Germany Goes Far Right in Three States

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Right-wing populist party Alternativ für Deutschland enters state parliament in Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Wurttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate with double-digit results in state elections, Grand Coalition fails in RP and SA, Greens win in BW but needs help, Chancellor Merkel in serious trouble

BERLIN/STUTTGART/MAGDEBURG/MAINZ- The winds of change are being felt across Germany, the day after the state elections in the states of Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Wurttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. Yesterday’s state elections featured a “Kantersieg” on the part of the Right-wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), as the Frauke Petry-led party, critical of European policies as well as the open-door policies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding refugees, stormed into the state parliamentary scene with 24% in SA, 15% in BW and 12% in RP.

In SA, the AfD is now the second strongest party in parliament, which is forcing minister Reiner Hasseloff to scramble to find a new coalition, for his partner party the SPD finished with 10% of the votes (finishing fourth behind the Left and AfD- its worst results in state party history), which is not enough to continue with the Grand Coalition. Another party looking for a new partner is the SPD in RP, where state minister Malu Dreyer is looking for a new coalition to replace the one with the Green party, as it barely made the 5% hurdle with enormous losses in the elections. Dreyer declared that all parties will be in talks except the AfD.

Winfried Kretschmann and his Green party can continue governing in Stuttgart, but despite maintaining a 31% vote in state elections, the AfD sliced into the voting scene, thus making the absolute governing of Baden-Wurrtemberg impossible. Talks are underway to provide support from the CDU, SPD and even the FDP to form either a traffic coalition or similar constellations. The results of the elections you will find here.

The statues and the National Theater with flowers on memory of the victims of the terror attacks in Paris.
The statues and the National Theater with flowers on memory of the victims of the terror attacks in Paris.

 

 

End of the Line for Angela Merkel?

Already, a coup d’ etat is brewing among the Christian Democrats and the Christian Socialists as calls for Chancellor Merkel to change course regarding the refugee policies are growing louder. Leading the pack is Horst Seehofer, the state minister of Bavaria, who blamed Merkel and her policies of allowing refugees to live in Germany, even for a short period of time, for the disaster in the three states. He stated in Bavarian channel BR “We should tell the public that we understand the results and will draw the consequences.”

Also in Visier was SPD director Siegmund Gabriel, who had to answer some difficult questions of how his party finished with the worst results in history. The SPD is partner of the CDU in Germany.

Despite statements by Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen claiming that the refugee issue is a European problem and that Merkel’s policies should remain on course, after increased attacks on planned housing throughout Germany, with a focus on parts of east half, combined with protests between supporters of the AfD and opponents and even internal strife within the CDU, it is a matter of time before the temperature hits the boiling point and Berlin suffers from the longest summer in modern history. And while we have no politically-motivated violence, as being practiced by Donald Trump in the US at the moment, making the US elections become the next 1968, if measures are not taken to either justify or modify the refugee policies as well as contain the increase in right-wing extremism, the German public may end up in a similar fix as in the US- and unless Merkel is forced to call for early elections, the next national elections are in two years!

 

frage für das forum

In light of the recent disaster in Saxony-Anhalt, Rhineland Palatinate and Baden Wurttemberg, what will happen next and what should Chancellor Merkel do? Vote here and feel free to comment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAST FACTS: In the last survey, where the question of whether the slogan “Wir sind das Volk” should be eliminated by law, two thirds of the voters favored keeping the slogan, while 13% would like to see a law protecting the slogan from abuse while discussing this in the classroom. Only 20% voted for the law. More on the vote and its origin here.

 

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Frage für das Forum: Can we make it?

Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border north of Flensburg. Photo taken in 2011
Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border north of Flensburg. Photo taken in 2011

 

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 &  frage für das forum

Can we make it? This is a question that has been on the minds of Germans and Europeans alike, as we try to cope with the problem with the influx of refugees entering the continent. There have been many discussions and even demonstrations for and against the policies of Angela Merkel, which calls for welcoming refugees who wish to stay there for at least a short period of time. Some of the discussions have even made it to the classroom, where the attitudes of  the students have, for the most part, been mixed.  From the observations of the author, who experimented this topic with a group of 8th graders recently, the opinions have been equal between yes, no and I don’t care. Many think that the refugee crisis eclipses the other news stories that are “more important.”

Picking up where it was left off in the previous article (click here), we decided to have a look at the arguments recently stated by Horst Seehofer, who calls for Germany to halt the inflow of refugees entering the country and German chancellor Angela Merkel, who favors welcoming the refugees as she sees this as a chance for the country and Europe to grow. The comparison of arguments are shown through a speech made by the former and an interview a talk show host had with the latter. For teachers wishing to present this to students in a social studies or German as a Foreign Language class, most of Merkel’s arguments are found in the first 15 minutes, while Seehofer’s speech is over six minutes. In either case, one can write down and compare the arguments between the two.

For those who don’t understand the situation and the potential that  immigrants have when coming to Europe, before looking at the arguments of the two actors, one should have a look at the summary of the refugee crisis via video below as well as link (by clicking here).

 

After taking a look at the pictures and the video, let’s have a look at the two videos at hand. In the first video, we have Bavarian minister Horst Seehofer who is an advocate of closing Germany to immigrants. Under Merkel’s plan, 800,000 would enter Germany, which Seehofer claims to be fatal, for the social system would be overwhelmed, there would not be many places for them to live, conflicts between the refugees and residents would arise, and lastly more money for refugees would mean less money for domestic policies, such as social welfare, education and infrastructure. He calls for halting the influx of refugees straight away and change course on policies like Hungary and other southern European nations. Have a look at his arguments and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What examples does he bring regarding the overload of social welfare in Bavaria?
  2. How would he like to bring an end to the influx?
  3. Do you think his arguments are justified and why?

 

The argument of Horst Seehofer:

 

In the second video, we have an interview between Anne Will and Chancellor Angela Merkel, where Merkel adopts the quote from US President Obama: “Yes, we can,” with her words: “Wir schaffen das.” (We can make it.) Merkel proposes to bring in 800,000 refugees but also calls on other European countries to help out as well. She sees many advantages of refugees living in Germany for the job market as well as the social and health care systems, despite claims that most of them will stay only temporarily before returning home after the war is over. She even balks at this idea (done by Hungary).

Listen and answer the following questions:

  1. Describe in detail how Angela Merkel wants to integrate the refugees into German life.
  1. What idea did Hungary carry out that Merkel is against and why?

  2. What advantages does Merkel see in the refugees in Germany?

  3. Why does she claim that many refugees will stay temporarily and then return to their home countries and what could be done to end the war and rebuild the country?

 

The argument of Angela Merkel during the interview:

In your opinion, who is in the right on this?

This one we don’t know yet, but the coming months will determine the results. While many plan to move further north- across the bridge in Flensburg to Denmark and Scandanavia, others see Germany as a place of refuge, and a place to start over. Judging by the pics and the first video in this article, the reasons behind their escape are logical. But even if border controls were reintroduced at places like the one down below next to the Bridge of Friendship, one thing is certain: many will find new homes eventually, be it here or the US, or elsewhere. Thanks to the factors that have driven many people to flee: war, drought, terrorism, all will stop at nothing to ensure that a new life is ahead for them. It is more of the question of whether it is only for a short time or permanent. But until we can answer that question, we should help them now as winter is right around the corner…..

 

Danish border controls. Passports were checked until 1995. Since that time, border controls were performed only once, which was 2011.
Danish border controls. Passports were checked until 1995. Since that time, border controls were performed only once, which was 2011.

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