- - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Germany has been the force for European stability and restraint in the years since World War II, but now it may be the new “sick man of Europe.”

The recent German elections were expected to produce an increased majority for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, which long ago outgrew its religious roots but remains the largest German political force. Frau Merkel’s victory now looks less like a triumph and more like a disaster.

Her Christian Democratic Alliance won 33 percent of the vote, 9 percent less than four years ago, and its worst performance since 1949. The Social Democratic Party, her traditional enemy/partner in government, lost more than 5 percent. A new party, the Alternative for Germany, a conservative nationalist party born in 2013, won 12.6 percent, and Die Linke, the Marxist left, received 9 percent.

Since neither the Social Democrats nor Die Linke will participate in the next government, and Alternative for Germany is an expression of opposition to the traditional conservatives, Frau Merkel has only two possible partners to form a majority: the libertarian Free Democratic Party and the Greens, both fundamentally opposed to the Merkel conservatives.

If Frau Merkel succeeds in forming her coalition, it will be an unstable assemblage that will keep Germany on the verge of paralysis. In a way, she brought this on herself with an enthusiastic welcome to an avalanche of migrants just as the birthrate is falling among traditional Germans.

Over the half century since the end of World War II, Germany has been trying to erase the memory of uncontrolled nationalism, national socialism, the Nazis, Hitler, and World War II. But the rejection of all expressions of nationalism led to a failure of Germany to define itself as European. Now with the departure of Britain from the European Union, the weakness of France and the Low Countries, the German role in Europe is once more up for grabs.

The welcome for an avalanche of Muslim immigrants was meant to compensate for Hitler’s destruction of the Jews, that Germany is morally OK now. By 2000, the number of migrants had reached 3.5 million, mostly Turks. But as the Syrian civil war destabilized the Arab world, a huge wave of Arab and North African migrants has attracted more than 1.5 million unvetted newcomers, many of them young men entitled to reuniting their families in Germany, hence bringing in more migrants.

Almost half of the crimes committed in Berlin last year were attributed to recent migrants. Jihadist networks have formed. Muslim anti-Semitism has inspired attacks on Jews. Welfare costs for the new arrivals have snowballed. Someone has to be blamed for all the mischief and bad judgment, and public-opinion polls say most Germans think the main danger to world peace and stability is the United States.

Germany’s median age is now 46.8 with 40 percent of children having foreign roots. Since 2005, the population of new arrivals has increased by 24 percent, while native-born have declined by 5 percent. Demographers calculate that unless current trends are reversed, Germans of Christian and European extraction will be a minority within 20 years, and perhaps sooner.

Rolf Peter Sieferle, a former counselor to Frau Merkel, has described Germany as “a society that can no longer make the difference between itself and the forces that dissolve it, [and] lives morally beyond its means.” Harshly scolded by those with whom he once worked, he took his life last year. A collection of his notes, “Finis Germaniae” (“The End of Germany“), was published after his death. If he proves to be a prophet, it would mean as well the death of the Europe the world has known.

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