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Six parties set to clear the threshold to parliament in German elections

Six parties set to clear the threshold to parliament in German elections

Angela Merkel didn't make it to NY to hear President Donald Trump tell other world leaders, at the United Nations General Assembly, that he would destroy North Korea if "Rocket Man" didn't coöperate.

Despite Dr Merkel's commanding lead, the latest polls point to storm clouds on the horizon - the anti-immigration, anti-Muslim party Alternative for Germany (AfD) looks set to easily clear the 5 per cent hurdle to representation in Parliament in a historic post-war first.

Kicking or screaming, pupils are expected to honour a mandatory visit to Parliament at the Reichstag, where they are imbued with German history so that they can proudly celebrate the democratic dispensation. This was especially evident in the United States election campaign, when Trump supporters refused to openly express their position or just lied on the surveys. The party has been running at between nine and 12 percent in surveys.

"Although the AfD is highly unlikely to fare as well as the extreme right in France or the Netherlands, any relative success for the AfD will reflect badly to global onlookers, given German history", said Mr Gerd Appenzeller of Berlin's daily Tagesspiegel. This puts the A.F.D. well over the five-per-cent threshold guaranteeing representation in the Bundestag-a unsafe landmark. The party, founded in 2013 and led by Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland, has gained nationwide support and it is increasingly likely it will be the first far-right party, since the Nazis in 1945, to send delegates to the Bundestag. Merkel would never form a coalition with the A.F.D. And if it seems that way, it's only because her successive partners in power, be it in Paris, Rome, Warsaw, Madrid, London, didn't know how to - or simply couldn't - rise to her level. The combination is called a "Jamaica" coalition because the parties' colors match those of that country's flag.

But the troubling question is, why is the A.F.D., with its ugly, racialized rhetoric, an alternative for anybody? Allowing unparalleled numbers of Syrian refugees into Germany, and successfully standing against Trump in their trade negotiations has ingratiated her among the left.

The SPD's candidate for Chancellor is Martin Schulz.

The French leader, a young newcomer, has a different agenda to the German chancellor, who is seeking a fourth and possibly final mandate. "It's about preventing this country from getting a government of social coldness, a government that does not care about the people". One of Schulz's big moments this spring was when he stepped up and expressed outrage after Trump disparaged Merkel, whom he has said is ruining Germany. Merkel is a known quantity with an aura of stability and calmness, which is valued by her partners in Brussels (EU's capital) and elsewhere.

No there isn't. But to date, no chancellor has served more than the 16 years Helmut Kohl served as chancellor from 1982 to 1998.

German pollsters have little experience with the AfD, a new party, and its hardline anti-immigrant views make it taboo in some social circles, meaning some of its voters could be hiding their support to pollsters.

Merkel, asked by the mass circulation newspaper Bild what she would do if she won millions of euros in the Lotto lottery, said, "I personally don't play Lotto". "And we don't yet have that audience". One woman tells me that "Mrs Merkel is a bit too soft". We have a Presidential system.

Although the nature of the new German coalition and the persons undertaking specific portfolios will define future developments, Julian Rappold believes some optimism on strengthening European economic governance is justified.

The AfD will not enjoy any actual political power because they are considered beyond the pale and will not be included in any governing coalition. And why would that be? There again, regional independence movements and the Five Star party will put the euro on the ballot paper. You can build relationships and a good sense of competence with your fellow party members.

He said that ever since Macron was elected in May, the French leader had been "very active", both on the domestic front, with an ongoing reform of France's labour market, and on the European Union scene, with new ideas on Europe's future.


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