Alexander Görlach

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German Greens holding cards reading, “Let’s Go!” at a party gathering. The Greens have been enjoying near-record support in recent surveys. Credit Jan Woitas/DPA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

They call Bavaria the Texas of Germany, and not only for its beautiful countryside and roaring economy. Like Texas, Bavaria has been historically divided politically, with traditionally minded conservatives in its small towns and liberals and progressives in its cities.

That is, until state elections last year. The center-right Christian Social Union held onto power, though its grip slipped, while the center-left Social Democrats were nearly wiped out in Bavaria’s cities. The Social Democrats have weakened everywhere lately, so their catastrophic showing in Bavaria wasn’t a surprise. The shock was who replaced them: the Greens.

The rise of the Greens — they have a nearly 20 percent support in recent polls, close to a record high — is not unique among the country’s smaller parties.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chancellor Angela Merkel at a cabinet meeting in Berlin this week. Credit Clemens Bilan/European Pressphoto Agency

The year is still new, but in German politics, an end seems already at hand: Chancellor Angela Merkel, who failed to form a new coalition government after the federal elections last September, sees herself confronted with a public that is fast losing patience with her political leadership.

In a recent poll, half of German voters said they wanted her to resign and allow another member of her center-right Christian Democratic Party to negotiate the formation of a governing coalition. Grumblings are heard within the party too, which did relatively poorly in the elections. Recently, members of the Junge Union, the party’s youth organization, directly called for her to step aside.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Pegida rally in Dresden, Germany, in 2015. The anti-immigrant movement uses the term “das Abendland” as a synonym for Western Europe and its values. Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Europe is being torn apart; divided by the aftershocks of the financial crisis, Europeans seem able to find common ground only in a common enemy. To hear Geert Wilders of the Netherlands or the U.K. Independence Party in Britain tell it, the crisis is not just about refugees: The influx of primarily Muslims is a threat to Western civilization itself, on par with the Arab invasions of the seventh century and the Ottoman invasions of the 16th.

It’s no coincidence that my country, Germany, has also seen a resurgence of a once-common, but more recently discarded, term: “das Abendland.” In English it is usually translated as “the Occident,” but its literal translation is quite poetic: “the Evening Land.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Across Western Europe, marriage equality is fast becoming the norm: From Scandinavia through the Netherlands and Denmark; even the Catholic countries of Ireland, France and Spain. But there’s one glaring exception: Germany. It stands out not only because it is the largest country in Western Europe, but also because on many measures, it is among the most progressive.

Germany’s outlier status (it allows “registered partnerships,” but not full marriage) is even more curious because much of the country is in favor. But not its leadership: Chancellor Angela Merkel and her party, the Christian Democratic Union, have stood athwart the Continentwide movement and yelled no.…  Seguir leyendo »