Europe has never been as committed to democracy as the United States. Its elites let people vote, but some issues they are not willing to allow to be decided by the masses. Thus, at quite an early stage, European liberals decided that immigration was too explosive an issue to be committed to the democratic process. Europeans were going to get mass immigration whether they wanted it or not, and anyone with reservations about that decision was deemed part of the “far right.”
This stratagem has mostly succeeded, at least temporarily. Few if any mainstream parties have been willing to oppose, or even question, mass non-European immigration. This left the large number of Europeans who wanted their countries to remain more or less as they have been unrepresented, except by upstart parties that may or may not be “far right” on any issue other than immigration. The danger, obviously, is that by consigning the immigration issue to the “far right,” Europe’s elites may inadvertently, and needlessly, strengthen the otherwise insignificant elements that are, actually, far right.
In Germany, no mainstream party has been willing to stand up to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s importation of nearly a million immigrants and refugees, nearly all Muslims. So opposition has come from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which was founded in 2013 as a Euro-skeptic party, but now has taken on the immigration issue. Germany’s national election took place today, and the main story line is AfD’s strong showing:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term Sunday, but now faces the tricky prospect of forming a coalition with two disparate new partners after voters weakened her conservatives and a nationalist, anti-migrant party surged into parliament.
Merkel’s center-left challenger, Martin Schulz, conceded that his Social Democrats had suffered a “crushing election defeat,” with projections showing the party’s worst performance in post-World War II Germany.
That’s a good thing.
The biggest winner was the four-year-old Alternative for Germany, or AfD. It finished third after a campaign that centered on shrill criticism of Merkel and her decision in 2015 to allow large numbers of migrants into Germany, but also harnessed wider discontent with established politicians.
AfD got 13% of the vote. Germany’s “discontent with established politicians” was reflected in the fact that both Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats saw their vote totals decline substantially.
So is AfD really a far right party? The left-wing BBC bitterly opposes anti-immigration parties like AfD and tries to put the party in a bad light, for the most part unsuccessfully:
AfD also adopted some of Pegida’s anti-establishment rhetoric, for example the slogan “Lügenpresse” (“lying press”), which has echoes of the Nazi era.
Apparently you can’t question the establishment press without being a Nazi. Some American liberals say the same thing, but no one believes them.
Germany must reintroduce permanent border controls and the EU’s external borders must be “completely shut”, AfD says. …
AfD argues that Germany must set up a new border police force. Frauke Petry, who stepped aside from the AfD leadership earlier this year, even said German police should “if necessary” shoot at migrants seeking to enter the country illegally.
Emphasis in original. This tells us what we already knew, that AfD is anti-immigration. The BBC evidently considers the idea of shooting at people trying illegally to enter Germany shocking. But if people insist on entering a country despite that country’s laws, isn’t shooting them “if necessary” the last resort? Isn’t that why border guards are pretty much always armed? A country whose border guards could do no more than wave at foreigners and implore them not to enter the country would not–to put it mildly–have secure borders.
AfD says that “Islam does not belong to Germany.” More specifically, the party’s manifesto says:
That statement may be controversial, but it is hardly radical, and evidently a great many Germans agree with it. More:
AfD would ban foreign funding of mosques in Germany, ban the burka (full-body veil) and the Muslim call to prayer, and put all imams through a state vetting procedure.
“Moderate” Muslims who accept integration are “valued members of society”, the programme says. But it argues that multiculturalism does not work.
Those proposals wouldn’t fly in the U.S., but they cannot fairly be considered extreme. AfD has, however, had some unsavory moments unrelated to immigration:
Mr Gauland also drew criticism for declaring that Germans should be “proud” of their soldiers in both world wars. While SS units were notorious for German atrocities in World War Two, the regular armed forces also committed many war crimes.
Earlier another top AfD politician, Björn Höcke, caused outrage by condemning the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. He told supporters that Germans were the “only people in the world who planted a memorial of shame in the heart of their capital”.
Whether these few comments by AfD leaders are symptomatic of an underlying neo-Nazi tendency, I don’t know. To the extent that they may be, it illustrates the peril of suppressing and stigmatizing discussion of Germany’s immigration policies–which are, in my view, extreme and ill-advised. Doing so inevitably drives voters who are opposed to mass Islamic immigration into the arms of the only political leaders who are willing to give voice to their concerns.