Only themselves to blame: How German and EU arrogance led to rise of far-right in Europe

Monday, September 25, 2017
By Paul Martin

EUROPE suffered a major political earthquake yesterday when the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) stormed to an unprecedented 93 seats in the Bundestag election.

Mon, Sep 25, 2017

The German election results have sent shockwaves across the European Union (EU) – stirring the ghosts of the nation’s Nazi past – after Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU union lost 65 seats – a humiliating eight per cent swing.

The Social Democratic Party, headed by former EU chief Martin Schulz, was also humiliated as it lost 40 seats, suffering its worst ever election result.

While Mrs Merkel may still secure an overall majority with the help of two smaller parties, her victory is a hollow one with attention once again turning to the rise of the right in Europe.

The AfD, who won no seats in the 2013 election, are celebrating a stunning result as anger at leaders in Munich and Brussels continues to grow in the country.

The anti-migrant, ultra-nationalist party secured 13 per cent of the overall vote, the third-highest popular vote – something Mrs Merkel has already admitted proves more needs to be done.

The rise of the AfD, who were attacked as Nazis by protestors who gathered at their celebration party yesterday, can be directly linked to Mrs Merkel and her fellow political heavyweights in Brussels, say critics.

Mrs Merkel’s growing influence in the EU has given rise to rabid frustration at what Germans themselves call ‘besserwisserei’, which roughly translates as know-it-all-ism.

Germany’s patronising stance and demand for Europe-wide support on a number of issues, from open borders to a EU army, has provoked a backlash among the country’s voters.

This haughty attitude and inability to compromise was described curtly as “moral imperialism” by Hungary leader Viktor Orban in 2015.

Meanwhile genuine concerns at high levels of immigration and economic inequality have gone ignored.

Equally unattractive has been the charges of hypocrisy levelled at Germany over high-profile issues.

Sir Paul Lever, Britain’s former ambassador to Germany, took umbridge with the country’s self-promoted position as leader in the battle against climate change.

He highlighted the fact, despite their lofty ideals and rallying cries, Germany is actually Europe’s biggest burner of dirty coal and also set to miss the Paris Agreement’s reduction target.

He said the scandal over car emissions had also left a sour taste in the mouths of those forced to listen to Germany’s demands for climate change action.

Sir Paul said: “It’s obvious that the EU should take over emissions testing and that the commission should impose huge fines on Germany.

“But it won’t, because it’s Germany, that’s why. It shows how much power Germany has now.”

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