Arnon Grunberg



On alliances and dying - Dirk Kurbjuweit in Der Spiegel:

'What happened in Thuringia this week -- where a center-right politician was elected governor with the help of the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party -- was a milestone for the AfD. It was the first time the party, which has been criticized for being extremist and at times openly anti-Semitic, has helped to elect the leader of a state government.

The election was a sign of the gradual decay of German democracy, even if a worst-case scenario appears to have been averted. Members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had long refused to engage in any way with the AfD, but in Thuringia, members of the CDU and those of another center-right party, the Free Democrats (FDP), were willing to accept the possibility that one of their candidates would be elected with votes from the AfD. The only thing that slammed the brakes on this madness was when party leaders in Berlin -- eventually -- intervened.

What remains is the embarrassment for mainstream conservatives, especially for CDU and FDP leaders in Berlin, who didn't intervene soon enough. What remains is the fact that conservatives in Thuringia allowed themselves to be seduced by the AfD. What remains is a triumph for Björn Höcke, the right-wing extremist state leader of the AfD in Thuringia, who made those on the center-right look like fools. What remains is the damage caused to liberal democracy.

Every new attrition chips away at our democratic system. To stop this, what happened in Thuringia must be seen as a warning shot, a harbinger.'


'Democracy is still alive in the U.S., but it has been damaged by the Republicans' alliance with Donald Trump. Many senators are hoping to remain in power with Trump's help, so they follow him unconditionally, even in the face of the blatant lie that he didn't abuse the powers of his office.

The dimensions are considerably smaller in Thuringia, but the principle is the same. Conservative politicians, particularly those in the CDU, have long entertained the idea of using the AfD to gain power. In the recent vote in Thuringia's state parliament, the CDU and the FDP expressed their willingness to enter into an implicit alliance with Höcke and the other right-wing populists. There is no doubt this alliance would have been a fateful one.

Center-right politicians often erroneously believe that their only enemy is on the left. Many in the CDU and FDP certainly see it this way. In order to prevent Bodo Ramelow, the Left Party's incumbent candidate for governor, from re-election, the conservatives sided with a far-right extremist.

In reality, the center-right should be just as concerned about the far-right end of the spectrum, if not more. Germany's Nazi past makes any flirtation with the far-right taboo. The left, on the other hand, is no longer a threat to liberal democracy, and this is especially true for Bodo Ramelow. Höcke, however, is a man who violates this taboo day in and day out.'

Read the article here.

I don't think democracy in Germany is dying, the response to what happened in Thüringen was not perfect, but was this response was, also because of the public outrage, at last clear and principled. If the Republican Party would have taken a similar approach to Trump many disasters would have been averted, but alas, the average politician in the US, and in many other countries, has no historical consciousness.

And Der Spiegel is right, CDU should treat Die Linke as a possible partner, the same way the party treats Die Grünen and SPD.

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