The Corner

Not For Polite Discussion

One of the characteristic debating conceits of continental Europe’s Europhile establishment is that there can be no “respectable” alternative to the project of “ever closer union.” No matter how bad the destruction some aspects of that project have left in their wake, the only alternative that can be considered is more of the same, and faster.

Open Europe reports:

Speaking in Washington yesterday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble described Germany’s anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland as a party that “puts Germany to shame”.

This sort of talk from Schäuble, an able politician who long since transferred his loyalties from Berlin to Brussels (while doubtless persuading himself that there was no conflict between the two), is not unexpected. He has previously compared the rapid rise of the AfD (a right-of center party that is opposed to the single currency, but not the EU) with that of the rise of a German neo-Nazi party that enjoyed a moment or two of minor electoral success in the 1990s, a comment that the AfD’s leader rightly described as “below the belt.”

Open Europe reports that not all Schäuble’s colleagues were pleased to hear the AfD described as a “shame”:

Some fellow CDU politicians have warned against attacking the AfD in such terms. The party’s vice-chairman Christian Bäumler argued, “The vilification of political opponents does not help to win over voters.”

Maybe, maybe not, Pushing subjects off-limits can be an effective way of “winning” the argument (as Europe’s supporters of mass immigration know only too well). The Europhile consensus of the modern German establishment has not only stifled what could have been a valuable debate, but has revealed a hole in German democracy that the AfD is, to its credit, beginning to fill. Schäuble’s venomous and hysterical reaction not only suggests that he is not so sure of his intellectual ground as he would like to be, but reveals a contempt for open democratic debate disappointing in such a prominent German politician.

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