Lessons We Can Learn from French and German Elections

Just the other day, Emmanuel Macron was elected as the president of France. This came with a lot of optimism that he would change the stagnating French economy and match that one of their closest rivals Germany. In fact, the two nations were at the same level about 15 years ago. Germany decided to implement liberal economic policies while France was left behind. However, these two nations are facing new problems that could halt the development. Populism and nationalism is becoming a problem. The latest protests in France against labor reforms is another explanation to this problem. Perhaps the latest elections in Germany will help explain the threats that these countries including France face.

Kirsten Schinder says that she was left with mixed emotions as the results of the Germany’s elections were displayed on her TV screen. Hailing from Cologne, Mrs. Schinder says that she felt dismayed and confused by the results. The Alternative for Germany party won enough votes to be included in the German parliament. A 13 percent gain was the first since Second World War. Its leading candidate Alexander Gauland said that they wanted to take back their country together with its people. He mentioned this while he was celebrating the news. According to Mrs. Schinder, who works at the University of Cologne as a professor of linguistics, she says that lessons from postwar Germany have been forgotten. Some of these values include acceptance and tolerance to the beliefs of other people. However, many people including the professor say that the results have ushered a new phase in Germany. The outcomes offer people an opportunity to do some national soul-searching. The results will give these people the opportunity to experience the feel of living in post-World War two Germany. They will also understand the historical burden that is associated with the Holocaust and Nazism. This has also acted as a reminder to Germans that they can fall for populism and nationalism. These are two problems that liberal democracies are currently fighting with including the United States and European nations like France.

However, the number of Germans bridled by the thought was significant. Minutes after the results were announced, the Germans-on-social media movement started campaigning for the people who refused to side with the 13 percent. Some Germans made a comparison with the United States and France. These are nations where the far right candidates managed to vie in the final round of the presidential elections. However, the number of Germans supporting the far right is quite small compared to other European neighbors. Statistics show that the far-right party received 5 percent of votes cast in the 299 voting districts. This should come as a shock to the people who believe that liberal democracy was unshakable in the nation. Mrs. Schinder says that she no longer believes that there is a consensus in Germany. As a result, the German people have been warned by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier against allowing the vote to divide them. According to German media, the area affected most is southern Germany that is occupied by Roman Catholic states. They refused to vote for the Christian Democrats.

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