The parliamentary elections that took place in two federal states of Germany (Saxony and Brandenburg) provoked a strange reaction both in the FRG and in the West as a whole: on the one hand, nervous-alarmist exclamations, and on the other, a frankly lightened sigh and even some joy.
The voting results fit into the stable trend of recent years.
“Alternative for Germany” greatly improved the results, getting the second place in both regions. In Saxony, it almost tripled its position (it gained 9.7 percent in the last election, 27 in the current election), and almost doubled in Brandenburg (it was 12, it became 23.7 percent).
The ruling parties continued to lose popularity. In Saxony, the CDU scored 32.1 percent (minus 7.3), and in Brandenburg the SPD dropped to 26.2 (minus 5.7).
The answer to the question “why should the authorities and the rest of the political mainstream rejoice?” Is very simple: they were afraid that everything would be even worse.
Opinion polls in recent weeks have indicated Alternatius’s serious chances of winning. Of course, even if the party had won first place, this would not have helped in the least degree to stand at the head of the respective lands. In any case, the AdG would not have received the number of votes necessary for the independent formation of governments, and other parties categorically rejected the possibility of a coalition with “ultra-right populists” even before the elections.
In general, the dominant position of the CDU and the SPD was not in danger.
Another thing is that the victory of AdG would become a very unpleasant precedent, symbolizing the aggravation of the crisis of the entire party-political system of Germany and its transition to a new level. So the remaining leadership was a real gift for the CDU and the SPD and brought their leaders incredible relief, despite the need to form coalition governments.
As for the disturbing opinions and predictions about the ongoing offensive of the populist radicals on Western democracy, the story is more interesting. It’s clear that Russia is to blame for everything, but Western analysts are now actively talking about a phenomenon that goes far beyond the “hands of the Kremlin” that has got its teeth on edge. Rather, it is revealed that Moscow’s influence is much deeper than previously thought.
After the election, key Western media (CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and so on) drew attention to the gap between West and East Germany.
After the unification of the country in 1990, the bias between the former GDR and the FRG in various fields has long been the focus of attention of experts in the field of politics and economics.
The most painful are socio-economic issues. In the East, most significant indicators, including the level of population incomes, unemployment, and regional development, are noticeably worse. Informal discrimination against people from the former GDR is also noted. In Saxony, two-thirds of voters say they feel like “second-class citizens.”
Nevertheless, in recent years, the West has more often focused on the gradual smoothing of problems. Angela Merkel became the clearest example of the fact that a former citizen of the GDR can reach any heights in a united Germany and the country has become a model of successfully overcoming contradictions and integrating previously scattered parts into a single whole.
However, mantras and conspiracies did not help. They again remembered the split, and now also in the political aspect.
In East Germany, the popularity of ADH is noticeably higher than in the west of the country. The current success of the party in the two federal states that were part of the GDR, once again confirmed this. In addition, experts note that there the “Alternative” is even more radical, its supporters are not embarrassed by their views and even actively display them in “toxic” (quoted from an article in The New York Times) anti-immigrant speeches.
At the same time, many people acknowledge that Merkel’s migration policy is also dissatisfied in the west of the country, they just talk less about it there, and the “indecent” factor of AdG affects the level of party support. The population of eastern lands is not afraid and does not hesitate to express their own views, and this leads experts to a standstill: what to do with a community that does not want to play by the rules of political correctness?
Of course, the Germans, even the Eastern ones, are not Russian, and there can be no meaningful discussions about their slavish, authoritarian and xenophobic nature in the Western media. Everything is limited by an accurate statement that the population of the former GDR is seriously different from West German fellow citizens, and by expressing concern about the consequences for the entire state-political system of Germany.
Almost 30 years after the liquidation of the GDR, its legacy becomes a significant factor for German politics and the state again. Probably, this is exactly what the German proverb looks like about the “shot into the past from a rifle”, which returns with a shot from a cannon.