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German Voters Shake Up the Elites


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Will Angela Merkel respond to voters’ concerns or keep ignoring them?

John Fund

September 24, 2017


German chancellor Angela Merkel has paid a steep price for her controversial 2015 decision to let in millions of people fleeing Middle Eastern and African countries.

Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, came in first in Sunday’s elections, but its 33 percent haul was its worst result since the party’s founding in 1945, at the end of WWII. (The opposition Social Democrats also turned in their worst post-war result.)

Merkel’s policies on refugees and, in particular, her poor record on assimilation of migrants led 1.1 million of her party’s 2013 voters to flee to the nationalist Alternative for Germany, which won a stunning 13 percent of the vote. Merkel’s failure to stand up for free-market policies caused an additional 1.3 million of her party’s previous voters to plump for the pro-market Free Democrats, who doubled their 2013 vote and reentered parliament.

The big news out of the election is that Merkel is now weakened and will probably have to take on the odd couple of the Free Democrats and the left-wing Greens to form a government. She has ruled out having any alliance with Alternative for Germany, which polite society in Germany brands as anti-democratic, racist, and xenophobic. Its political opponents tar it with even worse names. Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Cem Özdemir, co-leaders of the Green party, used their post-election speeches to tell supporters that there were “again Nazis in parliament.”






Four graphics that explain how a far-right party won third place in Germany

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The German Question, Again

Steven Hayward

September 27, 2017


It is a truism of economics and political science that “institutions matter.” Just ask Hillary Clinton about the electoral college, for example.

Right now we are seeing an object lesson in the hazards of institutional design of parliamentary government playing out in Germany. Angela Merkel is the Theresa May of the continent, a person who ought to be fatally weakened by the election result. Check out this chart of the party share of the vote from the last election to this one:




It is interesting that the same people who complain that Trump is president while having won only 46 percent of the popular vote in the U.S. generally have nothing to say about the fact that Merkel’s party only won 33 percent of the vote. Two-thirds of Germans prefer someone else to be chancellor, yet the major media continue to portray Merkel as a colossus bestriding Europe. To the contrary, this result is a sign of the continuing loss of public support for the traditional ruling parties in Europe’s leading democracies (see: France, Brexit, Italy, etc). One wonders what the result might be if Germany used the French system of electing their chief executive separately from the legislature, and there was a runoff election.



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