Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Extreme Left gains in Germany / paradoxical German panic over “Right” gains

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A constant annoyance, and a sign of a deep underlying problem with public perception, is the treatment of the Left* and the “Right”** in Germany, manifested e.g. in widely different rules and reporting, attempts to ban “Right” (real or alleged) extremist parties while tolerating equivalent or worse Left extremist parties, or the constant Leftist complaint about a “Rechtsruck”*** of society, public opinion, politics, whatnot.

*Note that the German Left corresponds roughly to the U.S. “Old Left”, with a lesser (but growing) emphasis on e.g. PC issues and a greater (but diminishing) on economic issues. Also note that the German Left is Left of the U.S. Left.

**While I disapprove of the Left–Right scale in general, for a number of reasons, the concept of “Right” is almost impossible through being too heterogeneous, which is why I put it in quotation marks. I note in particular that the “extreme Right” is not an extremer version of the “regular” “Right”, but is almost solely defined (by its enemies …) based on positions regarding e.g. immigration. Often the alleged “extreme Right” has more in common with the Left than with the rest of the “Right”, when it comes to other issues.

**Approximately, “[sudden?] move to the Right”.

This “Rechtsruck” label is applied to any and all change away from the opinions the Left declares that people should have and grossly ignores that such a move is often* nothing more than a move towards sanity from the extreme Leftist opinions and politics that are so common in Germany. A highly Leftist populist Social-Democrat party is currently a part of the government and has been involved in roughly half all historical democratically elected governments in German history. Die Linke, Leftist extremist/populist and a direct descendant of SED, the dictatorial Communist rulers of East Germany, are represented in parliament. MLPD, an extreme Left and Marxist-Leninist party, is regularly and openly calling for revolution and the ban of other parties.

*The question is made more complicated by the uselessness of the term “Right” (cf. above). Note that “Rechtsruck” is not applied just to e.g. immigration policy, but also to e.g. taxation, union issues, and similar.

A good example (and the impulse for this text): Yesterday, there was an election to the state parliament of Thüringen (Thuringia; a state within the German federation). The aforementioned Die Linke arose as the largest individual party, with almost a third of the votes, and will likely* become the core of the next state government. This after already having reached number two in the last election (2014), which resulted in it being a part of the ruling coalition, joined by the Social-Democrats and the “Green” party.

*It will be impossible to say for sure before the various negotiations that will follow have been concluded. Note that Germany has a multi-party system, which by its nature leads to different consideration and complications that the two-party system of the U.S. Ditto the difference in parliamentary approach, where Germany is closer to the British Westminster system. In 2019, six parties made state parliament; in 2014, five.

In any sane world, this would have been a considerable cause for concern. But, what do I find, as I go looking for suitable references? That we now have an anti-“Right” panic! [1]*, because AfD, a migration critical party, often (rightly or wrongly) labeled as extreme or populist “Right”, managed to become the second largest party. Still, in the current Germany, it is a lesser evil than Die Linke, it has very little chance of joining any government arising from this election, and its success, I suspect, reflects the divide** between the politicians and the people more than it does any “Rechtsruck”. In contrast, the success of Die Linke has a strong component of reactionary Leftist opinions, as shown e.g. by how Thüringen was a part of the old East Germany and how Die Linke has a long history of doing better in the “East” than in the “West”. It is true that the absolute change pro-AfD is considerably larger (cf. footnote), but it is less dire both in its immediate consequences and its implications about opinions (again, cf. footnote). Moreover, AfD remains smaller than Die Linke by a considerable margin.

*I found this link on “Spiegel Online”, but it lands on another site. I am an uncertain about its exact relation to “Spiegel Online”. However, other site-internal sources include e.g. [2], where more traditional “Right” and “Center” parties are called to “ihrer staatspolitischen Verantwortung gerecht werden” (“take their political responsibility”) by keeping Die Linke, a natural political archenemy!, in power. [3] collects opinions from other news sources under the title “Der Schock ist groß” (“The chock is great”): Most of this chock seems to be directed against AfD. (Disclaimer: I have only skimmed through the collection of opinions.)

**Apart from the normal issues in this area, we have the repeated “great coalitions” between Conservatives (CDU/CSU) and Social-Democrats, especially on the federal level. We can indeed see that the 12.8 percentage-point increase for AfD corresponds well with the 11.7 percentage-point drop of CDU—two changes that are each of roughly the same size as the sum of all other changes for all other parties. (For instance, Die Linke +2.8, SPD -4.2. While a similar effect might very well be present between those two parties, it is a lot smaller and more likely to reflect a natural drift of voters according to what party best matches opinions.)

Again: Die Linke has almost a third of the vote—a party corresponding not the U.S. Democrats but to the extreme Left sub-sections of the U.S. Democrats, or possibly even ranging too far left to be willing participants even in the Democrat party. In this situation, there are complaints about “Right”-wing gains!

Indeed, even the possibility of a CDU–Die Linke coalition has been broached, as if the GOP would form a coalition government with someone Left of Bernie Sanders.

Note on sources: I have additionally drawn on pages from the German Wikipedia for the elections in 2019 and 2014.

Excursion on “democracy”:
In Germany, the word “democracy” (and its variations) is increasingly used to denote “having the correct opinions” (or similar), e.g. in that banning a “Right” wing party, censoring members of the “Right”, etc., is seen as being democratic, while the “Right” is considered anti-democratic based on e.g. immigration critical ideas (as opposed to attempts to restrict civic rights* or attempts to ban other parties**). Indeed, [1] complains that German schools spend more time on explaining words like “gross” and “net” than on explaining “democracy”. In this, the author might well address a genuine problem, but the problem is to the disadvantage of e.g. the AfD and to the advantage of the Leftist parties, because attempts to curtail democracy, proof of a lacking understanding of democracy, and so on, is predominantly a problem with the Left in Germany.

*As e.g. CDU and its Bavarian sister CSU has repeatedly attempted with regard to e.g. computer privacy.

**As the Leftist parties are quite fond of doing.


Written by michaeleriksson

October 28, 2019 at 11:22 pm

5 Responses

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  1. […] It is also notable that many true “unwords” have gone without attack, e.g. the atrocious “NGO”, an untranslated adoption of the already misleading and idiotic English abbreviation (and unabbreviated term), and the ever recurring “Rechtsruck”. […]

  2. […] too” movement (cf. [3], [4], [5], [6], [7] ), the current German “Rechtsruck” panic (cf. e.g. [8]), or, further back, the alleged college rape-epidemic, the alleged satanist child-abusers, […]

  3. […] that, on paper, should be greater enemies than the U.S. Republican and Democrat parties. (Cf. e.g. [1], […]

  4. […] about Right(!)wing extremism has increased in lockstep. Note e.g. an earlier discussion on far Left gains in the state of Thüringen, where the old-but-rebranded DDR communist party is the main and […]

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