Growing fear of Muslim influx spurs dramatic tilt towards populists in German regional elections

elections map

France, Sweden, and now Germany, three of the nations most welcoming towards a historic influx of Muslim migrants starting last year, have all seen a rapid shift in public opinion the last few months, as citizens have been become increasingly anxious about the emerging landscape in their towns and cities.

Germany’s CDU chancellor Angela Merkel, having taken the decision single-handedly in recent years to admit over 1 million Muslim immigrants, took an unprecedented beating in three provincial elections this past weekend.

An overview of the election results noted that the AfD party (Alternative für Deutschland) made sizeable gains at the expense of Merkel’s CDU-CSU ruling coalition. The AfD, which began its life in 2013 as an anti-EU party, has in the last year become the gathering place for the anti-migration movement. Its origins and development are similar in many ways to Britain’s UKIP, France’s National Front, and the Sweden Democrats. These parties materialized from disparate, disaffected elements within the mainstream political organizations in their home countries, and although they are a populist mix of anti-EU feeling, all of these groups tend more to the right side than the left. AfD has been called “far right” by some (perhaps because we’re talking about Germany), but nothing yet appears to confirm they are particularly different from their cousin movements on the continent that have become frustrated with the European Union and its attendant problems of the Schengen Area and the Eurozone financial crisis.

Certainly, the AfD is successfully capitalizing on the massive angst experienced by many Germans after the New Year’s Eve sex attacks in Cologne and other, “lone wolf” terrorist attacks and crimes by Muslim migrants.

AfD election ad
AfD election ad (“Greater safety for our wives and daughters”).

An Overview of German Regional Elections
by Rembrandt Clancy

Considering its status as an upstart newcomer, the AfD did extremely well in Sunday’s elections in Saxony-Anhalt, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg. But the descriptor “extremely well” must be understood in the larger context of German politics. After being relentlessly demonized by the press and the leaders of all mainstream political parties, in the face of procedural obstacles and censorship on social media, the AfD still managed to a showing of 12%-24% in the polls. It’s a major change, but not enough to swing the German ship of state away from the iceberg it is rapidly bearing down on.

The legion of political parties is like an alphabet soup to most non-Germans, and I have not found much about the 13 March elections that convincingly deals with the real implications, if any. I say “if any” because the question is open as to whether the AfD’s gains are enough, especially since there appears to be so little time left.


If one examines the Landtag results for Baden-Württemberg for 2011, one notes that the CDU, the party with the largest single number of votes (39.0%), did not form the government; instead, the two Leftist minority parties formed the green-red coalition (Greens and SPD). This outcome may seem obvious to a German, but not to a Canadian, where a constellation like this leads to a minority government.

In Sunday’s election (Baden-Württemberg), the CDU lost more than 11% of its support compared with 2011, which according to Kopp Online is their worst showing since the ’50s. The voter turnout on 13 March 2016 was 5.7% higher than in 2011 according to Kopp Online, and a higher turnout was also measured for the elections in the other two states.


And just yesterday morning (14 March) there was the following news:

Prior to the Landtag elections, all Pegida administrators were suddenly blocked from Facebook. The movement judged this as an attempt at censorship and accordingly published a press release. The site continues as before.

The alternative news portal, MMnews, reported on 26 February that the Dresden Facebook presence, which has a 200,000 strong following, could be the object of future censorship. It has been learned, based on a “trusted source”, that Facebook, due to pressure at the level of the federal government, is to block or completely expunge sites like Pegida and their offshoots, according to the portal in an exclusive article. (Epoch Times)

The AfD now sits in eight state parliaments. In Baden-Württemberg the AfD reached 15.1 percent of the vote, just ahead of the SPD (12.7%); in the Rhineland Palatinate 12.6% and inSaxony-Anhalt the AfD achieved a remarkable 24.2%, the second-largest party in the Landtag next to the CDU, which reached 29.8%. Kopp Online makes the following summary comments:

Read the rest of the article here.

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