by Boaz Bismuth
The results from Sunday's election in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern were a slap in the face for the chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel dreams of being elected to a fourth term next fall. The most popular leader in Europe has -- or more accurately, had -- every reason to dream. Until the immigrants started to arrive. Until the Germans grew angry, which obviously made them angry voters. Merkel welcomed the refugees from Syria as if she was Mother Theresa. But there was only one Mother Theresa.
The results from Sunday's election in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern were a slap in the face for the chancellor. This is her home state, an area that was part of the former east Germany. Merkel's Christian Democratic Union came in third place after the Social Democratic Party, which swept up 30.5% of the vote, and even worse, the new extreme-right party, Alternative for Germany, which won more than 21% of the vote and is gaining momentum after declaring war on immigrants.
The fact that this party came in second should be a warning. Europe might not like Islamists, but it should be no less wary of the extreme Right, in Germany in particular. It's caught between a rock and a hard place.
Europe is waking up, but on the wrong side. Europeans are frightened of the influx of immigrants, some of whom do not respect Europe's secular, or even Christian, character. Some of the immigrants belong to the Islamic State group or al-Qaida. Europe should have realized the dangers when terrorist attacks and violence were taking place.
But in the name of morality, it opened its gates. That was a mistake. The extreme Right was lurking in the shadows. It realized what the conventional parties did not: that Europeans are scared. The results can be seen in the burkini scandal in France and an impressive showing for the extreme Right in Germany. This isn't what we'd hoped for. This isn't the way to fight terrorism. This isn't the way to fight radical Islam. This isn't the way to fight anyone who doesn't respect the laws of the state.
A year ago, Germany was a "role model." The refugees came from Syria, Iraq, the African coast, and Afghanistan by the thousands. Under Merkel, Germany welcomed them. The slogan was "We Will Succeed." But Germans are startled at the sheer numbers: Over 1.1 million refugees arrived in the space of 18 months. Germans are worried not only about the economic ramifications but also terrorist attacks. Jihad, as well as refugees, has reached Europe's doorstep. The past few months have seen a number of incidents in Germany that did not provide residents with a sense of safety.
Merkel is paying the price for her liberal immigration policy. A year ago, the media loved to point out the Germans' friendliness toward the waves of refugees. That was an initial response, and not universal. This time, Merkel didn't take the long view. She satisfied the media, political correctness, and morality. She just didn't understand that her policy was serving the interests of the extreme Right.
Chancellor Merkel is deserving of accolades. Since she first entered office in November 2005, she has racked up achievements in many fields. "The telephone chancellor" earned worldwide support. She turned Germany into a place that was the envy of many, where people even dreamed of living.
Maybe this is where the problem lies. Some people who shouldn't have come did. The results of the German election aren't really a surprise. All the analysts and predictions pointed to a sharp drop for Merkel's party. The people who voted on Sunday comprise a mere 2% of the voters in next year's general election. There is still time to fix things. But to do that, the conventional political parties in Europe, the ones that in France are termed "republican," must not leave the field to the extreme Right.
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