Expert Pitch

Far-Right Likely to Enter German Parliament, but Remain Isolated

Cornell University
22-Sep-2017 10:30 AM EDT, by Cornell University


Far-right likely to enter German parliament, but remain isolated

On Sunday, Germans will be headed to the polls to elect a new federal government ultimately determine the country's next chancellor. Mona Krewel is an assistant professor of government at Cornell University, an expert on elections and campaigning in Europe and author of the recently published book “Modernization of German Election Campaigns?” She is confident that Angela Merkel can pull off a victory.



Krewel says:

“The economy in Germany is doing well and if the fundamentals are good, this usually pays off for the incumbent. With the refugee crisis having moved to its second stage, integration, Angela Merkel has also managed to climb out of the biggest hole of her political career. If she would have been up for re-election in 2015, when the refugee crisis was still in full swing, she would probably not have gotten re-elected.

“However, the far-right nationalist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is most likely to make it into the German Bundestag with a double-digit result on Sunday and might even become the third strongest faction in the newly elected parliament, as the high influx of refugees has also left many German citizens worried Germany’s social systems will not be able to cope with the high amount of refugees Germany has welcomed. That said, there is a clear consensus among all democratic parties that xenophobic positions are not tolerable in the German parliament so it is likely that none of the established parties will want to work with the extremist right-wing AfD.

“I expect an historical defeat for the Social Democrats (SPD). The initial euphoria of the SPD for their candidate, Martin Schulz, was only very shortly mirrored by voters in the polls.

“But the story does not end on Sunday and much will depend on the coalitions that will form after the election. Most likely, we will not know for sure what those are before the beginning of December, probably even mid-December.”



Mabel Berezin is professor of sociology at Cornell University and author of “Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Cultures, Security, and Populism in a New Europe” and “Europe Without Borders.” Berezin says this is the first time in German history for a far right-wing party to gain the aura of legitimacy and to possibly win a seat in parliament.    



Berezin says:

“As of recent polls, this Sunday’s German elections are likely to violate a post-war taboo against government participation of any party with even a trace of right wing politics.

“On Sunday, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a nationalist right-wing group that did not even exist before 2013 is on track to receive 10 to 11 percent of the vote – meaning that it would gain a seat in the German parliament. This is not just a case of Germany having a populist right party as virtually every other country in the core of what we used to label Western Europe.

“The significance here is far broader that the much-touted French Presidential election in May or even the upcoming Austrian elections.

“What this signifies is that the power of the memory of the Nazi past has lost its grip on the types of parties that can legitimately enter the German political arena. To be sure, Germany had two small and insignificant far right-wing parties in the past, but this is the first party with the aura of legitimacy and a party that has already made regional electoral gains.

“Angela Merkel may easily get re-elected but she opened the door to the AfD in fall 2015 at the same moment that she promised to open the door to Syrian refugees.” 


Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.


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