Merkel's Immigration Hangover: Germany Turns Right

Merkel's Immigration Hangover: Germany Turns Right
AP Photo/Michael Sohn

BerlinAngela Merkel's time as leader of the West, to use the honorific the New York Times and CNN bestowed on her, lasted about eight months​—​roughly from the swearing-in of Donald J. Trump in January until people began throwing tomatoes at her during a September campaign rally in Heidelberg. Traitor to the people! the signs said. Hau ab! the attendees shouted, an instruction too obscene to translate. By election day, so loud was the whistling that outdoor rallies were moved indoors.Merkel was campaigning for a fourth term as Germany's chancellor, something only Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl had won since the war. On September 24, she got it, too, but at a steep price for her and for Germany. It was the worst performance for her Christian Democrats (CDU) since 1949. They got less than a third of the vote and lost ground in all 16 of the country's states​—​this for a party that used to dominate the right of German politics and was capable of winning absolute majorities. The old party of the left, the Social Democrats (SPD), did worse, barely scraping 20 percent. Coming in third with 13 percent of the vote was the brand-new Alternative for Germany (AfD), an anti-immigration party that will send 93 members to the 709-seat Bundestag, the parliament in Berlin. The AfD brings a shudder to those who think of Merkel as the leader of the West. In a way, it is her creation.

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