Saturday

26th May 2018

Merkel warns German parties against populism

German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday (7 September) defended her welcome stance towards refugees and warned parties against engaging in populist tactics after the shocking success of the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in regional elections last weekend.

In her first address to parliament since the vote in her home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Merkel called on all parliamentary parties to unite against AfD, noting that all political groups lost ground to the populists, not just her Christian Democrats (CDU) party.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"A party like the AfD is not only a challenge for the CDU... but a challenge for all of us sitting here," Merkel told MPs.

In Sunday's vote, the CDU went down four percent compared to five years ago with 19 percent of the votes, and fell to third place behind AfD. The AfD, which ran for the first time in the eastern state, ended up with 21 percent of the ballots. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) finished first with 30 percent, but five percent less than five years ago.

In her speech, Merkel tried to rise above the political storm surrounding her open-door refugee policy to project stability and calm.

Following the bruising defeat of her CDU party, calls for a cap on migration and pressure on Merkel to take a U-turn in her refugee policy escalated.

Moderate speech

Merkel warned against giving into populism and tried to defeat AfD by using the same populist techniques to win back voters.

She said she will resist pressure for “seemingly easy solutions that are actually illusory solutions.”

"Politicians like us have a responsibility to moderate our speech," she said.

"If we begin to orientate our speech and acts towards those who are not interested in solutions, we will lose our own direction in the end. If we resist that and stick with the truth, then we will regain what's most important – the trust of the people," she said.

She also added that “scolding the voters achieves nothing”.

Merkel, who is facing a general election a year from now if she decides to seek a fourth term, urged Germans to remain open and embrace change.

"In these times of globalisation, we serve our country best if we’re guided by the values that made us what we are: freedom, security, justice and solidarity," she said.

Merkel on the other hand vowed to strengthen security at home and speed up repatriations of migrants who were denied asylum in Germany.

She also tried to assuage voter concerns about the preservation of Germany's core values, saying that "Germany will remain Germany", despite the increasing number of asylum seekers. More than one million migrants have arrived in the country since last year.

EU dithering aggravated refugee crisis, Merkel says

If EU states, including Germany, had acted earlier and in concert to share burdens and protect external boundaries, the crisis would have been less severe, says the German chancellor.

Under-fire Merkel defends migration policy

The German chancellor sticks by her welcoming policy towards migrants, while a poll suggests more than 50 percent of Germans do not want her to stand for a fourth term in office.

Opinion

Stop the hysteria over Germany's little election

Media and politicians have made a doomsday scenario out of a few thousand far-right votes in an obscure region, instead of dealing with Germany's real problem - social exclusion.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

Opinion

Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach