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Not fit for purpose May 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Hardly surprising to discover that right populists are really not very good at governance during crises. Johnson, Trump, Bolsonaro, all have been remarkably inept during the past number of months. What the political price for that remains to be seen, but at a minimum they have shipped political damage. Fascinating too to see this dynamic expressed at party political level, as in Germany.

The AfD has been the largest opposition force in Germany’s parliament since the 2017 elections. But the party’s fortunes have plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic, with several recent polls putting its share of the vote below 10%.

For Merkel the pandemic has prompted a political comeback. Her personal approval ratings have shot up on the back of a crisis management perceived as calm and competent, and her Christian Democratic Union party leads the polls on about 38% of the vote.

The AfD, a populist outfit that in the past excelled at pinning the blame for complex geopolitical developments to single actors or ethnic groups, has wavered between accusing the Merkel government of shutting down the country’s borders too late and accusing it of not lifting the lockdown earlier.

Adding to the incoherence there was this:

On social media, Chrupalla has demanded a “reopening of the economy” while simultaneously opposing proposed measures to control the spread of the coronavirus after lockdown restrictions are eased, such as contact tracing apps, immunity passports and mandatory vaccinations.

And tellingly they’ve been somewhat outflanked by other emergent, albeit small scale, forces:

The AfD has so far failed to exploit a burgeoning anti-lockdown protest movement that has brought together conspiracy theorists from the far right and the far left.

In April, protest organisers claimed they had registered a new political party called Widerstand2020 (“Resistance2020”) with which they would seek to enter the Bundestag in 2021.

Of course the march of events would always cause problems for the likes of the AfD. The crises of the 2010s would eventually fall back and their ability to capitalise upon them would fade. But still, that they have no coherent narrative to address the pandemic says much about their understanding and engagement with reality. This doesn’t mean the AfD isn’t a dangerous outfit. Anything but, and perhaps it might split over the part expulsion of one of its leading members. Perhaps that will weaken it. But the fact that the CDU has bounced back and the AfD is in retreat says much about political dynamics at this point.

And what of the broader picture? Check out the polling here. The SPD is on a truly dismal 14%. Die Linke on only 7.5% and it is Grune who are touching 20%.


1. GregT - June 1, 2020

Depressing Die Linke cant get out of their ghetto box despite the historic collapse of the SPD vote . No one factor, but it is a worrying trend worldwide where Leninist tradition Left has been only being able to get so far and stop . Even though in this case most of the Leninism was long buried (and it was the defection of the SPD left anyhow and defacto that in the East which gave them the initial boost) . The merely aspiration Open Borders policy (among other things) has lost them a lot of old support (even in Saarland in the West) and they have been eclipsed by the Greens among the youth vote. Not just fallen between stools but lost in their own sub culture with most energy apparently expended in internal arguments . A fascinating place for political addicts with it’s tendencies and sub- tendencies, and endless dry humour to depressing articles in the party outlets like the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation and the old Berlin paper Neues Deutschland. On the bright side, nice that it’s a ‘Democratic socialist’ life boat for posterity (if seemingly full of upper middle class oddballs as is typical of the modern left) , if only they could escape the ghetto. Articles are 6 months to over a year out of date for what it’s worth . Both sources can be wonky, but Jacobin more in depth


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