Germans Being Germans: Who’s Afraid of Alternative for Germany?

Germany is in an unexpected political stalemate. This month, coalition talks among quarreling parties collapsed, leaving who will govern the country in question. If it is unable to form a new government, Germany could hold national elections again, a dismal prospect for all.

In September, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel and her dominant Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lost big. The upstart Alternative for Germany (AfD) party surged in popularity.

Founded four years ago during the Greek financial crisis as an anti-Eurozone party, the AfD, pitching itself as an anti-immigrant party, secured third place in parliament with almost 13 percent of the popular vote. The reasons for AfD’s meteoric rise include “anxieties about national identity, globalization, migration, Islam and jobs” across the European continent, as the New York Times puts it.

Many votes for AfD were protest votes. To vote CDU was to condone Merkel’s role in Germany’s reckless open-borders policies beginning in 2015. A lot of middle-class, nationally minded Germans don’t want to excuse that. They’re happy to watch her squirm.