K. Reimann reports from Dresden in eastern Germany:
As we know, yesterday was Election Day in Germany. I knew exactly that, despite my efforts, the AfD was going to win and that Angela Merkel was going to remain in power simply by default. The SPD with Martin Schulz had made no visible attempt at all to introduce themselves and present new ideas here
at all, except for a few sings on lamp posts with things like For Our Children. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing serious. Meanwhile the AfD had posters that covered issues in the news, albeit in a most at least for me revolting manner. We want Bikinis, Not Burkas. Increase the Birthrate, Make Babies, etc. All things that are relevant.
And so, this morning, there was no shock in the least tiny bit. I even forgot to look at the results until later in the morning because for me it was so clear. The one thing that made me saddened me was that Saxony, the part of Germany I live in, was so overwhelmingly pro AfD, and even more specifically, that part of Saxony that includes Dresden. As with other elections, I had to question where all these people were who voted AfD. More than 20%. Not my circle of friends! But still, it didn’t take long to think of people even in my circle (my daughter’s friends’ parents, neighbors, etc) who might have (or even definitely did) voted for AfD. So, I was not in the least tiny bit surprised.
I think that rings true for everyone I have spoked with. Sad, but fully expected results. I am very interested in reading the analyses over the next few days. For one, I think the voter turnout was higher than it had been in a long time. Partly because of people who have been feeling disenfranchised for a long time and feel invigorated by the AfD, but also a number of people who tried to raise their voices for the first time against the right. I believe the Linke had an increase in voters for the fist time in a while. That is definitely new voters who oppose the AfD and want to make themselves know,
and there is no one else around. Like I said above, however, the analyses are not complete yet, and haven’t had the time yet to sit and read up on this.
One thing that is really interesting though is the fact that although the AfD won, the party is in fact a mess. They, unlike other parties in other countries (LePen, Erdogan, LeFarge, Trump, etc.) do not really have a leading figure head and the party is marked by internal squabbling to the point where they all hate each other as much as I do them. They have managed to keep a lid on the worst infighting, but the AfD in Saxony is split between two directions (more right-wing, less right-wing), and just a few hours ago, less than 24 hours after the polls closed, Frauke Petry, the head of the AfD has announced that she is entering the Parliament as an independent because she has too many ideological issues with the AfD. Off to a good start.
For my friends here who are applying for asylum, I think the effects of the vote are not clear to them yet. The government has been making their lives difficult with a, for them, unheard of amount of bureaucracy, but they are busy learning the language, getting homes and getting job training and jobs. They all still have lots of worries about situations back home so they do not feel really comfortable yet. Who knows what changes the elections will bring. I am saddened because after the emotional roller coater of the past 2 years, I was starting to get the feeling that people’s frayed nerves from all the changes were starting to calm down. I am starting to see people clearly not from Germany show up working in bakeries and in small stores and all sorts of deeply German places. Let’s see if the AfD gets people’s xenophobia fired up again.