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The European Immigration Crisis
Two Out of Three Germans Want Merkel Replaced

So far, the political repercussions of the European immigration crisis seem to have hit everyone except Angela Merkel. The Austrian government has fallen, extremist parties have overtaken mainstream ones—but the woman whom many regard as the primary author of Europe’s unpopular policies has so far sat relatively unchallenged. (Germany’s far-right party, the AfD, is “up,” but only in German terms; other nations wish their far-right parties were only polling at  about 15 percent.) However, this long period of political dominance may now be drawing to a close.

Three sudden developments in the last few days suggest that the Chancellor is in greater jeopardy than any time since the beginning of the crisis. First, the polls are turning sour. As the Times of London reports:

Two thirds of Germans want Angela Merkel out at the next election, according to a poll showing the impact of the migrant crisis on her once unassailable popularity.

Sixty-four per cent of German voters hope that she will not get a fourth term in office next year, compared with 48 per cent who wanted her ousted in a similar poll in November.

The chancellor’s approval ratings tumbled after an influx of 1.1 million migrants into Germany last year. Mrs Merkel, 61, who came to power in 2005, still enjoys widespread respect but the polling by INSA for Cicero magazine suggests that Germans have had enough of her leadership.

Second, a long-running disagreement on the German center-right over refugee policy appear to be turning into a big political split:

Peter Tauber, the General Secretary of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party, has said that it would “not be bad,” if the CDU and its Bavarian sister-party, the CSU, presented separate manifestoes at next year’s national elections. His comments come in the wake of months of tension within the CDU/CSU union as a consequence of the migration crisis. Separately, 15 leading members of Merkel’s CDU have signed a manifesto calling for an “unsparing, honest and critical self-analysis” of the party in the wake of electoral losses to the right-wing AfD in regional elections in March.

Reports suggest that the CSU may choose to campaign separately from the CDU in forthcoming elections as a result. If so, this would be a significant rupture—one that would normally deeply endanger the leader of the CDU.

The problem is, as the Times notes, that there isn’t a clear-cut alternative to Merkel. She dominates the CDU-CSU, where other potential leaders are seen as either too old, too young, or simply not up to the Chancellorship. And what would normally be the main opposition, the Social Democratic Party, has been a member of Merkel’s Grand Coalition, with its leader, Sigmar Gabriel, showing little sign of wanting to bring down the house over an issue where his party may be even further to the left of the country as a whole than Merkel. But Merkel and the right have been in power for a long time, and Gabriel’s lefty troops are getting restless:

Sigmar Gabriel, dogged by ill health and forced to quash rumors he will quit, is under unprecedented pressure but moving left would ratchet up tensions within Germany’s ruling coalition where the SPD is junior partner to Merkel’s conservatives.[..]

At a party event this week, union official Susanne Neumann accused Gabriel – who is vice-chancellor and economy minister – of ignoring the problems of ordinary Germans struggling to find secure work and earn a decent wage. She made short shrift of his case that it was the fault of Merkel’s conservatives.

“So why do you stay with the conservatives?” asked Neumann to loud cheers and applause from the audience.[..]

Neumann’s solution, to ditch the grand coalition, has drawn support. It spurred Matthias Miersch, head of leftist lawmakers in the SPD, to warn in Bild daily that the Austrian experience showed the results of a ‘grand coalition’ becoming the norm.

“We must get out of the grand coalition after the next parliamentary election – that is clear,” Miersch told Bild.

There’s still nobody out there who can take on Merkel directly—yet. But the chances of such a thing happening soon are now higher than they’ve been in some time; a political storm seems to be gathering in the most powerful nation in Europe.

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  • Jim__L

    Dust off your Toynbee again.

    Merkel, and quite possibly her entire ruling philosophy, is incapable of answering the biggest challenges of her day — how to revitalize the German culture and population in a positive and constructive way, without turning to destructive ’30s and ’40s-era tactics.

    This is probably because the current ruling philosophy has a blind spot where Motherhood is concerned. It has yet to be demonstrated that a culture can survive without honoring Motherhood as a calling greater than (or even equal to) any other calling a woman can pursue.

    Current trans-Atlantic culture, of which Merkel is a part, holds Motherhood in disrepute, if not contempt; this is probably suicidal on a societal scale.

    This is currently being demonstrated in most countries in the West.

    • dwk67

      Handing over Germany to the Muslims will surely one day see the implementation of Sharia law. That way, all those liberal women who aspire to positions of power and prestige at the expense of family today, will have to lower their horizons to being a junior partner in running their own household. They may not hold motherhood in high esteem right now, but eventually it’ll be all they have left. Western civilization has largely emasculated itself, which, to the male-dominated Islamic culture, looks ripe for the picking as a result…

    • Andrew Allison

      I agree that birthrates are an enormous problem for developed nations, and not just in the West (c.f. Japan). However, the fact that the phenomenon is so widespread suggests that it may be actually be a result of development. I’d like to offer a couple of ideas: women are better educated, and there’s a clear inverse relationship between education and fecundity; economic and social independence, which give women more control over their bodies; and the cost of social democracy, which increases taxes so much that people can’t afford children.

      • Jim__L

        No, it’s just what the culture values. There’s no reason an educated woman can’t be a mom.

        The socialist part I’ll grant you — as it keeps finding constituencies other than families whose interests to boost above families. That’s definitely part of the problem, but again, that’s cultural values.

        • Andrew Allison

          Sorry, but there are lots of reasons why an educated woman might defer or even avoid motherhood, primarily an understanding of the costs. There are lots of studies regarding the inverse relationship to which I referred. I suspect that it’s not cultural values but selfishness that’s the issue. I’d also suggest that there’s lots of empirical evidence to support my hypothesis in the fecundity of those who, in effect, are paid by the state to have babies.

          • Jim__L

            Cultures can be more or less accepting of selfishness, important types of selfishness in particular.

            Most of the women I’ve met are *extremely* sensitive to these cultural pressures. Culture is the problem, culture can be the solution.

          • Andrew Allison

            FWIW: The phenomenon appears to be pretty universal among OECD countries, two notable exceptions being Israel and Turkey. Interestingly, the US Hispanic fertility rate fell 25% between 2006 and 2013 and is almost certainly below the replacement rate today.

  • Boritz

    TAI suggested the advent of super delegates to save the Republicans from Trump (by denying him the nomination irrespective of pesky vote counts).  Looks like Merkel needs some of those super dels of her own. She should meet with either Hillary or Vladimir to go over the mechanics of how it’s done.  That will give her at least two viable models of the super delegation she requires.

  • Pete

    Two out of three Germans Merkel replaced.

    Are the other third mentally ill? Or are those ‘Germans’ muslims?

  • CapitalHawk

    Dear TAI,

    You continue to refer to Alternative for Germany as a “far-right” political party. What defines a “far-right” political party in your mind? Anything to the right of Obama? Anything to the right of Hillary Clinton? Anything to the right of Chomsky? Or is it just being in favor of reduced immigration that gets you branded as “far-right”?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

    • Andrew Allison

      Anything to the right of center-right is far right to TAI. Its distaste for anything out of the establishment mainstream is evident in the contempt with which Trump is viewed, the voters be damned.

      • Tom

        I’d go for that, except TAI seems to hold Clinton in contempt as well, Robert Kaplan’s whining notwithstanding.

        • Jim__L

          I think that dissatisfaction with our choices in 2016 is not an unreasonable position to hold.

  • Andrew Allison
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