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Monday, September 01, 2014

The CDU's 'AfD problem': too big to ignore, too controversial to team up with

Yesterday’s regional elections in Saxony saw Germany's anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) score an impressive 9.7%  netting the party its first ever seats in one of Germany’s regional parliaments. The lead candidate of the Green party, Antje Hermenau, described the AfD result as an “earthquake” while AfD leader Bernd Lucke celebrated that they “finally arrived on the German party landscape.”

It is now up to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party to find a new coalition partner after Saxony's FDP followed the national party in losing all its seats. The CDU's lead candidate and current Prime Minister of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, categorically excluded a potential coalition with the AfD describing it as a protest party that due to its inner turmoil was completely unfit to govern. He only waited until after the election result was announced to make this statement however, following a debate within the CDU which continues.

Commenting on the prospects for a CDU-AfD coalition, Bild columnist Bela Anda writes that if it were to enter into a coalition with the AfD,
“The CDU would saw off the branch on which it itself is sitting." 
A CDU-SPD grand coalition is therefore the most likely option although a CDU-Green coalition could also be on the cards.

So is the AfD 'Gekommen um zu bleiben' (here to stay)?

This is not only the title of a famous German pop song but now the question everyone is asking themselves. Regional elections in Thüringen and Brandenburg are coming up in two weeks and the AfD has a good chance of enter both regional parliaments. However, the party's objective remains winning Bundestag seats in 2017 having narrowly missed the 5% threshold in 2013. There will be another eleven regional elections before 2017 and the challenge for the party will be to keep the momentum going. The AfD leadership will no doubt remember the fate of the Pirate party in 2011 - polled at a spectacular 13% before plummeting into virtual non-existence.

In Saxony a large share of AfD vote came from ‘Sonstige’ (other parties) and ‘Nichtwähler’ (non-voters) which is typical for protest parties. But at the same time there is a considerable spread across most mainstream parties with the largest share coming from the CDU (34,000 votes).

















This would be a particular headache for Angela Merkel’s party. The worst case scenario for Merkel is that the AfD becomes to the CDU what Die Linke is to the SPD - and indeed, some would say, UKIP to the Tories in Britain: too big to ignore, too controversial to team up with. This headache will become particularly severe if the liberal FDP's decline is irreversible, dooming the CDU to always have to look to the SDP (or the Greens), in turn making left-right coalitions more or less a permanent feature of German politics.

3 comments:

Rik said...

The CDU is manoeuvering itself in exactly the same position as 1 or 2 decades ago the CDA did in Holland.
And now the Dutch CDA has a structural vorer base of just over 10%.
There is less opposition in Germany, but AfD is simply a normal party (which isnot exactly the case with Wilders in Holland (although he got half the voters that have run away from the CDA, something very close to the present structural voterbase of the CDA).

Religious parties are rapidly going South.
Party much more left than its traditional electorate. And in case of Germany no proper successor plus anyway Merkel fatigue just around the corner.

And we all know what Einstein said of doing the same things and expecting different results.

Luca Tonelli said...

that would just be another case of permanent right-left alliance in europe. like it already is since the crisis exploded in many countries.

After all there s no real difference in economic policies between righ and left in europe nowdays....isn't it?

andreasmoser said...

The AfD may still fade out, like other parties who had made it into state parliaments did, when they didn't manage to work as a coherent opposition or when they were ignored by the media for 5 years.

It seems to have happened to the Pirate Party. It has happened to the different Nazi parties (although the AfD is in part a substitute with openly xenophobic, nationalistic and 19th century statements).

"Die Linke" was something completely different because it had always been a large party (as the PDS) in the East. I don't think WASG would have survived alone.