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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bernd Lucke sets out his alternative for Germany and the EU

The new German anti-euro party Alternative für Deutschland’s radically different take on the eurozone compared with the rest of the German political establishment has generated a lot of interest both inside Germany and beyond. As such it was no surprise that today’s Q&A session with AfD leader Bernd Lucke (hosted by the Bruges Group in Westminster) was packed. Here are a few key points from the event:

On the formation of AfD and its prospects 

Lucke admitted that as a young Economics professor in 1999 he supported the euro because he believed it would lead to structural reforms in Southern European countries, and because he took the ‘no bailout clause’ in the Maastricht Treaty at face value. It was the breaking of this that led him to leave the CDU and eventually establish AfD.

He also said that the German political system is structured to keep out new parties – including state subsidies for established parties - with the Greens being the only successful entrant onto the scene in recent years. However he said he was encouraged by polls suggesting AfD’s potential support could be as high as 30%, and that the key would be attracting lower educated blue collar workers in particular.

On the Eurozone

Lucke said that he had reached the conclusion that the current eurozone policy was fatally “mis-conceived” and would never work because financial markets’ fears of a sovereign default could never be squared with the kind of tough conditionality necessary to ensure that member states met their obligations with regards to structural reforms and fiscal consolidation (the failure of the fiscal pact to enforce its 3% deficit limit suggests he could have a point).

Instead, he argued that the Southern member states should leave immediately in order to allow for the devaluation of their new currencies, after which the remaining member states could decide whether to maintain a currency union between themselves or to go for a full break up.

On the UK and the EU

Lucke said that despite his opposition to the euro, he was not opposed to EU integration, adding that as a German he valued its role as a peace project. He even suggested that he was not opposed to transfers between European states per se but that the current system was flawed – for example indirect transfers via the ECB’s bond buying programmes, which happen without democratic approval. However, he added that there was much to be reformed about the EU from its overbearing bureaucracy and appetite for regulation which stifle economic growth to its undemocratic practices. He added that as such he broadly supported David Cameron’s critique, and that he valued British ‘euroscepticism’ as a positive force in ensuring better decisions being reached at the EU level.


Rik said...

1. On the no-bail out.
Pretty naive to believe that this was not going to play with Europe's politicians who are simply scared for big decisions with relatively uncertain outcomes. Merkel probably the best example.
There always was a high probability that if one of the Southeners (it was always to be them) would go belly up financially, people would get scared. The consequences of a country going bust especially a larger one, likely bigger for a monetary union than a big bank going under.

2. On communication of AfD
If you go for poorly educated blue colar workers you simply need to simplify your message considerably more. Wilders eg shows gets his electorate slightly above that and communicate much simpler.
Probably a better targetgroup as well. Group hanging with their teeth at the bottom part of the middleclass (European/US not UK).

Communicationstyle also is a big disadvantage in remaining in the news. And staying in the news is the issue. In in order to do that you have to be news (or so irritating for the others that via their statements you become news again). P%^($ng them off work in 2 ways. Stay in the news and clearly irritates people the potential voters donot like.
There should be around 30% potential (like in most countries). Most countries show around that percentage.
However at the end of the day it simply looks like staying in the news will be the deciding factor (and a few Euro problems might help as well).
To be honest that will not be easy. What I have seen is simply too boring to achieve that.
Further focussing on immigration and third world transfers might help. Preferably via one liners. The other side gets normally totally emotional on that one. Basically everything existing political parties have against a 'populist or similar' party is good PR for that newcomer. EU will likely involve themselves (so works in 2 ways). Simply: the 30% potentials are people who completely have had it with traditional parties and for whom the people representing those parties are totally uncredible.
Nice to explain to say OE where the party stands for but that is not where the voters are and as said that target group needs to be adressed in a different way.

3. Not anti-Euro points.
It is clear that democracy is on their agenda. However seen the German papers it simply doesnot get media attention. Possibly a referendum and more frequent repeating would work. Seen eg the UK this is a big issue with a lot of potential. People like to be involved in decisionmaking and not like with the Euro (or EU membership in the UK) kept away of it as much as possible.

Rodney Atkinson said...

To believe in the loss of political sovereign power while opposing the loss of economic sovereignty (the Euro) is naive and hypocritical. The only reason why people understand the true nature of the EU is that it is impossible to hide the economic and financial disasters of the Euro. It is unfortunately far easier to hide the horrendous constitutional democratic destruction which the EU in toto has wrought - but which is no less serious.

Anonymous said...

Yet one more Eurofascist wanting more concentration of illegitimate power in the hands of the EUSSR.

Merkel and others in Germany should be arrested for war crimes for the profound and relentless harm they have done to the people of Europe.