mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
German Elections
Merkel Gets a Thumping

The center is beginning to fray even in Germany, as the anti-immigrant AfD weakened Merkel’s CDU in regional elections this weekend. Politico:

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners both suffered defeats in Sunday’s regional elections in three German federal states, which were widely viewed as a quasi-referendum on the chancellor’s refugee policy.

According to an Infratest exit poll released by public broadcaster ARD, Merkel’s CDU garnered only around 27.5 percent of the votes in its former CDU stronghold of Baden-Württemberg, the third-largest of Germany’s 16 states. The conservatives were defeated by the  Greens, who took over the state in 2011 and now appear to have won at least 32 percent of the vote. […]

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the incumbent SPD was able to defeat the CDU, reaching a projected 37.5 percent, compared to around 32.5 percent for the CDU.

As expected, Merkel’s CDU was able to keep power in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, taking approximately 29 percent of the vote, according to exit polls.

In all three states, the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) managed to get into the parliament, becoming the second-strongest party in Saxony Anhalt with 23 percent of the votes, according to the ARD exit poll. AfD leader Frauke Petry said the result reflected “fundamental problems in Germany.”

The trend across much of the world today appears to be the decline of moderates and centrists and the rise of angry populism. This is more about the inability of mainstream leaders to rise to the more challenging circumstances of this moment in history: the decline of the postwar social model and the challenge of the revisionist powers to the post-1990 world order. Voters everywhere see the centrists, whether center right or center left, as failing to understand or deal with various manifestations of these underlying conditions, and so turn toward more radical or demagogic movements and voices—from Syriza and New Dawn in Greece to Podemos in Spain, the People’s Party in Slovakia, Afd in Germany, the National Front in France, and of course our own Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump here in the US of A.

Merkel has been one of the world’s most effective leaders in these difficult times, in part because, until the immigrant crisis overwhelmed her, she managed things more smoothly than others. But she stumbled badly over the influx of hundreds of thousands of desperate Middle Easterners into Germany, and is now paying the price at the polls.

Features Icon
show comments
  • WigWag

    “Voters everywhere see the centrists, whether center right or center left, as failing to understand or deal with various manifestations of these underlying conditions, and so turn toward more radical or demagogic movements and voices—from Syriza and New Dawn in Greece to Podemos in Spain, the People’s Party in Slovakia, Afd in Germany, the National Front in France, and of course our own Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump here in the US of A.” (Via Meadia)

    You must be kidding me. What’s radical is admitting millions of mostly economic migrants into your country despite the fact that they come from societies where consanguinious marraige, plural marraige, capital punishment for apostasy and female genital mutilation are all the norm. It’s Merkel and her crowd who are the radicals. When centrist politicians accuse regular people who are horrified by this of racism, it is those “centrist” politicians who are the demagogues.

    The elites in Europe and the United States have nothing but contempt for ordinary citizens, unless that is those ordinary citizens come from some racial, ethnic or religious group that those elites feel guilty about. For those groups with intense feelings of aggrievment, elites quickly descend into full self-hatred mode and grant them all the favors they desire and more. This is exactly what we see in Germany where German women are accused of inspiring sexual assault by Muslim immigrants and it’s exactly what we see in the United States where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fall all over themselves to endorse the views of hate groups like “Black Lives Matter.”

    These same elite groups are literally repulsed by working class American whites or working class German whites.

    Amongst the worst offenders in the elite class are the press and the punditocracy. Including the writers and editors of the American Interest. Is there any question that pundits like Walter Russell Mead, Adam Garfinkle and so many others literally find working class white people repellant?

    Of course they do. That’s why they’re happy to see politicians who advocate for the interests of these people described as “radicals” and “demagogues.”

    Note to the grand pohbahs at the American Interest; if you want to see a demagogue, look in the mirror.

    • Anthony

      The elites don’t care about working-class whites but BLM, Muslims, others initiate their affective emotions. Wow! Who are these all powerful amorphous elites so inclined to keep America divided along class, race, ethnic, religious, and social lines.

      It’s become quite fashionable (in some circles) to attack an amorphous elite as well as counterpose their acquiescence to interests of BLM, Muslims, etc. versus their lack (or even disdain) of responsiveness to working-class Caucasians. But to what American purpose is served by this misdirection – surreptitiously fomenting appeals to racial resentment and grievance while ostensibly castigating an elite class.

      Make no doubt about it, America’s institutions are straining – and white-working class socio-economic (recent object victims of laissez-faire capitalism) anxiety is real. But millions of Americans, blacks and Latinos in particular, have faced these same socio-economic anxieties (declining economic prospects, social disintegration, etc.); so in that regard if there is an “elite charge”, working Americans suffered indiscriminately. The elite/white -working class juxtaposition clouds. What’s underneath surface of charge – some perceived inversion perhaps.

      Indeed, struggling working-class whites have suffered keenly from the collapse of the industrial economy. But these forces have been in play for years (predating BLM, Islamophobia, etc.). More importantly, wages for working-class Americans have long been stagnant and the collapse of job opportunities for workers without a college degree was apparent in the 1990s long before the Recession of 2008. So, why now. What’s really going on.

      Are “elites” responsible for a brittle economy, an ailing white-working class, an insecure white middle-class, a rising nonwhite population, political gridlock, etc. Or is there truly more under the surface that cannot be honestly laid at the door step of an amorphous elite.

      • Angel Martin

        hey, when it comes to working class whites, some of the elite no longer bother to even fake it.

        • Anthony

          Too constrained.

      • WigWag

        You ask who these “elites” are; let me give you some examples. They’re the Republican donor class who live on Fifth Avenue, Central Park West, Rye, New York and Greenwich, CT. Their compensation is measured in the millions of dollars a year and sometimes more. They are single-handedly responsible for financing the presidential campaigns of GOP candidates going back at least 28 years. Mostly they earn their enormous fortunes running hedge funds, investment banks, commercial banks or other financial institutions. As a group, they are the enemy of working class white people. They support free trade agreements where they are the winners and working class people are the losers. When factories close up shop in the United States and move to Mexico or China, the funds they run see their valuations improve while the fortunes of the ordinary people who work in the newly closed factories are devastated. This same donor class loves immigrants, legal and illegal because of the downward pressure those immigrants place on the wages of workers already struggling to get by. Mitt Romney spoke eloquently for Republican elites when he bemoaned the 47 percent of Americans who he accused of being lazy good-for-nothing “takers.”

        Who else are those elites? They’re Democratic politicians (and their financial supporters on Wall Street and in Hollywood and Silicon Valley who fund their campaigns) who genuflect to blacks, Latinos, upper class white women, gay people, the transgendered and any other group so wrapped up in their own sense of grievance that they can’t see straight. The Democrats will pull out all of the stops to promote the interests of these groups. They will support affirmative action, they will advocate for amnesty for illegal immigrants, they will obsess about raising the minimum wage, they will do everything they can to enforce a stultifying ideology of political correctness which makes it impossible to have an honest discussion about race, gender or sexual orientation. They will take the side of black thugs over the police who are putting their lives on the line to protect poor, crime-ridden African American neighborhoods. President Obama perfectly represented Democratic elites when he insulted millions of working class people by complaining how they cling to their guns and their religion.

        Do you want more examples of the elites I’m talking about? You can include on the list the journalists and pundits who have so dumbed down our national dialog that it’s a stretch to even call it a dialog. This Via Meadia post provides the perfect example. Political parties and politicians who object to massive, uncontrolled immigration are castigated as “radical” and “demagogic,” while political parties that promote uncontrolled immigration are described as moderate and main-stream. It’s little wonder that reporters and pundits are servants of American elites. When Walter Russell Mead, Adam Garfinkle or their contemporaries in the pundit and think tank worlds go jetting from country to country to give speeches, engage in fact finding or attend foreign policy pow wows, who exactly do you think it is who is paying for their trips. Do you suppose they’re paying their own freight or do you think some organization funded by wealthy donors is underwriting their travel. They are surely loathe to admit it, but just like politicians are owned lock, stock and barrel by the elites who fund their campaigns, pundits who travel on someone else’s time or have their salaries underwritten by wealthy benefactors are owned lock, stock and barrel by those benefactors.

        And as long as we are mentioning the poisonous elites who are ruining our country, let’s not forget the professoriate who have turned American college campuses into hotbeds of politically correct nonsense that would be comic if it wasn’t so sad. Practically everyday students who attend the circuses we used to call college campuses shout down invited speakers with the ugliest, nastiest and most bigoted rhetoric. Accusing Donald Trump of fostering a climate of violence at his political rallies is absurd. The violence at his recent rally in Chicago wasn’t instigated by his supporters, it was instigated by college students and black lives matter bigots who learned how to foment violence and prevent speakers they dislike from speaking on their own campuses.

        So in answer to your question, Anthony, aren’t “amorphous” at all; they are easily identifiable. They include the donor class who support both political parties as well as journalists, pundits and professors. There are always exceptions, but as a class, these people are contemptible.

        You are absolutely correct to say that blacks and Latinos face many of the same challenges as working class whites; in fact, often their challenges are worse. Blacks not only have to deal with the same impediments that working class whites do, but they also have to confront racism which is still real and far too pervasive. But in America in the 21st century there is no group that experiences more bigotry than working class whites. We live in an age obsessed with the rights of identity groups. Our elites cowtow to all of these groups. Blacks are an identity group who have been represented by scores of organizations over the years from the NAACP to the Black Panthers to the National Urban League to the Nation of Islam, to Black Lives Matter. No one begrudges blacks the right to identify with these groups.
        Latinos represent another identity group with the same right. Just last week, Univision ran a Democratic debate. Organizations from La Raza to Aspira represent Latino Americans. The organizations representing gay Americans and transgendered Americans are too numerous to count.

        How do you explain the fact that one identity group after another is praised by our elites for organizing to protect their interests, but if working class whites do precisely the same thing by organizing to support the one political candidate who promises to fight for them, our bipartisan elites become apoplectic and the press and the pundits fall all over themselves criticizing these folks as bigoted, low information voters who are so repugnant that their concerns don’t matter.

        Here’s my thesis; the white working class is the single most despised group in America. Republican elites hate them; democratic elites hate them. The Wall Street Crowd hates them; so does the Hollywood crowd and the Silicon Valley crowd. Reporters hate them; pundits hate them. The editors of the Wall Street Journal hate them; the editors of the New York Times hate them. The editors of the National Review and the Weekly Standard hate them; the editors of the Nation and the Huffington Post hate them. Tom Friedman hates them and Walter Russell Mead hates them. Mitt Romney hates them; Barack Obama hate them. Civil Rights groups hate them; the Club for Growth hates them. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders hate them; Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio hate them.

        Donald Trump may or may not really be on their side but at least he says he’s on their side.

        That’s why the elites on both sides of the aisle want to destroy Trump. What’s his sin?

        He wants to fight for America’s new untouchables.

        • Anthony

          WigWag, let’s not conflate issues (I am sure you are familiar with “When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth Century America). Aforementioned is only for clarity not advocacy of racial bribes.

          Now, in your eight paragraphs you enumerate nothing that has not been charged/attributed before. And there is very little I find surprising or grasping. WigWag, you may support Trumpism and I have no argument there (we differ in our analysis). You may dislike various Americans and their conditions and culture (as you understand them) – there we may also differ. Yet, I have no disagreement there either. That said, nothing new has been introduced. What you have subjectively posed as an elite issue is in reality latest incarnation of American “Plutocracy”. In other words you have painstakingly revealed how the American political system works and for what purpose: what are the major forces shaping political life and how they operate, who gets what, when, how, and why, and who pays and in what ways. This goes beyond 28 years ago. Indeed, the only change WigWag is the social context – no assumed racial hierarchy (bribe) applies for some.

          Call it what you will and critique whom you must but you took a long way to say that Representative government has been a very serviceable form of governance for…even if often a troublesome (like now) one. Democracy WigWay Democracy, American style – warts and all.

        • wri

          Apparently WIgWag is a Trump supporter, which I definitely am not, but what he says contains much truth and clearly is not the raving of some ignorant, under-educated person supposedly susceptile to the entreaties of a demagogue. He has identified three factors — Crony-Capitlism, Special Interests and Political Self-Interest — that have corrupted our government, politics, economy, society and culture. As he says,, the blame can be widely distributed throughout society, including both political parties and all those who feed off the present system, including the media. I wish there were a way his thoughts could receive wide distribution.

          A word on the “working class whites.” He is right that they are outsiders, members of no favored group. They may be immigrants or, more likely, descendants of earlier immigrants who themselves experienced initial prejudice and discrimination, but though hard work and persistence moved their families into the middle classes. They played by the rules and believed in the American Dream. Over the past several decades they have seen their economic position deteriorate — fewer jobs and poorer paying jobs. That would be difficult in itself, but would something they broadly share with other American workers, regardless of race or origin. Whai is different for them is that, not only have they become marginalized from other middle class workers who are a part of minority or other favored groups, they have become the scapegoat for the problems of these other groups. They are supposed beneficiaries of “white privilege,” although this is nowhere evident in their economic or social circumstances. And they are identified as the primary cause of the supposed endemic American ” racism” that is holding other groups back, nothwithstanding that they and their families have made a conscientious effort to deal with race issues, including accepting the consequences of living in a society where group identity gives privileges and special treatment to other races and groups.

          We should step back and make an effort to see things from their perspective. If you look a middle class white person and presumptively see an ignorant bigot, as do many lberals and elite whites, and as blacks are told they should view whites, then you will see someone who fits the image projected by today’s media. And you will readily dismiss them as unworthy of your consideration. If you were a white person of modest means, who thought you were a reasonably intelligent and decent person, how would you react to this depiction? How would you feel about the accompanying assumption that you not only a main cause of others’ problems, but should bear the burden of solving these problems? If you are human, you likely get angry, maybe very angry. If you are looking for the causes of Trump’s unexpected support, maybe you should reflect on the plight of these people as economically strugglng scapegoats. Yes, with Trump they have not chosen well in finding someone through whom to express their anger. But that does not mean their anger is not real, justified, and deserving of understanding by others.

      • Boritz

        “recent object victims of laissez-faire capitalism”

        A bit like saying recent victims of saber tooth tigers.

        • Anthony

          The danger can be equally life changing.

          • Jim__L

            I think you missed the point about laissez-faire capitalism being in the recycling bin of history, much like saber-tooth tigers are extinct.

          • Anthony

            A common cognitive distortion: Mind Reading. See Noah Smith (Jun, 2015), “Is Laissez-Faire Economics Dead?”

          • Jim__L

            An alternative approach:
            1) Look up “laissez-faire” in the dictionary.

            2) Observe the realities of governments and the private sector worldwide.

            With whatever respect is due Mr. Noah Smith, I think that the above approach is sufficient.

          • Anthony
          • Fred

            Of course, if you expressed your mind clearly, no one would have to try to read it. But then clear expression doesn’t obscure BS as well as obfuscation, does it?

          • Anthony

            Orthodoxy Chapter 5, Oct. 23, 2014 reply, and six years and counting of internet harassment.

          • Boritz
          • Anthony

            Non sequitur.

  • Pete

    “The trend across much of the world today appears to be the decline of moderates and centrists and the rise of angry populism.”

    No, the trend is a return of sanity after being lost in the fairyland of multiculturalism and suicidal political correctness.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    This isn’t about Racism, and calling people racists when they know they aren’t racists just angers them. It’s about the “National Inheritance” that is every natural born citizen’s private property. Demanding that they share their property with aliens, is Government enforced “Theft”. Just because aliens don’t care for the puny national inheritance they got from their forefathers, doesn’t entitle them to come and steal the awesome national inheritances of the citizens of western cultures. Germany for Germans, America for Americans, what’s so hard to understand about that? We don’t OWE the peoples of other nations and cultures anything. We certainly don’t owe them a share of our national inheritance, which we received from our ancestors, and which we expect to improve upon before we pass it on to our children.

    • Jim__L

      The irony here is the most important parts of our national legacy are the intellectual assets the Left has been dismantling since the 60’s. (Or for the Marxists, longer than that.)

  • Herzog

    Merkel wasn’t “overwhelmed” by the “migrant” crisis, she gladly seized it to burden her despised ordinary Germans with skill-less and aggressive invaders. She gladly became the arm of the culturally dominant leftist and globalist elite, to whose world view she apparently has come around in the past years. Now she has dug in and consistently refused to backpedal even in the slightest, despite having had numerous chances to do so since the situation arose. In the course of doing so, she has not only alienated many Germans (I used to be a member of her party and respect her highly), but also cost Germany a lot of good will with most of our neighbors. The lady, who before had considerable merits, has become an outright desaster. Therefore: “Merkel muss weg!”

    But the greatest loser in the state elections is not even her CDU party, but the SPD (“Social Democrats”) of Willy Brandt fame, Merkel’s junior partner in the “Grand Coalition” ruling at the federal level. In two of the states the SPD got completely pummeled, losing about ten percentage almost points, thus almost half their previous share (which already was abysmal compared to the 30 to 40 per cent they were used to scoring just ten, twelve years ago). In those two states the SPD is are now down to about twelve per cent — less, in both cases, than the newcomer AfD (!). Only in the third voting state did the SPD manage to retain its vote share of about 35 per cent, due to an apparently — and enigmatically, to me — very popular lady governor.

    Also, turnout soared in these elections, from about 55 per cent last time around to 65 per cent, accounting for a substantial part of the AfD surge. The turnout phenomenon is not so unlike the one generated by Trump.

  • Quality Control

    This is one of the least informed posts I have read on TAI.

    To group the German AfD with ‘Golden Dawn’ is just slanderous. (For a meaningful – but necessarily imprecise – comparison to parties, familiar to an US audience, UKIP and the ‘Sweden Democrats’ come to mind.)

    Also calling Merkel an “effective” leader leaves the German reader headscratching. Effective in achieving what?

    Beside Reelection? Previous to the current immigration disaster, did she shine during the Euro-Crisis? Energy policy (regularly mocked on TAI)? The Iran nuclear deal? Not to mention the big issues like entitlement reform, which she completely ignored.

    The author seems to confuse the German population’s cultural disinclination ‘to rocking the (political) boat’ – demonstrated by the length of the reign of our chancellors – for confidence in Merkel’s stewardship.

    He could not be more wrong. The German voter is (or possibly was) simply without an alternative.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service