The German federal election is set to take place on September 24, 2017 and German citizens will be heading to the polls. German elections are different than other countries because it’s done by a system called “proportional representation.” This means that voters cast two ballots: one for their district representative and another for the party they want to represent them in parliament. The candidate with the most votes from each party becomes a member of Parliament.
The outcome of the election will determine which parties are in Parliament and therefore who becomes chancellor. There are many political parties running in this election, but only five have a realistic chance at making it into Parliament. The current ruling party is the CDU/CSU which currently holds 246 out of 598 seats. This means that to maintain their majority they need to win fractionally over half of the votes in order for Merkel remain chancellor.
Here’s an overview of how likely each party is to make it into Parliament:
Current ruling party (CDU/CSU): 246 seats (-5) – 47% chance at maintaining majority The Social Democratic Party (SPD) who was once Merkel’s coalition partner has suffered low approval ratings due to the way they handled the financial crisis. They appear to be losing more voters every week, and currently have 147 seats (-40) – 22% chance at a majority Liberal Party (FDP): 98 (+35) – 17% chance at a majority The Green Party (Die Grünen): 64 (-2) – Not likely to make it into Parliament Alternative For Germany (AfD): 92 (+93) – Almost guaranteed to make it into Parliament
The party most likely to win the election is “Alternative for Germany” which is a right wing political party. In fact, all polling shows they will either come in first or second with about 30%-34%. Their platform centers around anti-immigration, anti-EU, and right wing nationalism.
If they win the German election it will be without doubt due to Angela Merkel’s policies in regards to refugees. Throughout 2016 alone an estimated 1 million refugees entered Germany which has led AfD party members to believe that there is a war being waged against Germans by foreigners who refuse to assimilate into society. Due to this narrative Merkel has lost support not only within her own party but from the people of Germany as well. When she announced her intention to continue with refugee quotas for 2017 AfD supporters rejoiced on social media using hashtags like #Merkelmussweg (Merkel Must Go) and #AfDwirkt (AfD at Work).
Germans to determine who will become chancellor after Merkel
Almost immediately following this announcement the AfD released a campaign video which claims that Germany has changed since Merkel’s decision to allow one million people in. The narrator says, “Since the beginning of the refugee crisis our country is changing” and shows footage of foreigners who do not appear to be like most Germans (1:41-2:00). The message is clear; these migrants are ruining German society by refusing to assimilate. Despite only releasing the video on September 3 it has already racked up over two million views on Facebook with many comments claiming that this is what they’ve been waiting for.
The AfD campaign is working hard to capitalize on anti-immigrant fears following news that Germany will take in refugees from Italy and Greece. As a result of the agreement, Germany will take in 800,000 refugees. In addition to this announcement it was revealed that Merkel wanted to triple the number of soldiers working in German intelligence from 3,000 to 10,000.
When AfD supporters heard about this increase they were so outraged by the perceived betrayal by their leader that many have vowed not to vote for her again (if she wins). However, most say they will still support the party because it is the only one with enough influence to save Germany from what they believe is an immigrant takeover.
It’s important to note that AfD members are not only worried about immigrants coming into Germany but also about how immigrants who are already there are refusing to assimilate. They point out that women in head scarves are no longer considered a rarity in the country and claim that their culture (which is “superior” because it’s German) has already been watered down by immigrants who refuse to adopt the values of western society.