In the eastern part of Saxony and Brandenburg in eastern Germany, local elections were held on August 31. Although the far-right alternative party was not as expected, it won the position of the largest party; its votes also reached 21% and 27% respectively. Close to the CDU and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which have been in power for two years. Since the rise of the alternative party, the founding faction has adhered to the policy of “no contact, no negotiation, no compromise,” and hopes to isolate the party. It seems that such a strategy does have room for review.
Although the Alternative Party is not as expected by some observers, it has no doubt to be the biggest winner of this election. In Brandenburg, the Alternative Party followed 26.2% of the largest party Social Democratic Party with a 23.5% vote, and the CDU received only 15.6%. In Saxony, the Alternative Party received 27.5% support and only less than 5% of the CDU; the Social Democratic Party’s support rate was only 7.7%, ranking fifth. Compared with the last two state elections, voters supporting the far-right increased by 147% in Brandenburg and by 273% in Saxony.
The “three noes” of the establishment
All along, the German political formations represented by the CDU and the Social Democratic League have adopted a “three noes” policy for alternative parties. The first is not to contact, and the right-wing selection party to adopt “opposition” rather than communication attitude. After the alternative party began to take advantage of Merkel’s open refugee policy in 2015, mainstream parties and the media were accustomed to label the party with the Nazis, but the evidence cited was mostly a plausible statement that “the Germans cannot be proud of past history”. The party adhered to the “German cultural subjectivity” position and was also attacked by the founding party as racism.
The parties more unanimously demanded that the Federal Constitutional Security Agency, which is responsible for political censorship, monitor the alternative party, and further shaped the impression of the alternative party “victim.” The experience of the past few months shows that shaping the alternative party into the opposite of mainstream organization not only does not help to unite oneself, but instead causes the dissatisfied voters of the government to gather under the alternative party, and the tiger is not a dog.
The second “no” is not to negotiate. At all levels of government, the parties choose different parties to negotiate and form a cabinet. After the German election in 2017, the Social Democratic Party has forgotten the choice of the party to enter the government, and even shouted 10,000 times that “the different CDU cabinets” was left behind. But this time in Saxony, if the CDU does not “shake hands” with the alternative party, the only choice is the three members of the left-wing party, the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Liberal Democratic Party. The composition spectrum is extremely wide and the stability is extremely poor. The “four-party alliance” may break through the “persistence” of the CDU and the Social Democratic Party.
The third “no” is no compromise, and it will not change its position because of the rise of the ultra-right forces. In July 2018, the Christian Democratic Union’s sister party, the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) Chairman Horst Seehofer, had resigned with Merkel’s disagreement on refugee issues, and he even advocated a large number of refugees. The expulsion of Bavaria showed that the party had been dissatisfied with Merkel’s “intermediate liberal line.” However, in the election of the party leader at the end of the year, Karenbauer, who is close to Merkel, defeated Friedrich Merz with a slight advantage, and made many determinations to support the LDP’s hopes. Let go.
Don’t want to be replaced, you need to face up to the problem
Similar to the Italian Five-Star Movement and the French National Front, the Alternative Party has begun to adjust its course in pursuit of a larger political platform. Alice Weidel, who took over as leader of the party in 2017, is a Ph.D. in economics. He has worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and Allianz, trying to attract the hesitant right-wing business class. On the other hand, although there are many members in the party who choose to “sympathize with the Nazis” or maintain anti-Semitism, the Alternative Party has become more cautious in restricting members’ public relations in recent years. The position is radical and the party has openly incited racism in the past. The veteran Alexander Gauland also rarely made public appearances.
The opponent camp has continued to evolve, and the formation of the CDU and the Social Democratic Party has been quite slow, and the strategy has not been adjusted. In fact, the eastern part of Germany, which is widely supported by the Alternative Party, although the economic situation is not as good as that of the west, it is still a “superior student” compared with neighboring countries. For this reason, the German right-wing foundation is still weak and cannot be seized like the Austrian Liberal Party or the Italian five-star movement. However, the number of people who support the alternative party in this election has increased several times compared with four years ago. This growth rate is unmatched in European countries.
For Merkel and the CDU, it is impossible and not to identify with alternative parties; but understanding the alternative party supporters’ demands and responding is the “righteousness” of the state leaders. It is indeed radical to propose “rejecting Muslims”, but multiculturalism is not acceptable to all. The requirement to “suspend assistance to other countries in the EU” is somewhat impractical, but Germany does bear more EU membership than other member states. Financial responsibility; requiring “repatriation of all refugees” is not human, but the constitutional tightening of “emergency asylum” and reducing refugee input are indeed viable policy options.
But more importantly, when populists use xenophobia and conservative as solutions to German social problems, mainstream institutions should also put forward their own arguments and practice: how to solve the sluggish economy of slow development, how to eliminate immigration and local The contradictions of the residents, how to balance Germany’s efforts and benefits in the EU. If we do not respond to these questions, we will only regard “liberalism” and “European integration” as dogmatics. The populist fire will only burn more and more.