ ( Comment -> Thanks for that suggested change to the disinformation story. I reversed it because your change actually switched the intention of the story which is to counter or explain misinformation not actually spread it. )

17 April 2018

19 December 2017

Talk for Story "Merkel works on new direction for Germany as far right gains ground"

Talk about this Story

  1. Rewrite

    Adding “as right rises” to the headline is great by putting a new, forward spin on the story.

    Now the text needs to catch up, by incorporating into the lede what’s now in the sixth paragraph — that the big winner was right-wing Alternative für Deutschland.

    I’d suggest double-barreling the lede something like this:
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose open-door refugee policy played a role in winning a fourth consecutive term, faces the tricky task of building a ruling coalition amid the rise of a nationalist, anti-Islam party.

    The story deserves a write-through. And while we’re at it, we should change the date from Sept. 25 to today.

    1. Rewrite

      thanks pete, agreed and have updated. cheers

  2. Rewrite

    Please can everyone updating this story be careful when deleting text close to the embedded tweet?

  3. Rewrite

    I think prohably you meant ‘upset’ rather than ‘upstart’ for the AfD suprise showing in the election?

    1. Rewrite

      Also, thank you for catching those extra words, great spot! With regard to the “upset” v “upstart”: I didn’t think the AfD’s showing were particularly upsetting (read, surprising), since most pollsters had them at about 9-11%. But they were the election’s upstart, given the way in which they appealed to voters. Happy to discuss further if you feel this isn’t an accurate depiction.

  4. Rewrite

    Hello. Why are we saying in par 2 ‘It was one of……….?’ Is it not better to say ‘worst since 1949’? http://wahl.tagesschau.de/wahlen/2017-09-24-BT-DE/index.shtml

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Clive. Thanks for the suggestion, we’ll take it into account.

      Thanks for your suggested headline but we’ve decided to stick with “Merkel works on new direction for Germany as right rises”.

      1. Rewrite

        Hi George. The headline suggestion wasn’t from me – I think it’s from Pete in the comment below mine.

        1. Rewrite

          Hi Clive, my apologies. The story’s “Edit History” shows that you reverted the headline back to what Pete Young had suggested, which after input from Peter Bale, we decided to change to the current headline. Apologies for the confusion.

  5. Rewrite

    Good day, all. I’d like to offer a couple of thoughts on this headline.
    “Report: What are the implications of Germany’s 2017 federal elections?”

    Using “Report” at the start of the he’d suggests that there’s, well, some kind of report that we’re citing. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, so what’s the purpose of saying “Report”? Is it that we’re signaling that we’re reporting on this topic? At the very least, this word is superfluous throat-clearing; at worst, it suggests we’re citing something (a report of some kind) that doesn’t exist and damages our credibility.

    “What are the implications of Germany’s 2017 federal elections?” OK, says the reader, I’ll bite: What ARE the implications?

    The answer is buried 15 paragraphs down:
    “Probably the most significant and likely consequence of yesterday’s vote is its detrimental impact on Merkel’s ability to steer the German government, according to an expert on German politics.”

    If this is what the story means, then it should be the lead.

    1. Rewrite

      I’m not convinced on the “Report” either. Regarding the title, would changing it to “Germany’s federal election results and their implications” suffice?

      1. Rewrite

        Hi, George. I’d suggest something more definitive, such as “Merkel’s weaker election margin threatens control of Germany’s direction”

  6. Rewrite

    George – my last edit, although minor seems to have changed the format of the elections result chart. though I don’t how. if so, my apologies. let me know what happened for my edification.

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Kevin. Already fixed. My guess is that you unwittingly erased some of the HTML code of the embedded tweet. For future reference, be careful deleting content directly before or after embedded tweets. `

      But if this happens again, simply go to “Edit Story” –>
      click on the “Text” box, which you can find on the top-right corner above the written content –->

      this will display the story in HTML format –>

      find and delete the corrupted embedded tweet –>

      replace corrupted embedded tweet with new embedded tweet

      I realise this isn’t exactly the most straightforward explanation, so we will be uploading a “How to” video shortly

      1. Rewrite

        Thanks, George. I was using a tablet. Won’t use it in the future, only laptop from here on in. Again my apologies for that.

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