Bristling Brock speaks out...


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Mrs Merkel has, as predicted, returned as the German Chancellor - but not quite as she might have wished.  Now without a solid coalition partner she has to make new alliances with factions that are not entirely her cup of tea.  And, of course, the elephant in the room is the extraordinary electoral gains made by the right wing AfD.

In some respects, the AfD have mirrored the sentiments that the old UKIP in Britain campaigned on during the 2015 election - a concern over a loss of sovereign control, external intervention (EU), cultural dilution and, by association, the challenges of mass immigration.  Germany's gremlin was, of course, actually courted by Mrs Merkel in 2015 when she opened the door to a million or more immigrants, the majority of whom, it just so happened, were Moslem.  And that's the AfD's platform - Germany for the Germans and a prioritisation of German culture over immigrant culture, a sort of bash on the head for obsessive political correctness.

Many Germans will be in a quandary today.  For over seventy years the electorate has favoured (or was it manoeuvred ?) a pacifist, non-interventionist way of governing themselves that was designed to purge their historical 'guilt' in instigating two world wars.  And that has been largely successful until yesterday, the German constitution having been deliberately modified to codify its pacifist intent.  Yet with the AfD's electoral gains it shows that that formula isn't quite as universally acceptable as it used to be and a right of centre movement (some would bluntly say downright extreme right wing) is wooing larger numbers of believers to their way of thinking.  It's happened elsewhere over the years - the US, Britain and France amongst the higher profile cases.  And like any political movement, the ethos of its origins (an anti-EU manifesto) has been lost as it attracts those who have found no political ground elsewhere and the cause takes up a broader, nationalistic theme.

Nationalism is a difficult one to square.  On the one-hand, it is a demonstration of a passion and belief in ones own country - quite laudable in itself - whilst on the other-hand it is a political position that engenders a certain amount of fear and apprehension, particularly so in Germany.  Our own UKIP was branded as a dangerous, mindless and nationalistic party and yet it achieved a good measure of the poll in 2015, not because everyone of those supporters were right-wing zealots but because they believed in some of the realities that the party expressed and exposed about British life and governance.  That, perhaps is the danger to the newcomer on the political scene - that their real message (anti-EU was also UKIP's core policy) is prone to being hi-jacked by the wider, disenfranchised electorate seeking a platform and manipulated in the media to display something else, more sinister.   The same challenge faces the AfD.  Can it really act within the established political groupings of Germany to represent its original core position or will that too fall prey to the extremists who see Draconian measures as the only way to regain national control ?  Already, there are indications that some key members of the party will follow the Draconian route.  For Germany, it's a dangerous gamble, but with seventy or so seats in the Bundestag the AfD now have a political voice (unlike UKIP who with a larger slice of the vote only got a single seat in Britain) and they will undoubtedly make themselves heard.

In France, the dispute with the unions continues and Emmanuel Macron is challenged at every turn.  Before his election you'll recall, he was the great new hope, the new age revolutionary who would make France great again (shades of Trump there...) - but he was also the political newcomer (in terms of party rather than his prior experience) and immediately had to face up to the same challenges talked about above - that not everyone had the same vision as he did and also expected a voice at the high table.

If you look at all this geopolitically you see Britain, France and now Germany all experiencing major challenges to the established order of things.  These are the three most significant power-houses of Europe and they are all engaged in internal wars with different factions and areas of vested interest.  And sitting amidst all of these debates is that simmering fuse of nationalism.  Politically reviled but nevertheless there. 

Watch this space...


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