Third Republic: Germany enters a dangerous new political era

Dirk Kurbjuweit writes: Seven or eight months ago, Germany was a different country than it is today. There were no controversial political issues demanding immediate action and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership was uncontested. It was quiet and comfortable. But then the refugees began streaming into Europe and the country’s sleepy tranquility came to a sudden end. Since then, disgusting eruptions of xenophobia have come in quick succession, a right-wing populist party is on its way to holding seats in several state parliaments, Merkel has gained approval from the center-left Social Democrats and from the Greens, some conservatives want to throw her out and the state is overwhelmed. Does anyone know what is happening? What is wrong with this country?

For Germany, this is the second democratic republic, if one leaves out East Germany, since it was only a faux democracy. First came the Weimar Republic, from 1918 to 1933, and then, since 1949, the Federal Republic, which simply continued following the momentous events of 1989. But now, it looks as though the refugee crisis has brought a significant rupture. To be sure, the German constitution and the country’s institutions won’t be called into question any time soon. But the conventions governing Germany’s political interactions are changing with incredible speed.

A crisis of representation is necessarily accompanied by jolts to the political party system. Some of those jolts have been a long time in the making, but they are now becoming apparent as the refugee crisis takes hold. It could be that our country is currently experiencing lasting change. The contours of a Third Republic are becoming apparent. [Continue reading…]

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