Anti-Euro Party a Growing Challenge for Merkel

GERMANYThe Germany’s center-right has long been in a luxurious position. Whereas the conservatives across Europe have been struggling in recent years with the rise of right-wing populist parties eating into their base, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats have had little to worry about. Though German left is splintered among three, or even four, parties, the right is a monolith. There is the CDU, its Bavarian wing known as the Christian Social Union, and its favorite coalition partner, Free Democrats (FDP). But this election year is different. With the birth of the anti-euro party Alternative for Germany (AfD), Merkel is facing competition from within her own clientele. Furthermore, though her preferred strategy has been that of maintaining complete silence about the AfD so as not to lend it credibility, there are many in Merkel’s party who disagree with that approach. And they are increasingly giving voice to their displeasure. “To imagine that nobody will talk about the AfD if we avoid talking about them would be a fatal conclusion to draw,” says Wolfgang Bosbach, a senior CDU member and chair of Internal Affairs Committee in German parliament. The party has to confront the critics of the euro “with well founded arguments.” Bosbach was quoted in Monday edition of SPIEGEL in an article that also included details from a paper written by CDU leaders from a trio of German states protesting against party’s strategy in dealing with the AfD. The authors of the paper urged the CDU to “take the new party seriously” and to engage it in a debate on the issues. Angie Merkel was furious. In a Monday party meeting, she complained bitterly about critique reported on by SPIEGEL and took the authors of the paper to task. “We are both older than 18,” she snapped at one of the renegade party members, according to meeting participants. Her touchiness is understandable. For months, CDU and the FDP have sought to ignore Alternative for Germany in the hopes that it would simply disappear as so many anti-euro movements have in the past. Instead, though, the party has quickly grown. Earlier this month, it surpassed 10.000 member mark, just seven weeks after its official founding, and it has attracted widespread interest among German electorate. More worrisome, significant elements within Merkel’s CDU have grown uncomfortable with the massive bailouts of heavily indebted euro-zone member states, with several conservative lawmakers either abstaining or voting no on aid packages in the German parliament last year. While no parliamentarians have yet abandoned the CDU, the Alternative for Germany has proven adept at attracting lower-ranking CDU and FDP members. Just last week, a state lawmaker with FDP in Hesse named Jochen Paulus switched parties. Many see AfD as a political home representing what German conservatives used to stand for, before Merkel moved the CDU to the center in recent years. And before euro crisis forced Berlin to embark on expensive path of saving the common European currency. While most Germans remain favorable toward the euro, a significant number are not and many of them are political conservatives (…..)



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Consultor Internacional


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