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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:05 pm    Post subject: German Election , Merkel holds on but AFD wins seats Reply with quote

( there was an election in German , Merkel's party appears to have won the most seats , however not clear who they could form a coalition with . the alternative for Germany a right of centre party has won seats and got 13 % of the vote )

German election: Merkel holds onto leadership but far-right wins first seats since WW2

ANGELA Merkel has held onto her German leadership but a hard-right party has now entered parliament for the first time in 72 years.

By Alix Culbertson

PUBLISHED: 16:53, Sun, Sep 24, 2017 | UPDATED: 17:56, Sun, Sep 24, 2017

Angela MerkelGetty

Angela Merkel has won the German elections

Exit polls for the German election have revealed Angela Merkel will remain Chancellor but her victory has been overshadowed by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party winning its first seats in the Bundestag.

Mrs Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party gained 32.9 per cent of seats, her coalition Social Democrats Party (SPD) led by former EU leader Martin Schulz, gained 20.2 per cent and the AfD 13.3 per cent.

The Left party gained nine per cent of seats, the Greens 9.3 per cent and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) 10.5 per cent.

The AfD is now the third largest party in the Bundestag after it gained 119,000 votes from citizens who had previously not voted, and almost a million from the CDU.

Mrs Merkel's sister party, the CSU, which operates in Bavaria, had its worst result since 1949.

Mrs Merkel was predicted to gain more seats, however many Germans blame her for allowing thousands of migrants into the country two years ago during her open-door policy.

Mr Schulz's SPD party has said it no longer wants to be in a coalition with the CDU and wants to be the official opposition to give a viable alternative to the AfD whose leader has made pro-Nazi comments.

Because of this, the only option left for Mrs Merkel is to to form a coalition with the Greens and FDP - called a 'Jamaican coalition' due to the three parties' green, yellow and black colours.

Later this evening there will be a live TV debate where the leaders will decide who will go into a coalition with each other.

As the polls closed at 6pm local time (5pm BST) voter turnout was predicted at 75 per cent compared to 71.5 per cent in the 2013 elections.

Mrs Merkel, told a gathering of CDU politicians and supporters: “Friends, ladies and gents, of course we would have wanted a better result.

“But the strategic goals of the election campaign were achieved, no government can be built against us.

“This difficult election campaign was fun.

“After 12 years it is anything but certain the CDU is the strongest party. I want to gain AfD voters' confidence back by taking their fears seriously and also with good policies."


Mrs Merkel told supporters she was disappointed but at least they won

Volker Kauder, the CDU's faction chief, said: "I am very disappointed with the result.

"We would have liked a better result."

SPD's chairman, Dietmar Woidke, said: "This is a bitter evening for the social Democrats."

SDP leader Martin Schulz, said: "It's a difficult and bitter day for the Social Democrats.

"There were fewer voters than we expected.

“The SPD will fight for principles and values of tolerance, respect and common values.

“With the percentage we got, we obviously didn’t manage to keep our traditional voter basis, despite many social successes.

“Especially depressing is the success of the AfD.

“We didn't manage to convince our traditional voters that Germany is strong enough to take in refugees.”

ARD-DeutschlandTrend, who compiled the exit polls, found 60 per cent of those who voted for the AfD, did so because they were disappointed with other parties.

Of those who voted for the AfD, 89 per cent said they voted for the party because the CDU has neglected its refugee policy and the worries of the German people.

Eight-six per cent said they thought 12 years of Mrs Merkel as Chancellor was enough and 74 per cent said the CDU has had too many conservative positions over the past few years.

A total of 49 per cent of voters thought the AfD understands people do not feel safe anymore, 37 per cent said they like the AfD wants to reduce the influence of Islam in Germany and 35 per cent said they like the AfD wants to reduce the influx of foreigners and refugees.

However, the majority, or 86 per cent of voters, felt the AfD does not distance itself enough from far-right, extremist positions.

Martin SchulzNC

Martin Schulz, leader of the SPD, said it was a bitter day for his party

In Germany's proportional election system, low turn-out can boost smaller parties, such as the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), giving them more seats from the same number of votes.

In regional elections this year, Merkel's conservatives suffered setbacks from the AfD, which profited from resentment at her 2015 decision to open German borders to more than one million migrants.

But with the migrant issue under control this year, Merkel has overcome earlier doubts over running and thrown herself into a punishing campaign schedule, presenting herself as an anchor of stability in an uncertain world.

Visibly happier, Merkel campaigned with renewed conviction: a resolve to re-tool the economy for the digital age, to head off future migrant crises, and to defend a Western order shaken by Trump's victory last November.

The overall fall in turnout masked great regional variation. North Rhine-Westfalia,Germany's most populous state, reported a 3 percent increase in turnout, while the city of Munich saw a 10 percent increase. In some of the eastern states where the AfD is strong, turnout held steady.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

›World Politics
German election results: Urban liberal voters turn out to contain far-right AfD

Turnout in wealthier urban areas hostile to AfD is up, preliminary figures show
Jon Stone, Chloe Farand Berlin |
@joncstone |
2 hours ago|

A strong showing for the far-right AfD party in the German elections may be contained by a surge in liberal urban voters turning out to stop them, early indications suggest.

The anti-immigration and anti-Islam Alternative fur Deutschland is expected to be the first far-right party to win MPs in the Bundestag for half a century when polls close today – but the party may not fare quite as well as expected if early turnout figures are to be believed.

Numbers released by the German federal returning officer in the early afternoon show turnout across the country was roughly static at 41.1 per cent, compared to 41.4 per cent in the most recent previous elections in 2013.

German far right to win MPs for first time in half a century

But the overall national picture appears to be disguising a shift on the ground, with voters turning out in force in many wealthier urban areas, while poorer and more rural areas associated with the AfD see lower turnout.

The state of Hesse, which contains the city of Frankfurt, the well-to-do financial capital of continental Europe, saw turnout substantially up, from 40 per cent at 2pm on election day 2013 to 45.9 per cent at the same time this year.

Meanwhile Thuringia, the so-called “green heart of Germany”, saw turnout as of 2pm down to just 50.9 per cent. It was 55.6 per cent at the same time the same year.

Turnout in wealthy the wealthy port city of Hamburg was up, while the former coal mining and industrial area of Saarland saw a fall in turnout.

The German capital Berlin – which is poorer than the rest of the county – appeared to buck the trend of urban areas having significantly higher turnout. It was roughly static at 27.2 per cent, up just 0.1 per cent on the last time as of 2pm.

Turnout in cities like the wealthy finance capital Frankfurt is markedly up on the 2013 elections (Reuters)

Higher turnout in urban areas would likely favour more established parties such as the liberal FDP and Greens, who do well in cities – barring a major reversal of previous trends.

AfD sources in Berlin said they expected their results to average between 11.4 per cent and 14.6 per cent – with stronger showings in former East German areas.

With polls open until 6pm local time there is still plenty of time for voters in other areas to get turn up at polling stations, however, and the picture could change.

German politicians, including the president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, urged voters to go to the polls this morning.

"It has perhaps never been as clear that the elections are about the future of democracy and Europe," he wrote in the tabloid newspaper Bild.

"If you don't vote, others decide."


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rightwing AfD make historic breakthrough in German elections

Nationalists poised to inject conflict into Bundestag tradition of consensus politics

This year’s election is set to go down in history as the moment Germany’s most successful rightwing party since the second world war stormed into parliament.

Exit polls released after voting ended on Sunday suggested the Alternative for Germany (AfD) had won as much as 13 per cent and at least 80 seats, making it the third-biggest party in the Bundestag.

It is an extraordinary feat for a fiercely anti-immigration, anti-Islam organisation that was formed only four years ago and was long dismissed as a fringe phenomenon. It would also be the first time such a rightwing party has sat in the German parliament in more than 50 years.

As the first result was revealed a deafening cheer went up from AfD supporters gathered at a club in central Berlin. A cascade of blue and white balloons fell from the ceiling and the crowd broke into a rousing rendition of the German national anthem.“We are in the German Bundestag and we will change this country,” said Alexander Gauland, one of the party’s top two candidates in the election.

“We will make sure that what the people say on the streets finally plays a role in parliament.”Mr Gauland said the party would “chase [Angela] Merkel” and “take back our country”.“From now there is an opposition party in the Bundestag again,” he said.The AfD’s success has come as a shock to moderates who thought the horrors of Germany’s Nazi past had immunised the country to the appeal of hard-right nationalism.

They are now trying frantically to assess how the party’s breakthrough will affect the country’s political culture.We will try to revive a culture of debate and provide a real alternative to the mushy consensus we have now Alexander Gauland, AfD candidateThis month, Sigmar Gabriel, the foreign minister, admitted to a certain sadness in the last session of the outgoing parliament — “because I knew it was highly likely that when I come back to the Bundestag there will be real Nazis standing at the podium for the first time since 1945”.

The initial signs are that this year’s election could be a watershed moment, ending old ways of doing things in the Bundestag. The AfD, which revels in breaking taboos and attacking the “cartel” politics of the “old parties”, will inject more conflict into a system that has for decades leaned towards consensus and compromise.

Germans have had a foretaste during the election campaign, in which AfD supporters have routinely drowned out Ms Merkel’s stump speeches with choruses of whistles and boos and lambasted the chancellor as a “liar”, “traitor” and “oath-breaker”. The party’s entry into parliament will “lead to a polarisation of political debate,” says Alexander Hensel of the Göttingen Institute for Democracy Research, who has studied the AfD’s performance in Germany’s regional legislatures.

“You will see a mixture of sharp critiques of the established ‘cartel’ parties, as well as personal attacks on individual politicians and deliberate provocations to raise the party’s profile.”Mr Gauland says the party will revive a parliamentary system that has fallen into torpor under Ms Merkel. “Can you name me one interesting debate we had over the Greek bailout? The NSA espionage affair? The Russia sanctions?”, Mr Gauland said last week. “We will try to revive a culture of debate and provide a real alternative to the mushy consensus we have now.”

There are fears the AfD could introduce a shrilly radical tone not seen in Germany’s national parliament since the 1930s. The party’s list of Bundestag candidates includes hard-right ideologues, conspiracy theorists and politicians with close ties to extremist organisations ranging from radical Burschenschaften, or student leagues, to neo-Nazi groups.Senior AfD official Paul Hampel celebrates his party's gains in Germany's federal elections © ReutersOne of its top candidates is Jens Maier, a judge, who has criticised Germany’s “cult of shame” over the war.

Another is Wilhelm von Gottberg, who has described the holocaust as a “myth, a dogma that is protected from all free historical research”. Another is Petr Bystron, who has been on German domestic intelligence’s watchlist since March because of his support for the extreme rightwing Identitarian Movement.The list also includes figures such as Sebastian Münzenmaier, who is on trial on charges of grievous bodily harm and attempted robbery over an alleged attack on a group of FSV Mainz 05 football fans in 2012.

A study published last month by the Duisburg Institute of Speech and Social Research found that of the 235 candidates put up by the AfD, 98 are extreme rightwingers and only 40 are from the moderate wing of the party. (The study said 97 of the candidates kept such a low profile that it was hard to tell where they stood politically).The AfD was not always so rightwing, beginning life in 2013 as a Eurosceptic “professors’ party” opposed to the Greek bailouts.

But it shifted sharply to the right after an internal coup in 2015 that left Frauke Petry in charge. She turned it into Germany’s leading critic of Ms Merkel’s open-door refugee policy, a shift that boosted its rating in opinion polls as public misgivings about the refugee influx grew. By this summer it had gained representation in 13 of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments.Political scientists say Mr Gabriel’s designation of the AfD as a bunch of Nazis was wrong.

Michael Wolffsohn, the German-Israeli historian, says the AfD is typical of the new crop of European rightwing parties that have emerged as “reactions to new problems which haven’t been dealt with by the traditional parties” — such as the abuse of the right to asylum and the rise of Islamist terrorism.

Inside Germany's rightwing politicsPlay videoJürgen Falter, politics professor at Mainz university, says that the AfD’s entry into the Bundestag should not be overdramatised: to him it puts Germany on a par with other EU countries where rightwing parties have long been part of the political landscape.“[The AfD’s success] is not a cause for concern but a normalisation of German politics after our history,” he adds.Additional reporting by Stefan Wagstyl


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a word to the wise ... in Europe, whenever the subject of immigration comes up, parties spring up anew, from outside the system, and they are invariably characterized as 'extreme rght wing' parties. Often enough, they are not even conservative in the North American sense.

Mme Le Pen in France is such a case. She's more like Trump, willing to run a welfare state that can sustain itself but wanting to control immigration for cultural and economic reasons. But the opponents stir memories of the Nazis, and cash in politically.

We should understand that societies all over the west -- except, perhaps, Canada and Australia -- are looking for ways of stopping the present scale of immigration. Not because they bear any special animosity, but only to preserve their own culture's control over the public space.

Immigration is the biggest issue in Germany. She seems to be weathering the storm.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the Guardian's report.

What the stunning success of AfD means for Germany and Europe
Cas Mudde

The radical right party profited from the fact immigration was the number one election issue. But can its breakthrough last?
Sunday 24 September 2017 19.27 BST Last modified on Monday 25 September 2017 00.35 BST

In 1991 Belgium had its (first) black Sunday, when the populist radical right Flemish Block gained 6.8% of the national vote. Since then many other western European countries have gone through a similar experience, from Denmark to Switzerland. And now, even the ever stable Germany has its own schwarzer Sonntag, and it’s blacker than most people had expected.

The populist radical-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party not only enters the Bundestag, the German parliament, but does so almost certainly as the third biggest party, with a stunning 13.3%, an increase of 8.8 percentage points according to the exit poll. Moreover, both the centre-right CDU/CSU and the centre-left SPD scored their worst electoral results in the postwar era, with 32.5% and 20% respectively. This means that AfD got two-thirds of the SPD vote, and 40% of the CDU/CSU vote.

Polls from German state TV, showed that AfD has its Hochburgen (strongholds) in the former communist east of the country. While it scored on average 11% in west Germany, it got 21.5% in east Germany, more than twice as much. This is in line with its results in the regional state elections, in which AfD also gained its largest support in the east.

In short, the relationship between AfD and its voters is weak, and is mostly defined by opposition to other parties

AfD got more votes from past non-voters (1.2 million) than from the CDU/CSU (1 million) or SPD (500,000). In many ways this is an anti-Merkel vote, reflecting opposition to her controversial Willkommenspolitik towards refugees, which not only pushed some voters of mainstream parties to switch but also mobilised previous non-voters. The same poll also shows, for example, that 89% of AfD voters thought that Merkel’s immigration policies ignored the “concerns of the people” (ie German citizens); 85% want stronger national borders; and 82% think that 12 years of Merkel is enough. In other words, AfD has clearly profited from the fact that immigration was the number one issue in these elections.

Does this shocking result mean that AfD is going to be the third force in German politics in the future? There are many reasons to doubt this. First of all, the poll showed that a stunning 60% of AfD voters voted “against all other parties” and only 34% voted out of conviction for AfD. This is in sharp contrast to voters of all other parties. More than 70% said that it would be good if you could vote for CSU outside Bavaria – CSU is a much more conservative and rightwing party than Merkel’s CDU, but only contests election in the southern state – while 86% think that the party does not distance itself enough from “extreme right positions”. [....]

Two things to note: the anti-immigrant party increased its vote by 8.8%; second, the supporters object to being assoiated with right-wing parties.

On the first, just to judge ... can you imagine what would happen in Canadian politics if 8.8% of the vote shifted? It'd almost certainly mean a change of government. But it doesn't do much more that cause Merkel some adjustments. That's proportional voting in action.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+++ German election, the day after: AfD's Frauke Petry won't join parliamentary group - live updates +++

AfD co-chair Frauke Petry shocked her party colleagues by saying she won't join their parliamentary group in the Bundestag. The SPD's Martin Schulz repeated that he wants to go into opposition. Read all the updates here.

Deutschland PK AfD (Reuters/F. Bensch)

AfD co-chair Frauke Petry will not join her party's parliamentary party in the new Bundestag following months of feuding between her and the rest of the AfD leadership.
Leaders of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) are set to discuss their party's parliamentary union with Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).
On Sunday, the AfD won 12.6 percent of the national vote and will enter the Bundestag for the first time.

All updates in Central European Summer Time (UTC +2)

12:20 FDP leader Christian Lindner has told reporters that he intends to lead his party in the new parliament, but gave little away over how talks were progressing on forming a so-called "Jamaica coalition" with the Union parties and the Greens.

However, Lindner did reaffirm his pro-business party's terms for going into such a coalition. They include opposing any wealth tax, ruling out any ban on internal combustion engines and fostering an open market for technology companies. He also ruled at any cap on refugees entering Germany, putting his party at odds with CSU, another prospective coalition partner.

On Europe, Lindner said that the eurozone's "stability-oriented" policies must be resumed. Lindner once again vocally opposed any plans for a common eurozone budget that could be used to prop up indebted European states.

Read more: What sets Germany's 'liberal' FDP apart

Lindner's remarks could pour cold water over Merkel's relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron, who has made a common budget for all 19 eurozone members the centerpiece of hisEuropean reform agenda.

German election: who are the FDP?

12:13 The Left Party, which came fifth with 9.2 percent of the vote on Sunday, has positioned itself as the main opposition force against the far-right AfD in the new Bundestag. Party leader Bernd Riexinger said on Monday that "the AfD must know that in us it will find its toughest opponents and that we will decisively oppose any nationalist and racist positions."

Riexinger also indicated that his party would also reassess its social policies, admitting that the AfD had managed to exploit Germany's social divisions in its favor.

Read more: Left Party's Sahra Wagenknecht 'wants no part in shaping predatory capitalism'

Despite the Left Party making electoral gains in this year's federal election, the FDP and AfD's entry into the new parliament saw it lose its position as the main opposition party.

11:46 Seehofer has sought to clarify remarks attributed to him regarding the CSU's union with Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. According to German news agency dpa, Seehofer said he did not imply that his party should break up its parliamentary group with the the CDU. However, he did reaffirm that the topic would be discussed among the CSU leadership.

Watch video 06:59

Where next for the CDU and SPD?

11:15 According to the Agence France Presse news agency, CSU leader Horst Seehofer has said he intends to put the party's future relationship with Angela Merkel's CDU up for discussion. Speaking to party members, Seehofer was reported to have said he would leave the question open as to whether the two parties once again form their traditional parliamentary group in the new Bundestag.

Newly elected members of the CDU and CSU are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss the continuation of the current parliamentary group, which has existed since 1949. Under the current arrangement, the CDU campaigns in all German federal states except Bavaria, while the CSU is only represented in Bavaria.

The CSU had a dismal showing in Sunday's vote by its usual standards, taking just 38.8 percent of the vote in Bavaria — a slump of more than 10 percent compared to 2013.

Despite being sister parties, the CDU and CSU have repeatedly clashed in the past two years over Merkel's open-door migration policy. In its election manifesto, the CSU called for the annual number of refugees to Germany to be capped at 200,000 — an idea Merkel has rejected.

Read more: AfD, CDU, SPD: Where do German parties stand on refugees, asylum and immigration?

11:00 Social Democrats candidate for chancellor Martin Schulz has recommended the current social welfare and labor minister, Andrea Nahles, to take over as the SPD's parliamentary leader and leader of the opposition.

The Social Democrats' election candidate also reaffirmed his party's decision not to enter into a second consecutive grand coalition government with the conservative Union parties. "I would like to make it quite clear that the decision has been made, we are the opposition in this country," Schulz told reporters on Monday morning. "We will see what kind of government will be formed. We're going to confront this government in a constructive manner as the opposition."

Read more: Interview - With Andrea Nahles, German Labor Minister (SPD)

10:53 The CSU's former minister president of Bavaria, Günther Beckstein, has said the Greens and the CSU are "like fire and water." FDP vice-chair Wolfgang Kubicki has said talks on a CDU/CSU-FDP-Green coalition will "not be a sure-fire success."

Merkel mulls coalition options

10:18 SPD top candidate Martin Schulz said once again that his party would go into opposition in the new parliament and not enter a new grand coalition with Chancellor Merkel's CDU and the CSU.

The Social Democrats only managed to take 20.5 percent of the vote in Sunday's federal election, its worst result in Germany's post-war history.

09:52 Following Petry's departure, Gauland said he did not believe his statements were responsible for Petry's decision.

Petry had publically criticized Gauland for saying that the AfD would "go after" the new government and for saying that Germany should be proud of its soldiers in the First and Second World Wars, which she said were not constructive and could push voters away from the party.

Watch video 03:20

Why did people vote for the AfD?

09:34 AfD co-chair Jörg Meuthen apologized for the incident and said he "had had no knowledge" of Petry's decision, which he said was a "bombshell."

Petry later referenced inner party disagreements and her belief that the AfD could offer nothing more than opposition for her decision.

"We should be open about the fact there there is conflict regarding content within the AfD, we should not pretend it doesn't exist," Petry told reporters. She added that the party had become "anarchical" in the weeks leading up to the election and "cannot offer the voter a credible platform for government."

09:16 Frauke Petry, the co-chair and longtime public face of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), said Monday at a party press conference she will not join the AfD's parliamentary party in the new legislative period.

The surprise announcement shocked colleagues present at the conference that included AfD top candidates Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland and escalated a months-long inner-party feud.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Petry said: "I decided after careful reflection that I will not sit with the (AfD) parliamentary group."

Read more: Far-right AfD enters German parliament: What it means for German politics

She then promptly left the room without taking questions, which her colleagues had apparently not expected.

Petry won the vote in her Saxony constituency. The far-right AfD won 12.6 per cent of the vote in Sunday's nationwide election and will enter the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, for the first time as the third-largest party with 94 seats.

amp, dm/se (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)

This is a developing story, please keep refreshing the page for updates.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is some more from the same article, which is being added to as news emerges. Just hit the link in RCOs most recent post.

... 13:50 German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she acknowledged that the far-right AfD rose to become Germany's third largest party on the back of a campaign that centered on criticizing her and condemning her decision to let over a million refugees enter the country over the past two years. However, she stressed that the AfD would have no influence on the future government's policies. "The parties that are capable of forming coalitions with each other will seek solutions — there are of course differences ... but AfD will have no influence," she said.
13:35 On forming a new government, Merkel said she intends to hold coalition talks with the FDP, the Greens and the Social Democrats.
The SPD, however, has ruled out forming a second consecutive grand coalition with Merkel's conservatives. That leaves the chancellor with little choice but to seek a three-way coalition with the business-friendly FDP and the traditionally left-leaning Greens, which would be unprecedented at the national level.
13:30 Angela Merkel has just started speaking to the press, giving what appears to be a sobering speech despite her election victory. She said that her CDU party has been analyzing how it lost more than 1.4 million voters to the FDP and just under a million voters to the AfD.

There are about 65 million voters in Germany and about 50 million of them voted, just to give us the scale of the changes. The interesting thing is that the logical coalition partners that Merkel might seek have turned their back on her. They would prefer not to be in government rather than join her coalition. She will have to ally herself with some parties that are hostile to her brand of 'conservatism' in order to squelch the AfD's influence.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More details ... these from Mark Steyn.

... the post-Nazi complex proportional-representation electoral system was designed by the Allies specifically to produce boring results, and to make anything non-boring all but impossible. And by those standards Sunday was the biggest stunner in seventy years.

First of all, a dominant political figure is no longer such. You need an estimated 355 members (depending on the number of "overhang" seats - please, don't ask) for a majority in the Bundestag. Previously, Mutti Merkel's Christian Democrat/Christian Social Union had 311 and so governed in a "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats - or "GroKo" (a neologism coined by abbreviating Große Koalition). This is the equivalent of a Republican/Democrat coalition in Washington, or a Tory/Liberal coalition in Ottawa, or Tory/Labour in London, Liberal/Labor in Canberra: It's essentially a two-party one-party state. Regardless of which of the two potential governing parties you vote for, you wind up with the same left-of-center/right-of-left-of-center coalition. This cozy establishment partnership had governed in Germany for eight of the last twelve years, but it is not a symptom of a healthy stable democracy: "GroKo" isn't merely short for Große Koalition; it's also short for "There is literally no alternative".

On Sunday GroKo fell apart. Before the election, the "grand coalition" held 504 of the 598 seats plus the then 33 "overhang" seats (again, don't ask: it'll make your head hurt). Today it's down to 399. Both major parties - Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU and Martin Schulz's SPD scored their worst results since the foundation of the German Federal Republic in the rubble of the Third Reich. Frau Merkel lost 65 seats and Herr Schulz 40. The latter has said that the SPD will not be part of any new government. So GroKo is over.

Meanwhile, having been told there is no alternative, German voters went looking for one and found Alternative für Deutschland. Founded a few months before the last German election, AfD has all the problems that any new party attracts in democratic societies, but it fought a nimble election campaign, with witty and effective advertising. The poster of two lissome lovelies in swimsuits with the tag "Burqas? Here we prefer bikinis" attracted most attention, and caused a fit of the vapors on this side of the Atlantic among the pearl-clutching pajama boys who police American progressivism. More telling was the poster above, an explicit rebuke to Mutti Merkel that all these strapping young "Syrian" "teenagers" were needed because of Germany's collapsed birth rates: A pregnant woman accompanied by the slogn "New Germans? We'll make them ourselves" - which, indeed, is the only solution to the problem that doesn't involve the utter extinction of some of the oldest nations on the planet. Nevertheless, Vox pronounced that this poster was straight out of Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale: To the nincompoops of American liberalism, the party that doesn't want women hidden away in faceless, anonymous body bags is the harbinger of the new patriarchy.

The reaction of the German establishment was even loopier. The former leader of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, warned that "for the first time since the end of the Second World War, real Nazis will sit in the German Parliament". AfD has some coarse types among its membership, but, even down the murkier end of the batting order, they're not actually Nazis, and demonizing their voters will not work. Last year I spoke to dozens of women who had either been sexually assaulted themselves (in Cologne and elsewhere) or had their daughters assaulted (in public swimming baths) by "refugees". None were "right-wing"; almost all were liberal and thought of themselves as such. Yet a significant proportion told me they were considering voting AfD because every other party denied there was any issue here, and were insistent, as are the likes of Herr Gabriel, that you can't even talk about it.

So, if you can't talk about it, best not to talk about it next time the pollster asks who you're voting for. Hence the now familiar phenomenon of the "unacceptable" party outperforming its pre-election polls. The shut-up crowd learn nothing. Anti-AfD protesters were out in the streets last night shouting down the new Nazis - which seems a pretty sure bet to intensify the phenomenon of "shy" AfD voters, and accelerate the divisions between West and East Germany. It is not a sane or prudent response to what ought to be a sobering moment for GroKo types: A party that did not exist until four years ago is now the third largest in the Bundestag with 94 seats.

Below them, Germany's traditional third party - the Free Democrats - were pushed into fourth place, and "the Left" (an admirably straightforward party name) and the Greens make up the rest. That's another reason why the SPD has announced they're out of the grand coalition. If Germany were to remain governed by a Merkel/Schulz GroKo, the next largest party in the Bundestag gets to be the Official Opposition - and that would be AfD, and nobody in Berlin's establishment wants to normalize AfD any more than Sunday's election results did.

To be sure, Mrs Merkel came out on top and, after haggling and horse-trading, will emerge as Chancellor of a pantomime-horse coalition comprising CDU/CSU, FDP and Greens. So she "won" - on Hillaire Belloc grounds:

Always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

As that young German lad told the lady who asked me the election question, he was worried about the rise of the AfD. So he kept a-hold of Nurse - but two thirds of his countrymen did not. Just to be clear on that, Trump's lousiest approval ratings are more than the percentage of German voters who backed Merkel.

Where did their votes go? The AfD got just under 13 per cent, which by comparison with, say, the SPD's 20 per cent is pretty impressive. But these tallies were not evenly distributed. In the former West Germany, AfD got about 11 per cent, which is a good result. In the former East Germany, it got just under 22 per cent, which is a spectacular result. AfD came second in East Germany, and, among East German men, first.

So a united Germany is now a microcosm, within a supposed single state, of the broader split within a supposedly united Europe: Just as western EU politicians are still hot for "refugees" and ongoing Islamization, eastern EU politicians are implacably opposed. Germany mirrors that same division.

Things will ebb and flow in the coming electoral cycle, according to how explicitly suicidal Frau Merkel et al make their immigration policies and how many trucks and vans the more excitable Mohammedans are willing to plough through the sidewalks of Berlin, Nice, Barcelona, Stockholm, London and wherever's next. But this issue is not going away, because it's an existential threat: One reason why East Germany, and Hungary and Romania and the rest, managed to endure Nazism, fascism, Communism and the other hellish perversions of the 20th century, is that through it all they retained at least the consolations of culture. Islamization denies them even that.

And, if Herr Gabriel & Co don't like AfD, they should consider a point I've been reiterating for over a decade:

If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones.

East Germany has already turned. If you don't want others to join them, you need to provide an alternative yourselves.

This is clearly a massive protest against the immigraion rulings Merkel has imposed. A point Canadians should ponder -- it is exactly proportional representation that has stifled a reasonable compromise on this issue. It, combined with the EU apparatus, diffused responsibility for the decision, and Merkel took it off the rails -- no doubt with an eye to future industrial labour, needed to fund the welfare state.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While the AfD's victory is significant;
Its much like Geert Wilders's PVV breakthrough a few months ago.

Him and his party will sit in opposition with limited power to do anything in the face of the the coalition that maintains a majority.

What I do find very interesting is the FDP's return with 80 seats and a likely position within the CDU Coalition as the second largest party.

Replacing the SPD (Socialist Democratic Party) with the FDP who are largely pro business as the largest coalition ally to the CDU is likely where the step more to the right will occur from an Economic perspective.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have found out some more. Merkel's party was in a coalition with the Social Democrats, and they also took a hit similar in size to the hit Merkel's party took -- they lost 11% of their support. Previously, the coalition was hugely dominant, and was called the Grand Coalition (in German).

On the other hand, the AfD shares the protest vote with another small party. So the swing to anti-immigrant parties was larger than what went to the AfD. It looks to me like it's a 20%-ish swing in votes, perhaps more. Even so, they still may not be rid of Merkel.

However, the Social Democrats are no longer willing to enter a coalition with her, so she's in a pickle at the moment. She has to solicit support with a bunch of splinter parties of the left, the Greens, etc. Her party is still the biggest party, at about 30%, but she needs more. She is supposedly the conservative, but really, her party is just a tad less leftish than the Social Democrats.

She may be doomed anyway.

She was a pretty solid politician before she made her insane move on Moslem immigration.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugs wrote:

However, the Social Democrats are no longer willing to enter a coalition with her, so she's in a pickle at the moment. She has to solicit support with a bunch of splinter parties of the left, the Greens, etc. Her party is still the biggest party, at about 30%, but she needs more. She is supposedly the conservative, but really, her party is just a tad less leftish than

She needs two;
Basically to form the "Jamaica Coalition" as they refer to it they need FDP - 80 seats (Which is good) and the Greens - 67 seats (Which is still better than the SPD).

The Social Democrats don't have a play here;
Because even with the Left and the Greens they are at 289 seats a far cry from the 355 needed.

The Greens have been out of government for more than a decade and its within their best interest not to force the CDU to have to work with the AfD as they have no other option to sit on the Government side of the aisle.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The math may be what you say, but it means cobbling together an agreement about power-sharing in the new coalition, that will be made up of Merkel's Christian Democrats, the Green, and another fairly left-ish party with, I believe, a special focus. Her coalition will be organized around the idea of marginalizing this electoral response to her abrupt and entirely personal decision to allow unlimited and open Moslem immigration into Germany!

What kind of policy stew will come out of that? I really have no idea, but it astounds me that Merkel survives a 20-25% shift in support thanks to the electoral system. Would it not be better if her party were sent to the showers for a term while a new gang took over and respond to the protest vote?

I say that because proportional representation is still not a dead idea amongst certain Canadian politicians, and the others don't really know what's wrong with it. This is what's wrong with it! You can't get rid of the people who messed things up!

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Greens are left, no question.
However the FDP regardless of how they are marketed on Wikipedia are certainly not.

The Free Democratic Party may be socially Liberals but Economically they are not;
I would argue they were likely the most pro-business party that was running in the election.

A Coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Free Democratic Party making up the bulk even with the Greens is still far more "conservative" than the previous coalition that had the socialists make up the second slot of the coalition.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the Free Democratic Party was the other anti-immigration party. This was from two weeks ago.

Germany's FDP party leader 'can't imagine' three-way coalition
Reuters Staff

Lindner told German magazine Focus in an interview published Friday that he saw big hurdles to reaching agreement with the Greens on immigration and energy policies, reducing the prospects for a so-called Jamaica coalition of the conservatives, Greens and the FDP.

“In the meantime, I can’t imagine a Jamaica coalition,” Lindner told the magazine.

Merkel’s conservatives were at 37 percent in the latest Infratest dimap poll, versus 21 percent for the Social Democrats (SPD), their lowest reading since early January.

The anti-immigration, euro-hostile AfD came in unchanged at 11 percent, making it the third-strongest political force, followed by the radical Left party with 10 percent and the FDP at 9 percent, while the Greens scored 8 percent.

It gets more and more interesting. Merkel is one of the bedrock figures of the EU and the central banking deals that are made. She is/was a vitally important figure going back more than a decade. She was so important in Germany, and Germany is so central in the EU, one wonders what will happen with her gone.

I never thought the 21st century was going to turn out like this.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Robson: Are an eighth of Germans now deplorables, beyond the pale?

The AfD wants citizens to be able to be proud of their past, names like Goethe and Beethoven. But of course you also think of names like Himmler and Goebbels

Guests at an Alternative for Germany party, AfD, election party react to the first projections in the German election on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Martin Schutt/dpa via AP

John Robson
John Robson

September 26, 2017
1:23 PM EDT

Oh no. The basket of deplorables got loose again. Not the U.S. President urging respect for his country’s anthem, of all racist pig-swine stands. Germany, where the “far right” “far-right” “far-right” “far-right” “far right” Alternative for Germany (I quote from one single New York Times story) won some Bundestag seats. World ends, film at 11.

The left-wing part of the centrist blob that has dominated German politics since the Second World War, the Social Democratic Party, promptly became the official opposition to keep the AfD (“Alternative für Deutschland”) from that role. The SDP leader clearly thinks his job is to fight the third party, not the governing Christian Democratic Union.

Now the usual seedy maneuvering starts over how the usual suspects retain power. Angela Merkel expects a deal by Christmas, probably with the Free Democrats, back in the Bundestag after being blanked in an awful 2013 showing, though just possibly also the Greens.

As a sideline, are we sure proportional representation works? Or does it deliver fragmentation and instability? Germany’s mixed-member PR system gave 246 of 630 seats to Merkel’s CDU (down from 311) and cut the SDP from 193 to 153, while the AfD vaulted from zero to 94, the Free Democrats from zero to 80, Die Linke went from 64-69 and the Greens from 63-67.

The establishment closed ranks intellectually as well as politically, declaring the AfD and by extension one in eight Germans who voted beyond the pale. Of course if you poke around for lunatic fringe associates you can find some haunting any large political party. Even the Liberal Party of Canada, let alone the NDP with its Occupy fringe. But it doesn’t make the Liberals or NDP extreme parties, especially not in the sense of being disreputable rather than simply wrong or wacky on some issues.

As far as I can tell, the rap on the AfD is that a few genuine neo-Nazis turn up at their events and a senior party member once said border guards should use deadly force to repel illegal migrants if necessary. Which you’d think is why they carry weapons, there as here.

Supporters of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party demonstrate against the German Chancellor and Christian Democrat (CDU) Angela Merkel at a CDU election campaign stop on September 22, 2017 in Heppenheim, Germany. Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

There was a nice column in the far-left New York Times by far-left columnist David Leonhardt about the Trump anthem ruckus. OK, neither is far left. I just like seeing it in print occasionally. (To Wikipedia’s credit, their 2017 German election article classified Die Linke, “The Left,” as “Left-wing to far left” and the AfD as “Right-wing to far-right.”)

After quoting his colleague Bret Stephens that “To disagree well you must first understand well,” Leonhardt warned readers not to assume a majority shares their view of NFL anthem protests. It would also be wise not to assume a majority of Germans share snobbish disdain for conservative/populist parties as afflicted with neo-Nazi rabies. Nor will it help to talk or act as if they did.

Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels in 1934. File

Of course the AfD has a problem that, while not exclusive to Germany, is especially pointed there. They want citizens to be able to be proud of their homeland, culture and past. Which is not unreasonable when you think of names like Goethe and Beethoven. But of course you also think of names like Himmler and Goebbels.

AfD co-founder Björn Höcke complained in a January 2017 speech about Berlin’s Holocaust memorial, saying “we Germans are the only people in the world who have planted a memorial of shame in the heart of their capital.” Well yes. Also the only people in the world whose insane dictator perpetrated the Holocaust, which goes a long way toward explaining the anomaly.

AfD top candidates Alexander Gauland, left, and Alice Weidel celebrate with their supporters during the election party of the nationalist ‘Alternative for Germany’, AfD, in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, after the polling stations for the German parliament elections had been closed. AP Photo/Michael Probst

Or does it? Outside the Anglosphere too much history is appalling, futile or both and even the English-speaking world had horrors like racial slavery. So when Germans repent the Holocaust it reflects their membership in the free-thinking self-critical West not their periodic attacks on it. A great many non-Western nations should erect memorials in their capitals to atrocities perpetrated in their names by their governments and do not, from Turkey to China.

So can Germans today say they reject EU rule, value Western civilization, and are proud of a culture that gave rise to environmentalism and brilliant music and literature, without forgetting that it also spawned psychotic militarism, and not be ridiculed as latter-day Hitlers? If you say no, you risk driving many people with legitimate concerns into the arms of genuine neo-Nazis. (As for election-night protestors chanting “All of Berlin, hate the AfD,” they, like Antifa, clarify that not all boastful haters are “far right.”)

Chancellor Merkel claims she will win back AfD voters “by solving problems, by taking up their worries, partly also their fears, but above all by good politics.” Possibly empty words. But it beats calling them ugly names and hoping they react by embracing you.

It’s sure not working elsewhere

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German Election , Merkel holds on but AFD wins seats

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