Fury and the AfD: Inside the Revolt against Angela Merkel

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Melanie Amann, Matthias Bartsch, Sven Becker, Markus Feldenkirchen, Jan Fleischhauer, Ralf Neukirch, René Pfister, Josef Saller and Katja Thimm, March 21, 2016 (Photo Gallery).

The success of the right-wing populist party AfD in recent state elections has shaken Germany. It is the expression of growing hatred of the elite among an expanding share of the population. Much of their anger is directed at Angela Merkel … //

… A Revolt against Merkel: … //
… The Depth of Alienation: … //
… Building Dissatisfaction: … //
… Horror and Resignation: … //
… A Marionette: … //
… Stake Its Claim to the Center: … //
… Contempt for the Morons: … //
… Gender Insanity and Other Meaningless Issues: … //
… Persecution Complex: … //
… Worries over Outward Appearances: … //
… Leveling the Playing Field: … //

… Germany Has Gotten Out of Control:

  • For Toller, the decision to support the new party was not a protest vote; she says she voted for AfD out of conviction. At the polling booth, she even took a photo of her ballot in order to preserve the moment. When asked to explain her reasons, she mentions the sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, street crime and the many refugees. Germany has “gotten out of control,” says Toller. Sure, Toller says, she also finds some of AfD’s demands to be extreme, like the recent call by party chief Frauke Petry for refugees to be shot at the border if they try to cross into Germany. “But at some point, you have to get things under control.”
  • Toller says she’s worried about the refugee problem and that no one is tackling it. “I have the feeling that AfD are the only ones doing anything.” She says she’s not a racist. She does, however, think there are a number of reasons the refugees shouldn’t be coming to Germany.
  • But the fact that Toller’s worries aren’t finding ready ears in Angela Merkel’s Chancellery or, in any case, that they aren’t leading to a change in policy, also doesn’t mean that the rest of the Christian Democrats are reacting nonchalantly to AfD’s gains. Calls are growing ever-louder for action to counter the new movement. When the national parliamentary group of the CDU and CSU met last Tuesday to discuss the election results, the mood wasn’t as sanguine as it had been the day before at a meeting of the CDU’s national executive committee. Members of parliament spent three hours discussing the results. Domestic affairs policy spokesman Hans-Peter Uhl called for Germany to finally impose a tighter border-control regiment the way other European countries had. He said he could no longer bear listening to the constant admonitions for closing party ranks. “It’s also a closing of ranks when the lemmings run to the cliff,” he quipped.
  • Gerda Hasselfeldt, the head of the CSU parliament group in Berlin, pleaded with Merkel to send out the message that Germany could no longer take in any more refugees. Heike Brehmer, a federal parliamentarian from Saxony-Anhalt, spoke of the anger felt by people in her state — people who believe there is no money available for them but there is plenty for the refugees. She says that’s why they voted for AfD.
  • None of this has made Merkel budge. Instead she points out that the number of refugees has fallen. But all it took was the next sentence for her to trigger new anger. When asked if this was the result of the closure of the Balkan Route or the patrols of the Aegean Sea ordered by NATO, she said, “that remains to be seen.” Mumbling quickly erupted in the room. Many members of parliament consider the closure of the borders that Merkel has criticized so heavily to be the only effective measure taken so far in the refugee crisis.
  • There is currently nobody in the CDU who is actively organizing opposition to Merkel, so all eyes at the moment are on Horst Seehofer. The CSU party boss is continually escalating the dispute with Merkel. Last Monday, he spoke of the “massive failure” of her refugee policies. In an interview given shortly after, he opened up the possibility that his party, currently only in Bavaria, might spread to the national level. He also reiterated his long-running threat to sue the federal government at the Constitutional Court over its refugee policies.

Can the Center Hold?

  • As is true for many AfD supporters, for Seehofer the bigger picture has only marginally to do with the refugees. The actual conflict is more fundamental. Merkel has steered her CDU so far towards the center that she has opened up the space needed for a new right-wing to take root. Members of Seehofer’s CSU have been observing that trend for years with concern, but now it is emerging as a real existential threat. The CSU’s lifeblood is its aura of uniqueness. If AfD robs the party of its current absolute majority in Bavaria, complains former German interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, then all that will be left of his party is a “CDU in lederhosen.”
  • That’s what makes this fight so inexorable for Seehofer’s people; it’s a question of them or us, Merkel or the CSU. The Bavarians have had to watch in horror as their CDU colleagues in neighboring Baden-Württemberg seek to become the junior partner to the Greens in a government there. One top CSU official in Berlin says this will only serve to reinforce the view among AfD voters that everything is blurring into one big homogenous political mass. Within AfD circles, the other parties are already disparaged as the “bloc parties.”
  • The big question now is whether AfD’s victory march will continue and whether it can establish itself within Germany’s political structures. Or if it will remain a temporary political phenomenon that will disappear again as soon as the refugee crisis ends.
  • Merkel is hoping for the latter. From her perspective, the cleaning out of the CDU sock drawer has been a success. She has fragmented the left side of Germany’s political spectrum so successfully that she was able to push the CDU even further into the center, at least temporarily. In doing so, she gained more voters. But what is good for Merkel is not necessarily good for the CDU.
  • A vital part of any healthy democracy is having alternatives and parties that are distinguishable from each other. At the moment, it’s no longer possible to tell what it is that separates the CDU from the SPD or the Greens. The party is whatever Merkel says it is. There are close to no correctives left in Germany and there is no longer a balance of power. The more Merkel tries to peddle her policies as being without alternative, the greater the anger within the populace will grow.
  • In any case, no one should assume following their success in the state elections that AfD and its supporters will drop their fight against “the-powers-that-be” any time soon. As absurd and presumptuous as it may seem, AfD supporters in recent days have been posting images on Facebook and Twitter of Sophie Scholl’s White Rose student resistance movement along with the caption, “Today they would have been with AfD.”
  • Scholl risked her life in February 1943 distributing flyers, and was executed a short time later. She had been fighting against the Nazi regime.

(full long text).


Last Chance, Amigo? You Can Never Be Too Late in Havana, on Spiegel Online International, by Jochen-Martin Gutsch In Havana, March 21, 2016 (Photo Gallery): The pope has been there, Obama is there this week and the Rolling Stones are arriving soon. Everyone wants a chance to see Socialism one last time before it dies. But what is it like to visit Cuba for a former citizen of East Germany? …;

Risse im Fundament der ökosozialen Marktwirtschaft – Prof. Dr. Dirk Löhr, 84.06 min, von AStAd erJLU … Vortrag an den ökosozialen Hochschultagen;
(auf de.wikipedia:
Justus-Liebig-Universität JLU Gießen (JLU) ist mit über 28.000 Immatrikulierten die zweitgrößte hessische Hochschule. Die Universität in Gießen wurde 1607 von Landgraf Ludwig V. von Hessen-Darmstadt gegründet und hieß bis 1945 nach ihrem Gründer Ludwigs-Universität (latinisiert Ludoviciana)[3] . Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg bestand sie zunächst als Hochschule für Bodenkultur und Veterinärmedizin weiter …;
Dirk Löhr (* 7. Oktober 1964 in Essen)[1] ist ein deutscher Wirtschaftswissenschaftler. Löhr ist Professor für Steuerlehre und Ökologische Ökonomik an der Hochschule Trier, Umwelt-Campus Birkenfeld. Als Privatdozent war er zudem an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum tätig (Verzicht 2013) …);

A Side-by-Side Look at Prison Life in France and Madagascar [4 VIDEOS], on Global Voices.org, written by Rakotomalala, translated by Maggie Cregan, March 20, 2016;
(related: Madagascar, retour sur le programme prison [VIDEO, PHOTOS], dans le blog de Virginie de Galzain, Photojournaliste, non daté: des espaces surpeuplés datant le plus souvent de la colonisation, des odeurs d’urine qui vous prennent à la gorge et vous imprègnent à peine la porte des “dortoirs” franchie, la menace récurrente de la peste en raison d’une forte présence de rats et de puces, un nombre important de décès faute d’alimentation suffisante et de soins, des droits humains non respectés… Telle est la situation insupportable des prisons de Madagascar et de nombreux pays du monde. Même si de nombreuses ONG et associations comme Médecins du Monde œuvrent pour l’amélioration des conditions sanitaires, juridiques et humaines, la tâche est titanesque …);

Impôts: catastrophes à la source, dans Contrepoints/Edito, le 18 mars 2016;

Opinion: America’s growing divide between work and wealth, on KESQ, by Maureen Conway, March 18, 2016;

Et si Draghi de la BCE vous donnait directement de l’argent? L’idée qui fait son chemin, dans Objectif Eco, par Charles Sannat, le 18 mars, 2016;

CANADA: Cornies – flipping convention on its head, on IfPress, by Larry Cornies, March 18, 2016;

Un capitalisme rentier qui n’assume plus d’être employeur – Bernard Friot, dans l’Humanité, par Olivier Morin, le 18 mars 2016;

Suisse: L’entrepreneur qui a lancé l’initiative pour un revenu de base inconditionnel, dans Le Temps.ch, par Céline Zünd, le 18 mars 2016: Daniel Häni a décidé il y a quatre ans de poser cette question à tous les Suisses: Que feriez-vous si vous n’aviez pas besoin d’assurer votre existence?

Kazakhstan bans use of smartphones in govt offices to stop leaks – leaked memo, on RT, March 17, 2016;

The Finnish model of welfare for the digital age, on Financial Times FT, by Elina Lepomäki MP, March 17, 2016;

Green Party MEP for the South West of England responds to the Budget, on Blackmorevale.co.uk, March 17, 2016;

Alaska’s annual dividend adds up for residents, on Marketplace.org, by Rachel Waldholz, March 16, 2016;

… zur Erinnerung:

… and this:

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