Grand Coalition Not

Angela Merkel's government faces another test. Not only is AfD the leading party in an Eastern Germany poll, Merkel is infighting with SPD and CSU, her coalition partners, at the national level.

Welt reports CDU/CSU and SPD Increase Nationwide - AfD is the Strongest Force in East Germany.

Another Welt poll shows Majority Sees Right-Wing Radicalism as Mainly an Eastern Problem.

Poll Details

  1. 66% say Germany has changed for the worse since the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2015 to the negative.
  2. Only 17% said Germany has change for the better.
  3. 82% perceive the social climate as significantly rougher compared to previous years, 11 percent deny this.
  4. 61% of citizens feel just as safe in 2018 as in 2015, only 36 percent feel more insecure. (Note the comparison "just as safe" to "more insecure". A valid comparison would be more safe vs less safe)
  5. 27% think it's okay to protest against foreigners, while 66% do not understand it. For protests against violent acts of foreigners showed 71% of the interviewees understand, only 21% considered such protests as wrong.
  6. 50% believe that too many migrants come to Germany. 35% perceive the number as relative. 4% say immigration is too low.

Those in the "More Europe" crowd cannot be pleased with the survey results or events in East Germany.

Merkel Under Pressure

Eurointelligence has a bizarre story about a rift between CDU, CSU, and SPD.

As background to this story, Merkel decided to sack Hans-Georg Maaßen, the president of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Her reason was that Maaßen made some inflammatory, anti-immigration statements in support of protests. Moreover, Maaßen is allegedly affiliated with AfD.

Here's the bizarre part: Under the German constitution only the interior minister, not the chancellor, is entitled to fire Maaßen.

Merkel could fire the interior minister, but that is Horst Seehofer, her CSU coalition partner.

Firing Seehofer might have triggered the dissolution of the "Grand Coalition". Yet SPD, Merkel's other coalition partner insisted that Maaßen had to go.

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Now for the truly bizarre: Merkel's solution was to get Maaßen out of his current position by promoting him.

From Eurointelligence

> What makes this story important is its capacity to bring out the old conflict inside the coalition over how to deal with immigrants, especially violent immigrants.

> We think that a break in the coalition might help the CSU in its home state, but the views within the party leadership are divided. Nevertheless it is possible that Seehofer might resign and effectively force his party’s hand. The party can hardly afford to have its chairman resign on a point of principle over immigration, and then dispatch a more compliant interior minister to Berlin. The AfD would have a field day at the election. Its co-leader in the Bundestag argues that Maaßen has been one of the few effective officials in the fight against crimes committed by immigrants.

> It is also interesting to see how Bild is covering the story. The paper has been one of the most loyal supporters of Merkel, but not in this case. It writes that Maaßen has been a very successful.

> It is hard to see everyone coming out of this with dignity. If Merkel were to back down Andrea Nahles, SPD chief, would have a massive credibility problem as she has been pushing the hardest for Maaßen‘s dismissal.

> The paper says one way out would be for Seehofer to bring Maaßen back into the interior ministry as a state secretary, which would technically even constitute a promotion but would clearly not be seen as such politically.

That synopsis was from two days ago. By my previous comments, you know the result, posted this morning.

Maaßen Promoted

> Angela Merkel is certainly well versed in the art of political compromise.

> The political solution to the crisis is for Maaßen to leave his current job and to become deputy interior minister. So everybody wins, right? Maaßen gets the promotion of his life; Seehofer’s stubbornness has once again paid off; the SPD can claim that Maaßen is no longer in his old job; and Merkel has kept her fragile coalition together until the next crisis.

> It is hard to see how this very German farce could fail to benefit the AfD, which has steadfastly supported Maaßen.

> We noted a comment in FAZ this morning by Berthold Kohler, who notes that the Merkel administration goes from one crisis to the next, and expends ever more energy to tame the innate centrifugal tendencies of the coalition. What keeps the coalition together is a joint fear of the AfD.

Is this totally bizarre or what?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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