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There is a right-wing voter block in Germany. This is like in the rest of Europe. There is no German Fortuyn, Le Pen or Haider. The reason must be sought in the specific German setup, not merely in the (somewhat) conservative party, which is closely mirrored in most of Europe.
For the CDU the existance of the NPD is a good thing in the long run. It makes sure no non-racist hard right (anti Euro, pro nuclear power, ...) party forms.
The openly neo nazistic NPD does prevent the rise of a populist right wing party. That of course isn't only a boon for the CDU, but for the whole german political system.
That said, it can happen: See Schill-Partei in Hamburg.
And you can't change this fact by just declaring our cneter-right party into something it isn't.
"Do I need to explain that racism, antisemitism, and other forms of enmity of humans are not central or even necessary for a move to the hard right?"
Yes. That is really an absurd claim.
I measure positions in the left/right spectrum by class. The CDU definitely does not serve the interests of the working class. It serves parts of the middle class and mostly the upper class. It no longer tries to integrate parts of the working class, which is a difference to Kohl's era. The CDU (like all four mainstream parties) has moved to the right.
In order to actively suppress the left, to introduce authoritarianism and generally disenfranchise large parts of the population one doesn't need racism or the like, although it is useful. Policies excluding certain groups like Jews, Muslims, whatever are useful to shift blame and to create a false image of what is "us" and what is the enemy, but they are not necessary.
"I measure positions in the left/right spectrum by class. "
So the greens are the most right-wing party, then the FDP, then the CDU, then the left, then the SPD. If we look at the class - income, education - of their voters.
Whatever: Even if the CDU is on economic issues to the right of the Kohl era, - and even that can be doubted - they are still a center right party. To the left of the republicans or the tories or most right-wing parties in eastern europe. And even if you try to ignore them, non-economic issues are relevant to the voters.
"In order to actively suppress the left, to introduce authoritarianism and generally disenfranchise large parts of the population one doesn't need racism or the like, although it is useful. Policies excluding certain groups like Jews, Muslims, whatever are useful to shift blame and to create a false image of what is "us" and what is the enemy, but they are not necessary."
Have you any recent examples? A political party needs a mass basis and to get one, the hard right-.wing party will play some sort of identity politics against an "other". Is there even one non-xenophobe right-wing party now in Europe? I can't think of one.
Their voters vote nazi or they don't vote at all. Unlike the uglies in other countries that are no longer antisemitic, the NPD is. Their voters would have problems to switch to Islamophobian and racist and pro-Israeli Wilders (if they could).
"And even if you try to ignore them, non-economic issues are relevant to the voters."
I don't ignore non-economic issues, I just call them irrelevant to the position in the left/right spectrum. There are some issues where the left and liberals (even market-Taliban liberals) agree, gay rights, for instance. That doesn't make me a market-Taliban, though. On ecological issues I agree with parts of the conservative spectrum.
"Is there even one non-xenophobe right-wing party now in Europe? I can't think of one."
Parts of the EPP spectrum meander very much there. The CDU knows of course that there are many elderly, conservative, religious, middle-class immigrants of Turkish origin: exactly what they need as voters. In urban centres they try to integrate these immigrants, in rural parts they give vent to open Islamophobia. This is congruent with regional attitudes: most racism is where fewest immigrants are. In Germany most xenophobia is found in East Germany and rural West Germany, because most immigrants live in larger West German cities.
Thanks to neoliberalism the working class is atomised. There is no longer much that a skilled worker with a real job with full social insurance has in common with a temporary worker who gets less than the living wage. There is no working class solidarity to be broken up. The need for the identity politics is lower. It's still there: think of Sarrazin's scaremongering of the Arab immigrant benefit-scrounger producing one little "headscarf-girl" after the other. It is not central or necessary for the message, though. The message is one of social darwinism, not of race or religion.
When people talk about Merkel's "shift to the left", they mean civil liberties and they mean women's integration into the labour force. This is not exclusively the domain of the left though. It is an issue of modernity and the attempt to catch younger voters who don't live the traditional family roles.
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