Friday

20th Jul 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

"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.

Analysis

Will Austria's presidency give EU a populist push?

As Sebastian Kurz's government takes over the helm of EU-policy making for the next six months, Austrian MEPs from opposing sides weigh in on the EU's youngest prime minister's possible influence on the continent's future.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  2. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  3. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs
  4. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's 'Stop Soros' law
  5. EU warns Turkey on anti-terror bill
  6. Report: EU secretly scorns UK's Brexit paper
  7. Hungary: UN treaty could 'inspire millions' of migrants
  8. Nato reacts after Trump disparages Montenegro

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us