Sun Sep 4th, 2016 at 03:56:09 PM EST
It's been said that the political spectrum does not look like a straight line but resembles a horseshoe. More so in these times where the middle is hollowing out. Today's state election in Merkel's home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MV) and Berlin (two weeks from now) offer curious examples of left-right crossover.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
The Heart Left, the Gaze Right - Raphael Thelen, Hannes Jung - Zeit
As he felt estranged from the SPD, Cristoph Grimm became an AfD member. Now he is fighting for his new ideals in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern while ignoring inner contradictions.
... Grimm had been a SPD member for 33 years. But he left three years ago. Because he blames men like [state prime minister] Sellering for robbing him of his political home.
... Grimm felt moved by the 1968 generation: for the workers, against the bosses! He joined the young socialists and the SPD, marched against nuclear power: "I got a lot tear gas in my face" he says. ... Three years after reunification he went to East-German Grevesmühlen to help build the local administration. ... But five years later his faith in justice in German democracy received a hit. He had signed freelancer contracts for his work. After his projects were finished he was simply dumped. ... He moved to Dassow as a lawyer ...
All the years he remained a faithful SPD member but in 2003 something happened that estranged him from his party. "The agenda 2010 was treason against the clientele of the SPD" says Grimm. "I signed my inner notice." The agenda 2010 that eliminated workers' rights and surrenders countless unemployeds to the job centers was the kind of bosses' politics against which he had demonstrated in his youth.
Then in 2010 came the Greek crisis and with it German calls for austerity. He no longer recognized his SPD, wrote letters to leading politicians, became involved in his SPD district. He didn't want to give up on his party.
At the same time he starts browsing on right-wing populist sites. The uncomplicated opinions affirm his anger... In 2012 he called Bernd Lucke, signed one of his petitions. ... In 2013 he wrote to the SPD board: "Neither Greece, Portugal, nor Spain are being rescued ... but only the creditors of those countries. ... My membership book is enclosed."
After leaving the SPD he became one of the founding AfD members in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. And as such he became the direct candidate in district 27.
He used to fight against Kohl and Strauß, now he is in the same party as Ralph Weber, law professor in Greifswald, who wore a t-shirt by the neonazi brand Thor Stainar. "I know Professor Weber. It's his right to wear those Thor-Stainar clothes."
If the AfD gets only half as many votes as polled the he will become a full-time politician and intends to fight for more direct democracy because: "Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble have a secret plan to dissolve the nation Germany in Europe, like lump sugar in coffee." In his TV ad he looks straight into the camera and says: "My heart still beats left."
The vacuity of the middle leaves room for people to combine the worst of the left and right
and apparently that's a lot of room in MV. It's a state that has lost hundreds of thousands of people from a population that used to be 2 million. It still suffers from high unemployment though the economy has stabilized in recent years and things are on a slow upswing.
Another negative distinct feature is the group of right-wing extremist NPD members in its state parliament. Recent polling suggests that they will be kicked out because of the rising AfD. In fact the AfD could pull ahead of the CDU which would be a remarkable disaster for Merkel's party. Just a few months ago the CDU looked poised to take over from the SPD incumbent in the grand coalition. Then came the summer of violence that rekindled the linchpin issue of migration. Overall, the AfD could replace the Linkspartei as the leading protest party in the East.
Berlin differs from MV in its disaffections. Decades of at-best mediocre grand coalitions have macerated politics such that there is no party near a majority. Here we have Sibylle Schmidt who worked for taz, the left wing newspaper, who is now a candidate for the AfD.
How an Old Leftie Found Her Way to the AfD in Kreuzberg - Gerd Nowakowski - Tagesspiegel
For decades former "taz" worker Sibylle Schmidt belonged to the left subculture. Now she is standing for the AfD because she doesn't feel understood by the other parties.
...There could only be losers... The right wing populist are at 15% and the SPD at 21%...
It is possible that the AfD is not a temporary phenomenon like the Republicans... but a different phenomenon - underpinned by people who like a diverse and liberal city who don't have anything against Muslims but who are against Islamism, oppression, parallel societies and racist behavior by young migrants.
Take Sibylle Schmidt. Mother of three, husband Peruvian, who can be seen on AfD posters, was a well-known player in the left subculture for decades. ... she worked for taz's marketing department and worked in SPD committees since 2005. One cannot accuse her of having no clue about the multicultural reality of Berlin.
From the left to the right like Horst Mahler? Perhaps that's too simple. Among the candidates of the AfD there are quite a few Schmidts. The agenda is crude, the party doesn't offer any solutions... It just profits from the mistakes of the other parties...
But those questions are real. Major parties seem to have a problem when topics don't fit into their programs. ... Criminal arabic clans could only become big because the police had to cut its budget for a decade. ... that a society should be able to make demands on immigrants. Especially someone who wants a liberal open Berlin should want this. But that seems to be difficult.
... The binding forces of parties decreases as citizens feel a chasm between political slogans and personal experience. This chasm of estrangement could lead to significant losses for the CDU in middle class districts. If a party only accepts racist voters as a possible explanation for the AfD's success it has already lost.
I'm not sure this is a source of levity but to my cynical mind it is: Bushido, a leading gangster rapper in Germany, of Arab extraction, who has friends in the Arab underworld of Berlin apparently wants to cast his vote for the AfD.
Fellow rapper: You know what the worst thing is? The people who have only been here for a few years but are up in arms about how many refugees are coming now.
Bushido: Yeah... Fuck it, I'll vote AfD anyway!
Fellow rapper: Isn't that the son of a bitch nazi party? Just like that?
Bushido: Yeah, I don't give a fuck! I'll never vote for the CDU again. Those bastards. [Insults against CDU senator Henkel follow]
He already voted AfD in the last general election.
Whatever beef he has against the CDU locals, it's not completely contradictory to his views about migration. Back in the day (2010) in a Spiegel interview he said
Bushido: That's nothing... If we talk about integration then we need to talk not just about you Germans, whether you accept us. We need to talk about the new Germans who live here: whether they are willing to assimilate, to learn the language, to have respect.
... On the contrary: as much as we immigrants walk all over you in your own country, we can't complain. It's clear we love Germany. We suck those social benefits out of your pockets and still have no respect for the Germans. We think of you as potatoes, as victims. That's the way some people think. But I find that disrespectful.
The AfD didn't lose any time and invited him to their post election party.