In Politico, Yardena Schwartz (ahem) has a piece titled “Germany’s Far Right Rises Again”, with the ominous byline: “Purged from German politics 70 years ago, nationalism is back. And many fear where it could lead.” As if the word ‘Again’ in the title wasn’t enough.
We have the obligatory ‘novelistic pretensions’ opening paragraph, de rigueur for the leftwing press these days, whenever profiling conservatives, the Alt Right, etc.
MUNICH—Five days after Donald Trump became the next president of the United States, the South Munich chapter of Germany’s far-right party, Alternative for Deutschland, held its first meeting since the U.S. election. In a traditional Bavarian tavern on a quiet residential street, 50-some party members and supporters drank beer and celebrated the victory that they felt was, in many ways, their own.
A beer hall in Munich! Wait, didn’t another nationalist group once get together in Munich beer halls?!
That level of success for a far-right party in the country that gave rise to Adolf Hitler would represent a political earthquake for Europe—and a national trauma for Germans, who have sought to expunge and confront their history in the 70 years since World War II.
I knew it! It’s Hitler 2.0!!
Now, the party is poised for a historic result in next year’s national elections, in which Merkel faces her stiffest challenge yet. After narrowly missing the 5 percent needed to enter national parliament in the 2013 elections, polls now suggest the AfD will receive 16 percent of the national vote in 2017, making it the third-largest political party in Germany, after Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), part of Merkel’s grand coalition. The terror attack that killed 12 people at a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday is expected to bolster the AfD even more, and in turn, lower support for Merkel, who has been criticized for welcoming nearly 1 million migrants in 2015 alone, without proper background checks.
Hmm, you think?
The AfD’s rise has been stunning, accomplishing in just three years what took other populist European parties—like France’s National Front and Austria’s Freedom Party—more than four decades to achieve…
“What they are managing right now is to make a very radical brand of right wing politics not exactly fashionable, but acceptable in Germany, and that’s new,” says Kai Arzheimer, a professor of politics at the University of Mainz. “They should be taken very seriously, insofar as I think they will do pretty well in the upcoming election. Sixteen percent on the national level is a very strong showing by German standards.”
In other words, as with Fillon’s victory in the Republican primary in France, the Overton Window is moving in an Alt Right direction. Views that just a year ago would be considered ‘racist’, etc., are becoming normalized into the mainstream.
What heartens me most about the populist, Alt Right movements happening all across Europe is the critical role of youth involvement:
According to analysts, the majority of AfD voters previously supported Merkel, and voted for parties in the chancellor’s ruling coalition. But, says Arzheimer, one-third of AfD voters are formerly non-voters, people who were so disillusioned by the established parties that they simply didn’t vote. Some, he says, even voted for socialist left wing parties in the past.
All of these voters have one thing in common: They are tired of apologizing for their national history. “We have this problem in Germany where you’re not allowed to love your country because if you do you’re considered a Nazi,” says Sarah Leins, a 30-year-old AfD supporter. “We have to overcome this.”…
Before the election in Berlin, Leins volunteered to hand out AfD flyers in the streets. Several people called her a Nazi and a slut as they walked by. Leins has lost several friends because of her support for the AfD.
“It’s very hard to be proud of Germany because we have this historical guilt,” she says. “To say you’re proud to be German is to say you’re proud of Hitler and that is absolutely not true.”…
Joel Bussman, a 22-year-old AfD supporter, laments Germany’s increasing multiculturalism, particularly its impact on his hometown in the region of North Rhine-Westphalia—where German police are now on a manhunt for the suspect in Monday’s attack in Berlin.
“By inviting the whole world here, not everything will be better. More like everything will get worse,” says Bussman, a university student in Berlin. “The place I’m from used to be the heart of German mining and steel production, much like Pennsylvania in the USA. Today there’s no industry left, no jobs left. It’s pretty much a multicultural melting pot with almost no Germans left. When you walk the streets there you see mostly foreign people. There are almost no German shops anymore, which I find quite disturbing.”
From my own experience, I believe a greatly underreported story is the willingness of youth here in the States to support Trump and consider the arguments of the Alt Right.