German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was re-elected for her fourth term as the leader of—arguably—the most powerful country in the European Union. At 63 years old, she becomes only one of three other German chancellors to be re-elected for a fourth term; this adds on to her already impressive list of firsts as she was the first East German Chancellor as well as the first woman to become the Chancellor of Germany. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), in an alliance with the Christian Social Union (CSU) gained 32.9% of the German vote. The CDU and the CSU are both center-right political parties, however the CSU operates only in the southern state of Bavaria. The CDU operates in the other fifteen German states. Although it is the lowest percentage since 1949, Merkel was still able to get the highest percentage of votes and keep her position of Chancellor of Germany.
The second largest political party in Germany also took a hit at the polls as they suffered the greatest loss of parliamentary positions since World War II. Germany’s oldest political party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), got 20.4% of the German vote. These percentages determine how many representatives of each party will be represented in Germany’s Parliament. For example: if 25% of the country chose Party A, 25% of the parliament will be filled with representatives from Party A as a result.
The two largest political parties suffered some of the worst blows in their history with this past election. They are weaker than they ever have been before which subsequently caused by an increase in frustration of the German people with issues like the refugee crisis in 2015 and the destabilization of the Euro. This loss of popularity is also caused by the increase in support of the anti-immigrant, far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD)—formed in 2013. The AfD won 13% of the vote which led many to fear for the unsettling amount of nationalistic sentiments creeping their way into the Bundestag, or the lower German Parliament. Many Germans are concerned about this sudden unearthing of ultra-conservative views as Nazism has come back into the spotlight.
Once election results poured in, Germans went out to protest this surge in ultra-right ideologies. Hundreds of Anti-AfD protesters lined the streets of Germany’s largest cities from Munich to Berlin, from Dresden to Düsseldorf.
The final question that no one knows the answer to is: What does this mean for the future of one of America’s major allies? The answer is no one knows. We do know that populism is alive and thriving in Europe’s most influential countries like Great Britain, France, and Germany. Questions of security and national identity are affecting those countries as well as the refugee crisis puts a heavy burden on the countries who are willing to support people escaping war-torn countries. Germany’s top two political parties are struggling to find their own identity and gain support back to their respective parties. It might seem as if history is up in the air because it is. This resurgence of ideals that brought the Nazis into power frightens the many who understand Hitler’s political party created a downward spiral of the country through only 18.3% of the nation’s votes. The recent elections of Britain, France, the US, and Germany are opening up what we thought were long-healed wounds.