Opinion by Prince Michael of Lichtenstein:
The CDU/CSU under Chancellor Angela Merkel has again emerged from Sunday’s general election as Germany’s strongest party. The victory looks more like a crushing defeat, however, as its 33 percent support in the early returns would be the party’s worst result since 1949. The CDU/CSU’s partner in the grand coalition, the Social Democrats, fared just as poorly, polling 20.5 percent, the lowest in their postwar history.
….The AfD was founded in 2012 by a group of free-market economists critical of the way the euro area handled its fiscal crisis. While the original party leadership was very sensible and ideologically neutral, Ms. Merkel immediately branded them as right-wingers. As a result, the original founders were ousted, and the AfD turned rather nationalistic. Now, with 12.6 percent of the vote, it will be the third-largest party in parliament.
….The AfD’s success does not mean that Germans have become nationalistic, populist or antidemocratic. It is a sign of popular frustration with the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats. Both parties have abandoned their principles in favor of expediency, as became painfully obvious during the Merkel-Schulz debate. The Christian Democrats have abandoned Christians, and the Social Democrats have betrayed working people, both blue-collar and white-collar.
The AfD, with its 12.6 percent support, poses no threat to democracy. It can rather be seen as an opportunity to make Germany’s parties stick to their principles. The real danger to German democracy and to the rule of law is the lack of courage, vision and statesmanship in the country’s two establishment parties.