NewsEuropeWhat is in store for German politics with the rise of the...

    What is in store for German politics with the rise of the extreme right?

    For the first time, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won an election, breaking a taboo in Germany and sparking strong debate. Our correspondent in Berlin, Thomas Sparrow, explains the reasons behind the triumph of this political group and what it represents for the largest economy in Europe.

    Until last Sunday, only few in Germany knew about the Sonneberg district, one of the smallest in the country with just 57,000 inhabitants.

    But there, in eastern Germany, a taboo that everyone has been talking about since then was broken: the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won an election for the first time, ten years after it was founded.

    Its candidate, Robert Sesselmann, prevailed in the communal elections, defeating the outgoing president Jurgen Köpper, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU for its acronym in German), with 52.8% of the votes, who also had the support of of the main parties in Germany.

    It is a result that carries a symbolic weight that goes beyond Sonneberg’s local policies, since for the first time in the nation the other parties failed jointly to obtain an electoral majority to stop the AfD.

    Thus, the so-called ‘sanitary cordon’ or ‘democratic cordon’ was broken, an intrinsic agreement that the traditional parties in Europe have defended to prevent the growth of the ultra-right and in the midst of what some experts describe as a “shock for German democracy”. ”.

    “The AfD alone could eventually seize power in some parts of Germany”

    For the AfD, for its part, it is an important victory at a time when it has risen in national opinion polls, thanks in part to German discontent with the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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    “The district election in Sonneberg shows that everyone against one no longer works,” the party highlighted after its victory.

    “In a certain sense, this marks a before and after for Germany,” explains Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Professor at the Diego Portales University in Santiago de Chile, to France 24.

    “It is showing that the AfD alone could eventually seize power in some parts of Germany, especially in the eastern part,” adds Rovira, who studies the impact of populism internationally.

    What impact does the AfD victory in Sonneberg have?

    The AfD is particularly popular precisely in the east, where it has around 25% approval.

    Regional elections are held next year in several eastern German states and the AfD may become the strongest party, dealing a much heavier blow to the political establishment than the defeat at Sonneberg.

    But it is also in the east that the AfD tends to be more radical. In fact, the German domestic intelligence agency considers the AfD in Thuringia, where the Sonneberg district is located, to be a confirmed right-wing extremist organization.

    These positions help to understand why the other political movements have repeatedly rejected any kind of cooperation with the AfD, considering them to be a danger to democracy.

    However, the question that arises after the victory in Sonneberg and the high levels of favorability of the AfD is whether the other parties will begin to soften this rejection, more out of necessity and pragmatism than out of political alignment with the AfD.

    Analyst Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser explains that this debate is taking place particularly within the CDU, a traditional right-wing party that is one of the most important political actors in Germany. At the national level, the CDU is currently in opposition after having ruled for 16 years under former Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    “To this day they are still very closed, but those voices are going to start losing ground because there are going to be actors who are going to say that it is really convenient to try to form a coalition with the AfD because it is the only way to govern” Rovira underlines.

    “The time has come to dedicate ourselves to fact-based politics”

    The leader of the CDU, Friedrich Merz, assured earlier this month that as long as he is in charge of the party there will be “no cooperation of any kind” with the AfD, which he described as “xenophobic and anti-Semitic”.

    But at the same time other voices within the CDU are also being heard. In a tweet that was published and later deleted, the CDU youth in Sonneberg not only congratulated the winning candidate, but also seemed to suggest a softer view of the AfD.

    “The time has come to put aside electoral ideology and rhetoric and dedicate ourselves to fact-based politics for our county,” they wrote in a position they later distanced themselves from along with other CDU members.

    Thus, while the AfD celebrates, the other parties debate internally and blame each other for the result.

    The risk for them is that this, in itself, could further help the AfD, which has benefited in recent months from inter-party bickering.

    Rovira Kaltwasser explains that parties like the AfD capitalize on times when the political debate is “bogged down”. And if something seems clear, it is that the political debate in Germany is bogged down.

    Hence, Rovira adds that “the most important antidote is that the parties can govern and be able to establish effective public policies without so much conflict between them.”

    The extreme right returns to the charge in Germany, largely fueled by political and social discontent with the current authorities. An eventual brake or, conversely, a greater rise of the ultra-right will depend on the capacity shown by the political aspects far from extremism to respond to the voters.

    Source: France 24

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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