Alternative für Merkel: What Didn’t Go Right for the Chancellor

29.12.2017

Almost half of German citizens (47%) has expressed the opinion that German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel should leave her post before the end of her mandate.

The poll was conducted by the sociological service YouGov for the agency DPA. About two thousand citizens of Germany with the right to vote participated in the poll.

36% expressed the opinion, that Merkel should remain until the end of her term in 2021.

Not the first stats

We must note, that these data are different from the results of the September polls, when 36% of the respondents wanted Merkel to leave and 44% wanted her to remain in power.

At the same time another poll was held which also turned out unhappily for the Bundeskanzlerin. According to the results of research condicted by the bureau Kantar Emnid for Funke, the anti-rating of German politicians in the year 2017 was headed by SDP leader Martin Schulz (67% unhappy), Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer (61%) and Angela Merkel (53%).

Electoral noise

The first factor that had an influence of Merkel’s fall in popularity are the September elections for the Bundestag, which turned out to be a failure for the CDU/CSU block and in which she didn’t manage to form a coalition with ‘Die Grüne’ and the SDP. Alongside the results themselves, the prolonged discussions with the social-democrats are becoming legendary (almost like the uncertainty of Catalonia’s status). 

In January 2018 the bloc will begin discussions with the SDP about the possible creation of a new ruling coalition. On the 12th of January the first results will be declared, which will be presented to the country’s political leadership for discussion.

If both sides don’t reach an agreement again, Germany might have a minority government for the first time in its history. The second variant is new elections. What is important is that both variants are not to Merkel’s liking.

The situation is worsened by the fact that the leader of the Free Democratic Part of Germany (FDP), Christian Lindner, has declared that he will refuse to rule if Merkel continues to be Bundeskanzlerin.

Most definitely, the popular right-wing party ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ is securing the populist turn more and more. They took third place in the elections with 12,6% of the votes, and they have also promised to hold the Bundeskanzlerin accountable for opening the borders to refugees in 2015.

The terrorist factor

Another important factor that has shown in Merkel’s ratings is the government’s acknowledgement of errors that allowed the terrorist attack on the Christmas market in Berlin of 2016 to happen. In turn, justice minister Heiko Maas has acknowledged that the government “was not sufficiently prepared for the consequences of a terrorist attack.”

Migrants

Without a doubt, voters asked Merkel questions related to migrants the most. She continues to insist that the policy of migration quotas for refugees to EU countries is necessary, and that there should be “full solidarity in the EU on questions related to the migration crisis.”  

It is interesting that on the 29th of November, instead of refusing the ruinous policy for Europe, Merkel declared that it is necessary to create ‘legal corridors’ for Africans coming through Libya. In other words, instead of closing the borders, she proposed to make it easier for arrivals to get in.

In addition, according to prognoses, the population of Africa will double in 2050 (the population is now at around 1.2 billion inhabitants).

There are only a couple European countries that have openly declared their disagreement with such a policy. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have refused to fulfil their migrant obligations, after which, on the 7th of December, the European Commission has opened legal proceedings against the countries, which “have not heeded recommendations to observe their legal duties and show solidary to Greece and Italy.”

The countries’ position is understandable: alongside legal ‘deliveries’ of refugees there remains a painful problem of illegal immigration: according to data from the European border agency Frontex, in November 2017 there were 13.500 cases of illegal entry into the EU. The Vysegrád Four are also accused of the loss of a 35-million-euro crease for the strengthening of border security in Libya, through which Middle Eastern and North African migrants reach the continent.

The leadership has been broken

In addition, dissatisfaction with Germany’s authoritarianism in the economic and even military sphere has piled up, including in the German establishment. Thus, the head of Germany’s ministry of foreign affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, has declared that the country’s military leadership in Europe might be lethal for Germany. “It would be lethal if Germany wanted to be not only the leading political and economic force in Europe, but also the military force.” It is important to note, that the perspective of enlarging military expenditure to 2% of the GDP has caused many to worry.

The alternative

Next to the growth in popularity of parties and movements in the spirit of the ‘Alternative für Deutschland’, there are also other European politicians who are critically to Merkel’s methods. For example, the new head of Austria’s ministry of foreign affairs, Karin Kneissl, actively criticises the Bundeskanzlerin’s migration policy. Taking into account the new Austrian balance of power (a coalition of conservatives from the People’s Party (ÖVP) and members of the Freedom Party (FPÖ), we can hope that the ‘open door’ policy will decline from year to year. At the same time, European countries (not just Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic) will start to refuse force migrant quotes more and more, and European elections will continue to bring surprises.

Translated from the Russian by V.A.V.