The Corner

National Security & Defense

Germany: Hints of Pim Fortuyn?

Mariam Lau, writing in the Financial Times

[Cologne was]  Angela Merkel’s worst nightmare. Having pinned her political future on “showing a friendly face” to those fleeing war and persecution, the chancellor now acknowledges that there might be “questions that go beyond Cologne, such as: are there groups that harbour a contempt for women?”

.. Ascribing cultural traits to specific groups of people has long been taboo in Germany. It was a dark habit that took years to unlearn after the second world war. In the postwar period, sociology always trumped culture when it came to explaining social pathologies such as violence, crime or unemployment.

This is changing. An alliance, of the kind that has existed for some time in the Netherlands and Denmark, has formed between conservatives, feminists and gay rights activists. Kristina Schröder, the former minister for family affairs in Ms Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union party, tweeted: “For far too long, we have overlooked a misogynist attitude among Muslim men.” Meanwhile, the leading feminist Alice Schwarzer wrote: “Once again, I am being accused of racism by the usual suspects” for pointing out that Germans have been “naively importing male violence, sexism and anti-semitism”.

And speaking of antisemitism, The Times of Israel reports:

Two migrants — a Syrian and an Afghan — were arrested in northern Germany Sunday on suspicion of attacking and robbing a French man who was wearing a Jewish skullcap. Police said the 49-year-old was in a waiting room at Puttgarden ferry port Saturday on the island of Fehrman when the two men, saying “Jew” in Arabic, shoved him to the floor.

One incident, but still…

Meanwhile Bild has a new poll out. While it is still highly that Merkel will remain as chancellor after the next election (2017) she won’t be pleased to see that the populist right AfD (a party with which she  has ruled out any dealings)  has more than recovered from a damaging split last year and now stands at 11.5 percent, a score that is the AfD’s highest ever and propels it into third place (after the Social Democrats, Merkel’s coalition partners). That may be a temporary spike, but if it’s not, it may be a harbinger of deeper changes to come on Germany’s right, somewhat analogous perhaps to those seen in its Scandinavian neighbors, where ‘populists’ (broadly defined, and very different from country to country) are now an established part of the landscape. 

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