The talk all over Berlin today will not be on who wins. Everybody in Germany has already accepted that Angela Merkel will come out victorious, her lead on second placed Martin Schulz is too big for numbers one and two to cause any surprises. Besides, after twelve years Merkel knows very well how to appeal to her base. She has been making the rounds on markets, eating sausages wherever she can. Couldn’t be more German. She’ll win.
But the talk of Berlin is for third place.
Merkel’s last election rally in Munich became quite the spectacle when it was invaded by the AfD supporters who screamed that she had betrayed the country, and it seems that many more voters than were expected are agreeing with her.
Whereas a few weeks ago the German establishment was ashamed at having to admit that the right wing AfD (Alternative for Germany) would probably enter in the German Bundestag (parliament) as the first nationalist party in fifty years again and break the 5% minimum threshold, it is now widely expected that there might be double digits even for them.
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This is an important development, as the nature of German politics means that you will always have to form a coalition government, so Merkel has to choose a dance partner to govern. And a surge of the party to her right (eating away out of the vote of the two other minor parties, the Free Democrats and The Greens) means that she has to swing right over the next couple of years, probably doing exactly what the AfD promised their voters.
The AfD's wants to close the borders, to ban the burqa (as in many other European countries it is already the case), and put Germans first. Where did we hear that before?
The party spokesman of the AfD acknowledges that in the last few weeks there has been a surge of support, saying that people are ‘no longer ashamed to tell their neighbours they will vote AfD’.
Tomorrow Germany could wake up looking a bit different indeed.