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Germany's (neo-fascist) protest vote fuelled by extended income gap

Wednesday, September 27th 2017 - 07:39 UTC
Full article 21 comments

By Gwynne Dyer - Angela Merkel’s slogan in her campaign for a fourth term as Chancellor was terminally bland and smug – “For a Germany in which we live well and love living” – but it did the job, sort of. Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is back as the largest party, so Merkel gets to form the next coalition government. But the neo-fascists are now in the Bundestag (parliament) too, for the first time since the collapse of Nazi Germany. Read full article

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  • DemonTree

    Interesting article. It's fairly obvious that the big immediate cause for the increase in support for the AfD was Merkel's decision to let in over 1m refugees. But the map of asylum seakers in Germany does not match up at all well with the map of AfD votes, so there must be something else going on.

    AfD voters are concentrated in the old East Germany, which is still the poorest part, but they are also relatively popular in Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg, which are two of the richest areas. Also poor areas on the western border of Germany did not vote for the AfD. So it's not just about money either.

    AfD vote appears to be somewhat anti-correlated to the SPD, so could the distribution be more linked to social conservatism than anything else?

    Sep 27th, 2017 - 10:53 am - Link - Report abuse +1
  • Brit Bob

    Mrs M. you need to up your spending on defence.

    Spending on NATO – Percentage of GDP 2016 - United States, 3.61%. Greece, 2.38%. Britain, 2.21%. Estonia, 2.16%. Poland, 2%. France, 1.78%. Turkey, 1.56%. Norway, 1.54%. Lithuania, 1.49%. Romania, 1.48%. Latvia, 1.45%. Portugal, 1.38%. Bulgaria, 1.35%. Croatia, 1.23%. Albania, 1.21%. Germany, 1.19%. Denmark, 1.17%. Netherlands, 1.17%. (NATO Stats published by CNN 18 July 2016)

    Sep 27th, 2017 - 03:30 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    Why? What is the benefit to Nato of Germany meeting an arbitrary spending target? It's not like we get to spend any less since we're supposed to meet the target too.

    Sep 27th, 2017 - 04:35 pm - Link - Report abuse -1
  • Clyde15

    The benefit is more aircraft, ships, and equipment. They can afford it or is it easier for other countries to shoulder more of the burden from their taxpayers to help Germany.

    Greece's expenditure is related to their fear of Turkey....a NATO ally !

    Sep 28th, 2017 - 12:34 pm - Link - Report abuse +1
  • The Voice

    Bavaria was the home of the Nazis (apart from Argentina that is). Adolph loved Munich, Eagles Nest etc Nazis need a minority to hate, it was the Jews back then, now its asylum seekers.

    Sep 28th, 2017 - 02:57 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    @Clyde15
    Sure, but does Nato need more aircraft, ships and equipment? It's not like they sat down and said “these are Nato's objectives; to have an effective force we need x, y and z,” and then divided the cost fairly among the members. The 2% target is completely arbitrary, and depends on how well those countries' economies are doing. Those who spend more either have tensions with their neighbours like Greece, or have their own interests outside Nato like France and the UK.

    As for the US, they spend on their military in order to remain a super power, and from what I heard Trump is planning to increase military spending no matter what Germany or anyone else does.

    @TV
    So basically the areas that voted for the Nazi's in the 30s are voting for the AfD today? Makes sense, but it still leaves the question of why those regions voted for the Nazis back then.

    And is it a coincidence that the far-right is becoming popular again just when there are fewer and fewer people left who remember WWII? I don't think so...

    Sep 28th, 2017 - 03:54 pm - Link - Report abuse -1
  • The Voice

    How do you work out that rememberence of WWII is essential to believing in fascism? Well before WWII fascism was stirring in most European countries along with Eugenics etc. It so happens that the lunatic that became Germanys leader went too far, invading other countries which started that world war. But fascism as an idea has always had a following almost everywhere. It seems that the Germans are particularly prone to it which is everybodys worry, they like to be in charge like they are now in the EU. The Bavarians are quite different to the Ossies and Prussies, nicer I would say, so its odd.

    Sep 28th, 2017 - 04:31 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    You've got it the wrong way around. I'm saying remembrance of WWII put people off believing in fascism, especially in Germany. Like communism, the people who had personal experience with it were mostly not keen to have another go. And fascism was really a new idea that became popular after WWI in certain countries. IFAIK it started in Italy and Italy was the first to start invading other countries too.

    I wonder if Germans really are particularly prone to it? All the reasons I can think of that they might be are not true of Italy, so that's a bit of a mystery.

    Sep 28th, 2017 - 05:02 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Clyde15

    The American's complain that they bolster NATO while other countries sit back and rely on the US taxpayer to bankroll them. If they decided to cut back their forces in Europe then the shortfall would have to be made up by the other members.

    Sep 28th, 2017 - 06:49 pm - Link - Report abuse +1
  • DemonTree

    “The American's complain that they bolster NATO while other countries sit back and rely on the US taxpayer to bankroll them.”

    This is perfectly true, but it ain't charity on America's part. During the cold war, the deal was that the US provided the money and nukes, and Europe provided bases for the US military, and sites for the missiles. Europe would be the battleground. The US would fight in Korea, or Vietnam, or in Europe if necessary, to avoid fighting closer to home later.

    And a not insignificant reason the US signed defence treaties including Germany and Japan, and maintains military bases in both to this day, was so they would not need to re-arm after WWII to protect themselves from the powerful communist neighbours.

    Nowadays there is not so much point to Nato, but the US keeps its high military spending to maintain it's dominance of world affairs. If they pull out of Nato, what is likely is an EU defence force, and depending on how much of a threat they think Russia is, Germany and the other countries may HAVE to start spending more. I don't think the US really wants a military rival in Europe. As long as the EU relies on US protection, the US can to some extent dictate Europe's foreign policy. If the EU has independent power, they can follow their own interests, which will not always align with America's.

    @TV
    Thinking about it some more, the most obvious similarity between Germany and Italy back then was that both were fairly recently united countries, who felt they had missed their chance to grab a big colonial empire and become powerful like their neighbours, and wanted to make up for it and tried to build their own empires in Europe as a consequence. Perhaps both felt they had something to prove, and latched onto ideologies that said they were superior and would rise to their 'rightful' place.

    None of this is really a factor anymore.

    Sep 28th, 2017 - 11:17 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Clyde15

    If you don't think there is much point to NATO, ask the Poles , Latvians, Lithuanians, Norwegians,Czechs, Slovakians, Romanians and Bulgarians. They have seen what has happened in Georgia and the Ukraine. The Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal on assurances from Russia that it would respect their national boundaries. We saw what that was worth !
    The Germans don't like spending on defence. They all but scuttled the Eurofighter by cancelling numbers required and delaying deliveries adding too the unit costs.

    Sep 29th, 2017 - 11:25 am - Link - Report abuse +2
  • DemonTree

    @Clyde15
    There's not as much point as there used to be during the cold war when there was a great clash of ideologies, is there? Russia is certainly a serious threat to the Baltics, but to Germany?

    It's true the Germans don't like to spend on defence, and quite ironic we are discussing getting them to spend more on an article about how a fascist party just became the third largest in the Bundestag. If their stinginess is adversely affecting their allies as you say, then that is a good reason for them to spend more, but it's not the same as meeting an arbitrary 2% target.

    What do you think about a combined European force? If well run it would be a lot more efficient, currently there is a lot of duplicated effort in each country, and by combining resources they could afford things like aircraft carriers that each country struggles to fund on their own.

    Sep 29th, 2017 - 12:33 pm - Link - Report abuse -1
  • Clyde15

    Actually I thought we were back into a cold war ! Putin is ex KGB and adept at seizing any advantage to make Russia more politically powerful. His agents have managed to kill one of his Russian critics in Britain. Cyber attacks are a daily occurrence against western companies and institutions. A friend to Syria and Iran. Hardly a friendly neighbour.

    I don't know how the 2% figure was arrived at, but it seems that a corresponding figure allocated from the countries budget would seem fair.

    Our defence chiefs are opposed to a European Defence Force. NATO works just fine for us.
    We are leaving the EU because we do not want anything to do with an United States of Europe. A European defence force would require political union so it has to be a non-starter for us.
    With a common procurement policy it would be nothing but trouble. Who would get the orders for ships, tanks and aircraft. I am sure the French would be in there first.

    A common language would be needed. The French would insist that it would have to be their language. They still have a hankering for “La Gloire”

    No, NATO has served us well during my lifetime and I see no reason to change it.

    Sep 29th, 2017 - 05:36 pm - Link - Report abuse +2
  • DemonTree

    Maybe it's a little like the cold war, but only a little. Russia alone is nowhere near as powerful as the old USSR. And there is no longer a threat of communism spreading across the world either. There's a threat of authoritarian governments/dictators spreading, but the current US President seems to have no problem with that. Plus Europe is rather dependant on Russian oil and gas.

    No sure what you mean by “a corresponding figure allocated from the countries budget”. From what budget?

    I know Britain is opposed to a European defence force, but we can't do much to block one any more. I don't know that it would require political union, although that would help. And there would definitely be a huge fight over who got the contracts, same as other EU institutions. Hopefully they wouldn't do anything as daft as having the parliament sit in two different cities, in two different countries. And whatever the French want, I doubt they could persuade the others to use their language. What language does Nato use?

    I doubt we'll see big changes unless the US does something drastic like withdraw from Nato, but if that happened, and we were going to have a much stronger (than us) unified military on our doorstep, would you rather the UK tried to join or stayed out of it?

    Sep 29th, 2017 - 09:12 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Don Alberto

    But the neo-fascists are now in the British lower house, for the first time since WW2.

    AfD is no more fascist than Tory, New Labour, US Republicans.

    Sep 30th, 2017 - 01:44 am - Link - Report abuse -1
  • Clyde15

    The US Presidency lasts 4 years....will D.Trump?

    NATO was formed to protect the west from Russian aggression and expansion. At that time it was communism but it could just as easily be from totalitarianism expansion.

    It is felt by experts on Russian affairs that there is now a desire to reconstitute the old Soviet Union and regain their world standing as a global super power. Putin exhibits these tendencies in words and actions.

    The countries own budgets raised from their taxation the same as the UK defence spending comes from our taxation and is allocated from our budget. Spending priorities depend on circumstances.

    We don't have to block an European defence force. We just don't have to take part.
    Yes we have cooperation outside the NATO remit but it just seems surplus to NATO.

    The way NATO is set-up, an attack on one is an attack on all. That seems OK by me.

    Why should we be bothered by a stronger unified European force on our doorstep. Is this a threat to us ? In some ways it would be quite good. They could take over the the minor wars and firefights that we have been stuck with for decades. We have paid a much higher price than anyone except the USA.

    Yes NATO uses English mainly because of the USA command and control.

    Take the USA out of the equation, why should a proto European force use English when there are no English speakers involved.
    The French would insist that their language be the one used....look at their history on this subject !

    Sep 30th, 2017 - 11:57 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • The Voice

    I predict Afd will get stronger with time. Neighbouring Austria almost had an extreme right wing President. They will egg one another on. The Nazis suceeded because they fed off the German grievance about the post WW1 settlement. Afd will use the 1 million culturaly foreign immigrants in the same way to advance their cause.

    Sep 30th, 2017 - 01:45 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Don Alberto

    Afd will use the 5 million culturally foreign immigrants in the same way to advance their cause if CDU/CSU and SPD don't change course.

    The last 1 million democracy-hostile foreigners arrived in 2015 and 2016.

    Sep 30th, 2017 - 02:41 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    @Clyde15
    I reckon Trump will last 4 years (probably), but I don't think he'll get much done in that time. Turns out running a country is hard, who'd have thought?

    I agree that Putin would like to rebuild Russia's empire in some form that would let them return to super power status, but it's still not the same as with communism. Any given country might decide to ally themselves with Russia for pragmatic reasons, but there's no fear of communism spreading across the world and converting America's allies into Russian allies.

    If I understand you correctly, it would mean countries who want to spend more on other areas eg pensions would automatically have to spend more on their military too. I think they'd object to that even more than to the current arrangement.

    I guess if you don't think a strong European force is a bad thing then there is no need to block one. They would be between us and Russia, and they could take over those minor fights like you say. But why do you think the UK government helps out the US in minor wars all the time and willingly pays that price? Charity?

    If the UK was part of the force then there would be English speakers involved. With the majority of the parties already using English in Nato it would be natural to use English. Without us involved then who knows? English is still the most widely spoken second language in Europe, but perhaps they wouldn't want to use it for political reasons.

    @The Voice & Don Alberto
    I hope you are wrong. Now the migrants have stopped pouring in, Germany should be able to settle down and deal with them, and in any case it's still a wealthy country, with few problems compared to the 1920s and 30s.

    Oct 01st, 2017 - 11:18 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Clyde15

    I don't see the similarity with political systems such as communism instantly making one an enemy. All you need are countries allied to your ambitions, or fear of them, to create a pseudo empire much as the Soviet Union was.
    After the recent Zapod -( Russian for West ) military exercises, it has been reported that Russia has left some of its forces in Belarus, despite assurances it would not do so.
    If you look at a map, Belarus abuts Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. Handy for Russian expansion when their ethnic minorities plead for help against persecution

    I think the UK politicians wish to keep a seat at the big table. Allying oneself with the USA helps. However, we...“Blair”.. pulled the USA into Kosovo when they were reluctant to do so. The USA did not want to get dragged into Libya, but did so because our politicians overreached themselves and needed help.

    It could also be said that some of these minor wars could have long term strategic implications for the UK. So, being involved MAY be to our long term advantage.

    “If I understand you correctly, it would mean countries who want to spend more on other areas eg pensions would automatically have to spend more on their military too”

    No, you did not understand me correctly.

    If you spend 2% of your total income on defence THEN you have 98% to spend on other government expenditure. It's up to the government to allocate this money to whatever they wish. Just the same as in the UK.

    I still don't see English being kept as the command and control language if we were not involved in a European Force. The French are extremely touchy about the English language taken preeminence over French.

    The same with the EU, with the UK gone, no need for English translations.

    Oct 01st, 2017 - 01:02 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • DemonTree

    At school we learned about domino theory; they believed if one country became communist it would spread to the next, and the next... This is what America and the west were afraid of. Communism was still a popular idea back then, plenty of countries might have been willing to try it. Countries could be pulled into supporting Russia not because they shared its ambitions, or were afraid, but due to shared ideology. Even in western countries there were people who supported communism, like the Cambridge Five who spied for the KGB.

    But nowadays other countries would only support Russia if there was something in it for them.

    So I do agree Russia wants to extend its power back over nearby nations, but it's not a global threat anymore.

    Yes, the UK wants to keep as much influence as possible, that's a major reason we spend more on the military than Germany. That veto is useful for stopping inconvenient Security Council resolutions. Allying with the US helps, and so probably would allying with the hypothetical European power, who might have a different idea of what fights to get into and on who's side.

    Still not sure what you're saying about budget then. The current target is 2% of GDP, not 2% of government spending, so the government certainly can't spend the other 98% unless they want to leave people with nothing to live on. According to https://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/current_spending the planned military budget for 2018 is £45b, which is 5.5% of all government spending.

    As for language, being the EU they will probably try to make it multilingual and turn it into a mess, but who knows, the French might get their way. Without us they are easily the biggest spender. I just think it would have been English if we were involved.

    And in the EU generally, they'll still need English translations for Ireland, as most people there don't speak Irish. Last I heard they were going to keep English as a working language, but remove it as an official language of the EU.

    Oct 01st, 2017 - 06:06 pm - Link - Report abuse 0

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