Friday, September 9, 2016

Nationalism and Anti-Immigrant Policies on the March Across Europe

Angela Merkel just lost her home state in regional parliamentary election, a warm-up for next year’s general election. Her party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), came in third in the voting after the rapidly rising far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) Party. The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) led with 30 percent, but in general, parties of left also lost votes from the previous election.

One million refugees in 2015 have broken the center-right’s solidarity and very possibly ended Ms. Merkel’s ambition for a fourth term (in office since 2005). Her policies on the refugee crises was the salient topic reflected in her approval ratings, which is at a five-year low (45%).

Of course, Germany is hardly the only country seeing a surge of nationalism and anti-immigration politics. Great Britain has a new prime minister due to David Cameron’s loss of the Brexit vote and France’s Hollande is so weak in the polls that his re-election, or even running, is doubted. His nemesis, Marine Le Pen (The National Front), is one of the most nationalistic, anti-immigrant and anti-EU in Europe. And, although it’s not clear the French electoral system will let her get to the presidency in next year’s elections, the politicians running, especially Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, sound like her.

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