Elections on Sunday in Bavaria are changing the German political landscape, right and left of the political spectrum. The evening’s clear winners were the Greens that surged by 10% compared to the 2013 results. From 8,5% in the state elections of 2013, exit polls gave them 19%; later on Sunday, it appeared they were just under 18% (17,8%). That means the Greens rather than the Social Democrats (SPD) are the bigger party of the left in Bavaria. Embarrassingly, the SPD saw its share of the vote drop marginally into single digits (9,6%). Of course, all eyes for weeks focused on the right of the political spectrum. Exit polls were disappointing for both the Free Voters regional protest party and the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD). They both reached double-digits and they outperformed exit polls, Free Voters secured 12% (25 seats) and the AfD 11,5% (24 seats). That is impressive compared to the 4,3% AfD secured in 2013. It is slightly below their electoral influence in … [Read more...] about Bavarian elections change the German political landscape
A year after surging into parliament, lawmakers from the far-right AfD party have upended the normally staid world of German politics, with provocations and insults now the order of the day in the venerable Bundestag. Taking up 92 seats in the lower house of parliament, the country's largest opposition party uses every chance it gets to rail against immigration, Islam and especially Chancellor Angela Merkel. The combative rhetoric, some of it unthinkable until a few years ago, has at times stunned seasoned lawmakers. But the tactic appears to be paying off. Recent surveys suggest the AfD would garner 18 percent of votes if elections were held now, second only to Merkel's centre-right CDU, itself weakened by the rise of the far right. "The parliamentary culture is now more confrontational," said Paul Nolte, a history professor at the Free University of Berlin. "The AfD is not considered a normal party, and in the Bundestag it doesn't act like a normal party," he told AFP. - 'New era' - … [Read more...] about One year on, far right has transformed German politics
Picture: AFP Frankfurt. European stock markets recovered Tuesday as political worries eased in Germany, but shares in Swiss mining operation Glencore saw a meltdown on news of a US legal probe over its global activities, reported AFP. Meanwhile, US stocks finished a holiday-shortened session lower with Wall Street equities fluctuating with oil prices. Europe's benchmark indices were up by between half a percent and one percent at the close. "European markets are in rebound mode... as an apparent resolution to the German political impasse has helped dispel much of the trade war anxiety that was evident throughout Asia," noted Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG trading group. In high-stakes crisis talks overnight, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had put to rest a dangerous row with her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer that had threatened the survival of her fragile coalition government. "News that Merkel is safe and the fragile German coalition will live to see … [Read more...] about AFP: European stocks recover as German political tensions ease
Who are the main players? Horst Seehofer, the 68-year-old leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and federal Interior Minister. Seehofer is about to turn 69 and has been head of the CSU for a decade. Once seen as the saviour of the Bavarian party, he is now being challenged by Markus Söder, a hardliner 17 years his junior, who wants to take over the party's leadership. Angela Merkel, Chancellor since 2005 and head of the Christian Democrats (CDU). She is Seehofer’s boss but the two have never had an easy relationship. He already resigned from a position in her team in 2004 when the two had a falling out over health insurance policies. What is the argument about? Seehofer wants to be able to turn asylum seekers back at the German border if they have already been registered in another European country. Border police would check the people’s fingerprints against a Europe-wide database. If they came up as registered in another country, the police could refuse … [Read more...] about What you need to know about the conflict paralyzing German politics
What is the problem? Germany's conservative parties are a little like two crime families who work together as long as one stays off the other's turf. This has worked out pretty well over several decades as the CSU have sat in power in Munich, while the CDU dominated politics on the federal level. There were unwritten rules to their collaboration though. Whereas the mafia (at least in the films) drew a line at bringing drugs into the country, the unspoken code of German conservative politics was: no immigrants (or at least, not too many). When Angela Merkel decided not to close the borders as thousands of refugees crossed the border in 2015 she broke this rule. Ever since then the ageing boss of the CSU, Horst Seehofer, has been seething. Throw into the mix a hot-headed upstart who is challenging Seehofer's grip on power in the CSU and you not only have the ingredients for a ropy Hollywood movie, but also for real-life German politics. Now Interior Minister, Seehofer has loudly … [Read more...] about Analysis: Is one man about to collapse German politics as we know it?