Germany Inches Further Towards Political Crisis Following EU Elections

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ER Editor: Smart, invaluable analysis from eugyppius, as ever. We’re wondering about Scholz here as it’s not clear if his govt. is going to cave in to pressure after the poor EU election results on Sunday. A reminder that Scholz is in a ‘traffic light’ coalition of his own social democrats, Greens and liberal FDP, which barely made 30% combined. Right-wing parties (see chart below) are CDU, CSU and AfD.  

[German voters] are divided about which flavour of “the right” they prefer

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EU Parliamentary Elections: Belgian Prime Minister Resigns, Emanuel Macron Dissolves the National Assembly in France and Germany Inches Further Towards Political Crisis

The results of the European parliamentary elections are in.

As expected, they represent a repudiation of the centre-left politics that have governed Europe for the past generation.

The dominant Christian Democrats of the European People’s Party (EPP), the right-leaning “soft” Eurosceptics of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the nationalists of Identity and Democracy (ID) all added seats. The big losers, meanwhile, were not only the liberal centrists of Renew but also – and above all – the Greens.

It is too early to say what this will mean for the future direction of the EU, except in very broad terms. As Green influence over the EU wanes, there will be less political capital to spend on climate insanity. The EPP, who have been terrible collaborators in abominations like the Green Deal, will probably be forced to seek more support from the parties to their right instead. There may be some shift in momentum, but I am pessimistic that we will see any great change from this election alone. The EU is by design well-insulated from the popular will, and the great centre-right villain of the past decades, the EPP, has only grown in strength.

But that is less than half the story. The EU parliamentary elections are not only about the EU; they are also an informal referendum on national politics, and here the seemingly minor shifts in party representation have had astounding consequences. In France, the National Rally party of Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella bested Manuel Macron’s Renaissance party by 31.4 percent to 14.6 percent. In response, Macron has announced new elections and dissolved the National Assembly. In Belgium, where they hold elections for national and regional parliaments alongside the European election, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has resigned in the face of strong gains by the New Flemish Alliance and Vlaams Belang.

We will not get new elections in Germany, but what is happening here is no less dramatic. The three parties of the coalition government barely cracked 30% in Sunday’s vote, with the social democrats posting their worst results in history, and the Greens down a full 8.6 percentage points compared to their 2019 showing. It is a stinging repudiation of the traffic light coalition. Alternative für Deutschland, despite an endless string of media smears and manufactured scandals, came in at 15.9%, the second-strongest party in the Federal Republic behind the centre-right CDU – and by far the strongest party in the East.

Graphic from Alpine Pravda: 2024 EU parliamentary election results for Germany by party (top bars), compared to 2019 (lower, faded bars). The Greens are by far the biggest losers, ceding a full 8.6 percentage points in just five years.

There are four points to make about these elections and their significance for Germany:

1. The Scholz Government has been Humiliated

As the election results rolled in and Macron announced new elections, the German Chancellor maintained a deafening silence. It took him a full day to acknowledge the defeat.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz first commented on his party’s performance on Monday evening. … “The election result were bad for all three governing parties,” he said.

“No one is well advised to simply go back to business as usual,” said Scholz. “At the same time, however, it is also important that we do our work to ensure that our country becomes modern and moves forward.”

Wolfram Weimer sums it up as follows:

With this European election, voters have … issued the coalition government a death certificate. For months, the polls have shown that this government is the most unpopular in history … Now the Germans have dramatically deprived their leaders of legitimacy. Any normal government would draw the consequences and signal to the population: “We have understood.” … In France, President Emmanuel Macron is demonstrating in a particularly consistent way what this can mean with his decision to call a new election.

Scholz does not appear to have this courage. In fact, the Chancellor is apparently planning the opposite. Despite the result, which has been dubbed a ‘debacle’, a ‘lesson’ or a ‘disaster’, he appears unimpressed … In plain language: the Chancellor will not take responsibility, and he hopes to muddle through and sit out the crisis.

Whether he can do that is far from certain. His junior coalition partner, the liberal FDP, will use the election results as a reason to increase their intransigence in the ongoing budget negotiations for 2025. Being in government has been a disaster for the liberals, and they face a serious chance of disappearing from the German Bundestag entirely in next year’s elections as they continue to bleed voters. Thus, as Weimer writes, “the budget dispute represents for them an opportunity for heroic resistance and even a last-ditch way out of the coalition.” It may be in the interests of the FDP to bring down the government rather than continue to associate themselves with this catastrophe.

Weimer further notes that the SPD have lost 40% of their voters between 2021 and today, and that in the coming elections in Brandenburg, Thüringen and Saxony they will be humiliated yet again. It is not beyond question, for example, that the SPD will fail to meet the 5% threshold and disappear from one or more eastern state parliaments entirely. The internal pressure on Scholz is only growing, in other words, and nothing would be more in keeping with the history of the social democrats than for his own party to bring him down before the voters get their chance.

2. The Greens are in Crisis

Above all it is the youngest voters who are leaving the Greens. Among those 24 years old and younger, 34% voted either for the CDU or the AfD. This is a stinging rebuke for a party that has presented itself as a youth movement and as the way of the future. The problem is both that climate politics are losing their salience for much of the electorate, and that the Greens have terrified everybody:

The decisive factor for the Greens … is that their issue of climate protection has not attracted voters, but rather deterred them. Since Economics Minister Habeck’s Heating Ordinances, the mood has increasingly turned against climate protection and more and more against the Greens.

“We have overestimated the willingness to change,” Green veteran politician Jürgen Trittin said …

The problem for the party is that it cannot hope that anything will change here… One way forward might be to distance themselves from climate issues, and rather to emphasise that they will not leave people to fend for themselves when it comes to climate change … and to ensure social balance. “We have to tell the story differently,” a leading Green politician says.

When the party leaders .. appeared before the press … on Monday afternoon, it seemed as if they wanted to put this realisation into practice straight away. They spoke of “security” again and again. This kind of talk is otherwise familiar only from the CDU …

On Sunday evening, some admitted that this tactic had limited prospects. After all, the federal government is currently negotiating an austerity budget. More social support is hardly possible.

The leftist parties are caught in a trap of their own making.

Their insane home heating ordinances merely accelerated the gradual decay of climate change as a political issue in the Federal Republic, and since the courts ruled against their budgetary wizardry last November, they have no money (ER: The Scholz govt had a whack of cash for Covid, and still a large sum left over when Covid declined. Which was then conveniently designated for climate policy. German courts said ‘not so fast’.) A leftist party that cannot increase entitlements and that manages to be more terrifying than its own sermons about the climate apocalypse has nothing to offer anyone.

This is one facet of a much bigger political shift that will mark the coming decades. Social democracy is already in long-term decline, not only in Germany but across Europe, and if indeed it is true that the Greens have had their moment and are facing a future as a marginal party too small to play coalition king-makers, you have to ask what will become of the left more broadly. They have no successor movement waiting in the wings, and their own political clients – the migrants they have welcomed to Europe by the millions – have an entirely different illiberal political vision.

3. The Fight against the Right Amounted to Nothing

For months we have had nothing but one freakout after the other about “the extreme right.” Chancellor Olaf Scholz called millions of people into the streets in January to defend democracy against the alleged fascists of the AfD. His Interior Minister and our constitutional protectors have issued proposal after proposal to harass and intimidate their political opponents and to realign the “thought and speech patterns” of ordinary Germans. They have denounced the alleged violent tendencies of AfD supporters and their general “contempt for politics,” and demanded that the “silent majority” put the right-wing extremists in their place.

And after all of that, the AfD are still the second-strongest party in Germany. Yes, they claimed only 15.9% of the votes, well below their polling high around 23% last autumn. Part of that loss, however, is down to competition from the new party of Sahra Wagenknecht, and in any case we must remember that the regime has thrown literally everything they have at the AfD for half a year now. Fake Nazi hysteria, strange stories about collusion with Russia and China, even the late-breaking scandal over Maximilian Krah’s interview with Italian media and the ensuing split with the Identity and Democracy faction – for months our media would talk about little else. The blitz was powerfully reminiscent of the Covid insanity, and in the end the AfD are still standing.

If anything, the attacks have only hardened the convictions of their core voters. Fully 95% of AfD supporters “‘think it’s good that the party wants to further limit the influx of foreigners and refugees,” 90% “think it’s good that there’s a party that wants to fundamentally reform the EU”; and 82% “don’t care that the party is considered partly right-wing extreme, as long as they address the correct issues.”

Suddenly the press are singing a different, and much more measured, tune:

The affairs surrounding the AfD’s leading candidates for the EU parliament have clearly not harmed the party at all. Nor has it been harmed by the fact that the other right-wing parties in the European Parliament have turned away in disgust from the right-wing populists centred around Maximilian Krah. The secret meeting in Potsdam, at which AfD representatives (and also CDU members) pondered the mass expulsion of migrants, did not diminish the AfD’s success either. Neither did the categorisation of high-ranking party representatives as right-wing extremists.

It is clear that the AfD has become a popular party in the East. And it has successfully immunised itself against criticism. It can now expect the votes of a core constituency, no matter how scandalous the party may appear. … This is also due to the fact that the party has created its own counter-public – primarily via social media. It reaches young voters like no other party via TikTok. Sixteen and 17-year-olds in Brandenburg can also vote in the state elections in the autumn.

4. The East-West Split

The German election results, colour coded by dominant party and broken down by district, yield a clear pattern:

Alpine Pravda: Black is CDU; blue is AfD; green is the Greens; pink is SPD.

Aside from the urban centres, German voters are no longer divided about whether the right or the left represents the best path forward for the nation. Instead, they are divided about which flavour of “the right” they prefer, with the Union parties (CSU / CDU) continuing to command the plurality of support in the West, and the AfD becoming overwhelmingly the choice of the East.

This split has establishment politicianrs worried:

In light of these results, Thuringia’s (ER: East, lower part of blue section on map) Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Left Party) has warned of a growing divide between East and West Germans. “In social networks after the European elections, I now read sentences like: ‘Where is the gratitude of the East Germans?’ These are questions that we don’t need right now,” Ramelow said …

“The East has nothing to apologise for. It should rather be seen as an opportunity. Instead, emotional unity is increasingly collapsing. And the fact that East Germans are expected to be grateful [for reunification] is fuelling this spiral,” Ramelow continued …

Hendrik Wüst, who is CDU Minister President of Nordrhein-Westfalen (ER: western side, next to Netherlands), wants more cultural exchange between the east and the west, apparently because he imagines that the easterners are just undersocialised or something:

“It’s time for a Unification Treaty 2.0 that not only brings formal unity but also brings people together better – for greater trust and cohesion between East and West,” Wüst said… “Because dialogue creates trust and opens up prospects for greater mutual understanding.”

What Wüst and many others like him are too stupid to realise, is that it’s the West that is the anomaly here. Consider France, where the “right-wing extreme” National Rally and Reconquest together claimed well over 30% of the vote in most districts. In Italy, the Fratelli d’Italia and the Lega together saw similar results. The preferences of East Germans in this context just look normal. It’s the Wessies who are outliers and isolated with their insanity in the broader European context, who are out of step with the political preferences of younger generations, and whose lectures for all of these reasons will only grow more strident and less convincing every day.

Source

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Published to The Liberty Beacon from EuropeReloaded.com

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