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Home / World / The decline of the political mainstream in Germany has a surprise winner: a pro-migrant party

The decline of the political mainstream in Germany has a surprise winner: a pro-migrant party



The Green Party, which stands for open borders, posted record profits in two state elections this month to claim second place. In national opinion polls, it fluctuates by 20% and is thus more than twice as high in the parliamentary elections of last year.

The rise of the Greens indicates that in the rapid erosion of the two largest German parties – woman. Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and the Center-Left Social Democratic Party (SPD) – as the populist tides that other Western democracies have overcome.

Merkel's recent decision to step down as CDU chief could open the door to a change of government in Germany in the coming months. Due to increasing popularity, the Greens could play the role of Königsmacher in forming a new governing coalition.

Kai Klose, the leader of the Greens in Hesse, is still stunned that his party in the city of Kassel, a SPD stronghold, could win a majority. Across the state, the Greens reached 1

9.8%, narrowly defeated the SPD and finished second behind the Chancellor Party.

Mr. Klose Explanation: The voters had enough of the CDU and the SPD, bitter rivals for most of the post-war German history, but since 2005 and 2009 and again since 2013 ruled jointly in Berlin. While some opt for the anti-immigration alternative for Germany or AfD, others leave the big parties for the smaller centrist alternative and express both their opposition to mainstream and right-wing populism.

"They wanted to send a signal with their voices against the government in Berlin and against pressure from the right," said Mr. Klose.

The trend is an acceleration of an older development that has fragmented Germany's political landscape, first with the emergence of the Greens, then with the rise of the radical Left Party in the 2000s. and now with the AfD.

Two political developments in Germany and Brazil suggest that the desire for change is not only American but international in nature. WSJ Gerald F. Seib explains. Photos: Getty

An INSA poll released Tuesday revealed that CDU, SPD, Greens and AfD were between 14% and 25% of the vote – much closer to each other than ever before.

One reason for the analysts' support is that the Greens seek out supporters not only from the SPD but also from moderate conservatives in the form of Ms. Merkel, who said on Monday that she does not seek re-election as leader of her party.

Bavaria and the Greens achieved their strongest result in the country, by around 170,000 voters from the CDU, the CDU sister party of the CDU, woke. These were more CSU voters than the 160,000 voters captured by the AfD. In Hesse, the CDU lost a bit more votes to the Greens than to the AfD – 99,000 compared to 96,000.

"Now that the CDU is losing to both the Greens and the AfD, they must find a way to ally layers if they want to stay great," said political scientist Oskar Niedermayer.

Mr. Klose and other green politicians say the party's clear immigration policy has attracted centrist voters dissatisfied with the back and forth between the liberal and conservative stance of the grand coalition.

"With us Greens, voters know what they are getting," said Katharina Schulze, the 33-year-old co-chairman of the Bavarian Greens.

But analysts say other reasons played a role, while the SPD and the CDU Since their inauguration of internal disputes, the Greens now show a united front, a novelty to a group that has had internal disputes in the past.

The party also attracted many young and young people to first-voters who told it made possible to outgrow its core circle of wealthy, highly educated urban elites.

"The Greens are now viewed as a pragmatic, rational party addressing the center of society, which no longer feels represented by the grand parties," said Manfred Güllner from the opinion research institute Forsa.

The Greens are currently part of the governments in seven out of 16 federal states and are likely to form a coalition with the CDU in Hesse, where they have ruled together for five years. Winfried Kretschmann has been the first state premiere of the Greens in the rich Baden-Württemberg since 2011.

Skeptics think the upswing could be short-lived. For one thing, support for the Greens has been very volatile in the past. After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in Japan, the Greens rose to 28% in the elections and fell again between 11% and 13% a year later.

Political scientist Jürgen Falter of Mainz University said the situation worsened The economy in the US-China trade dispute could eclipse concerns about climate change and weaken the Greens' support in the future. For example, the CDU and SPD could once again attract attention, concentrating on warding off the uprising rebels on their right and left.

Next year, the Greens will face more difficult races in three East German states they are in. I have a small electoral base and the AfD is becoming the dominant political force.

"We also have a great responsibility on our shoulders, because very different people have completely different expectations of us," said Klose. "We have to do this splits somehow."

Write to Ruth Bender at Ruth.Bender@wsj.com


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