The Center-Right Held

7 June 2021

 

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Merkel's Party Wins Last Regional Vote Before Fall Election

 

The voters of the eastern German lander of Saxony-Anhalt voted over the week-end for a new local legislature. The outcome was not even close. Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union 37.1% of the vote while the far right Alternative fur Deutschland was second with 20.8% despite polls suggesting a closer race. The old communists rebranded as Die Linke (the Left) got 11.2%; the Social Democrats managed just 8.3%; the liberal Free Democrats got 6.4%; and the Greens scored 6.1%. This gave the CDU a boost going into the summer with the general election on September 26. One expects that Dr. Merkel will be handing over to another CDU leader.

The former lander that composed East Germany during the Cold War have been the main bases for Die Linke and the AfD. The political center of Germany is not what it once was. During the Cold War, the usual outcome of an election was a victory for either the CDU or the SDP with the FDP often as a junior coalition partner. Then, came the Greens in the 1980s, and after reunification, other parties emerged. Die Linke and the AfD are merely the most successful of the newcomers. When the far right and the former communists do well, one must question whether the center can hold.

"Today is a clear win for the Christian Democrats," said Volker Bouffier, the governor of the western state of Hesse and a senior member of the conservative party. "But the fight is still at the beginning, the fight for the democratic center."

Riener Haseloff, the premier of Saxony-Anhalt, took a similar view. "I am thankful that our image remains, we have a reputation of democracy here in Saxony-Anhalt that we upheld tonight," he said.

He was given a shock in the last lander election when the AfD emerged on the scene as a serious force, winning almost a quarter of the vote. To combat this swing to the hard right, he formed a coalition with the SDP and the Greens. He campaigned on a promise to build a wall between his CDU and the AfD. This is an inter-German wall of which this journal approves.

Looking ahead to the general election, this shoring up of the CDU vote in the east is significant. If the AfD had come in first in Saxony-Anhalt, the talk about have been whether the party would be able to make a transition to a post-Merkel future. Now, her chosen successor Armin Laschet, who is premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, should have a much happier launch to his campaign later in the summer.

What remains troubling is that the AfD still got one in five votes yesterday. Die Linke took another few points, suggesting that a quarter of the vote went to parties that are not that deeply committed to democratic government. The two extremist parties have less influence in the western lander, but they will still return representatives to the Bundestag.

None of the center parties would be willing to go into coalition with the AfD, and one would be surprised if the CDU brought Die Linke into a coalition. This means that the next German government is most likely going to be led by the CDU with its Bavarian Christian Social Unipon sister party. The SDP, FDP and/or Greens are probably going to be needed to get a working majority. Current polls suggest the extremists have support of about 18% of Germany as a whole.

The campaign will be crucial, and Germans are good Europeans in that they go away on holiday in July and August. In other words, September will be a very important month in German politics. As things stand, the CDU will retain the chancellor's office. Of course, the unforeseen and unforeseeable can make all these predictions void. When asked what worried him most, former British PM Harold MacMillan allegedly said "Events, my dear boy, events." As they should anyone making predictions about German elections this far out.

© Copyright 2021 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.



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