Angela Merkel Odd Andersen/Getty Images

Germany’s Grave New World

The far-right Alternative for Germany is now the third-largest bloc in the Bundestag and the second-largest party in the states comprising the former East Germany. For the sake of German democracy itself, the parties that still stand for democratic values must take seriously their responsibility to form a new government.

BERLIN – The outcome of Germany’s federal election on Sunday was unexpected and disturbing, at least by German standards. The two main parties, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), along with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), were punished at the ballot box, after having governed as a grand coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel for the past four years.

The SPD’s performance was its worst in any federal election since the Federal Republic’s first, in 1949. Similarly, the CDU/CSU alliance turned in its second-worst showing since 1949, and the CSU suffered the worst federal-election loss in its history. This is particularly important, given that Bavaria will hold state-level elections next year.

All told, the election was a landslide against Merkel’s grand coalition. And, to a large extent, it can be seen as a protest vote against Merkel herself. Internationally, she is appreciated as an effective stateswoman and the guarantor of stability and moral authority in the West. But at home, that is clearly no longer the case.

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