German Anti-Immigration NPD Party Wins Seats in State Election
By Andreas Cremer and Brian Parkin
Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Germany's anti-immigration National Democratic Party gained entry to a second state parliament, as voters in the region with the country's highest jobless rate used elections yesterday to vent their anger at the ruling coalition.
The NPD won 7.3 percent of the vote -- equivalent to six seats -- in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, according to preliminary results. Mecklenburg, home to Chancellor Angela Merkel's election district, which was visited by U.S. President George W. Bush in July, now joins the eastern state of Saxony in having NPD state lawmakers.
``Economic poverty and endless jobless queues make a fertile base for protest parties,'' Uwe Andersen, a political-science professor at the University of Bochum, said today. The NPD ``cannibalized the main parties' economic failures.''
About one-in-five people is without work in Mecklenburg, one of just three regions where gross domestic product shrank last year. Yesterday saw the Christian Democrats score their worst- ever result in the state, while the Social Democrats emerged the largest party though with a drop in support of more than 10 percent. The state has been ruled since 1998 by a coalition of the SPD and the ex-communist Party of Democratic Socialism.
``We will provide hard-core opposition and expose the full impotence of this red-red catastrophe,'' said Udo Pastoers, the NPD's lead candidate in Mecklenburg, referring to the colors of the incumbent coalition of Social Democrats and PDS.
The NPD urges reintroduction of the deutsche mark and calls for Germany to quit membership of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It also campaigns for the federal government to stop granting asylum to foreigners.
The rise of the NPD in Mecklenburg means three of Germany's six eastern states will now host anti-immigration, anti-foreigner parties in their regional assemblies. Two years ago, the NPD won 9.2 percent in Saxony, its second-best result in a regional vote since the party was founded in 1964. The German Peoples' Union, set up by publisher Gerhard Frey and known as the DVU, has been represented in Brandenburg's assembly since 1999.
The DVU, which like the NPD is monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, captured 12.9 percent support in the 1998 election in Saxony-Anhalt amid voter disenchantment with former chancellor Helmut Kohl's national coalition government. That's the highest score to date by any of Germany's anti-immigration parties in a regional ballot.
The DVU also has one lawmaker in the 83-member assembly of Germany's north-western city-state of Bremen.
``People are frustrated by the main parties' inability to tackle the country's problems,'' Volker Kronenberg, a political analyst at the University of Bonn, told news broadcaster N-TV in an interview. ``No wonder the NPD is making big gains.''
Still, their impact on national politics has been negligible. In October 2004, the NPD and DVU agreed not to contest elections in the same state to avoid losing votes to each other. Before last year's national vote, the NPD allowed DVU candidates to campaign on its lists, helping the party to score a nationwide 1.6 percent, its best result in a German national election since 1969.
Yesterday's Mecklenburg result mirrors developments seen under Germany's first ``grand coalition'' government of the 1960s. The alliance of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats then fanned support for the NPD, helping the party to enter seven regional assemblies over the grand coalition's 3-year tenure.
``It's the old rule of thumb -- the elephants' wedding is driving voters to the fringes,'' Andersen said.
I find this trend quite worrying. I know some will blame this is as a natural effect of multiculturalism, but that just seems misguided. The main problem seems to be the economy (as this article and others I have read state), but there is not really that much immigration to Germany so that immigration would be the cause of the poor economy in East Germany. It just seems to be ignorant scapegoating: the economy is bad, blame the few immigrants for it.