AfD unsettles Merkel coronation
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is widely expected to win a record-equalling fourth term on September 24, but the possible coalition partners are causing increased speculation.
Some observers in Germany have warned that a second election might be necessary if negotiations with Merkel’s current coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party, break down.
If her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) becomes the largest party along with its Bavarian CSU ally, it would have the right to try to form a coalition first. The allied parties have a double-digit polling lead.
Merkel would become modern Germany’s longest-serving chancellor, providing she remains in position until 2021, stretching her presence in the Bundestag into a third decade.
The far-right Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) has taken support from Merkel but it is hard to know how much, as Germans are reticent about admitting to any xenophobia. Merkel has ruled out a coalition with the AfD.
Merkel’s reception in eastern Germany has been noticeably more hostile.
Town square rallies are common during German elections and Merkel was repeatedly been whistled at and booed when she defended her decision to allow more than 1 million migrants to enter country during the summer of 2015.
Around 280,000 migrants claimed asylum in 2016 and 90,389 in the first half of 2017, with increased deportations.
In September last year, the CDU fell to third place in an election in her home district, falling behind the AfD.
It was the first time since the Second World War that the CDU had been beaten by a far-right party.
Alexander Gauland, the party’s co-founder, said the new parliamentarians would create a committee in the Bundestag to examine Merkel’s policy to allow refugees into the country.
“We want Merkel’s policy of bringing 1 million people into this country to be investigated, and we want her to be severely punished for that. We’re gradually becoming foreigners in our own country,” Gauland said on September 17.
Merkel, 63, first won a Bundestag seat in 1990, a year after she joined the CDU.
Critics say “Mutti” is overly pragmatic and lacks any coherent ideology, pointing to her U-turns on nuclear power, where Merkel has vowed to phase out Germany’s nuclear power plants by 2022, despite earlier undoing a preceding government’s decision to end their use. Merkel also allowed an open vote on legalising gay marriage, something she has publicly opposed.
Syrian refugees at Budapest’s Keleti railway station, Hungary, in September 2015. Picture credit: Wikimedia