Merkel’s sidekick urges disenfranchisement of AfD voters
German politician Peter Altmaier urged voters to not vote rather than vote for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs since December 2013, is regarded as one of Angela Merkel's most trusted advisors.
Published: September 21, 2017, 10:25 am
He said: “The AfD is dividing our country. They take advantage of the worries and fears of the people. And that is why I believe that voting for the AfD can not be justified – at least not for me.”
Even when asked directly if it would be better for voters to vote AfD than not at all, Altmaier replied: “No!” Altmaier was essentially advocating that voters undermine the democratic process.
“I advocate that all go to the election. But that they choose the parties that are state-sponsored. And for me, this is, of course, my own CDU/CSU, but also FDP, SPD and Greens. I can not make any sense in voting for the AfD.”
The AfD is likely to win 50 Bundestag seats following discontent over Merkel’s irresponsible refugee policy, but Merkel has ruled out any possibility of her party forming a coalition with the AfD or the Left.
Altmaier revealed to Bild that by “state-sponsored” he meant only parties which supported the status quo. Legitimate questions about the wisdom of Merkel’s immigration policy should be met either by extreme hostility from the establishment or as Altmeier has suggested, disenfranchisement, depriving German citizens of their basic right to vote.
Support for the chancellor meanwhile, has slipped with over a third of Germans still undecided how they will vote in the coming election, an opinion poll showed on Friday. The weekly survey, conducted by pollster Forschungsgruppe Wahlen for ZDF television, showed Merkel’s conservative bloc losing 2 points, down to 36 percent.
The poll of 1383 voters, conducted from 12 to 14 September, showed that 39 percent of those surveyed were still unsure how they would vote.
Altmaiers cynical comments have been met with shock from German voters. One commenter told German daily Bild: “His deeply indifferent hostility to democracy makes him a sought-after partner for Chancellor Schulz’s future cabinet!”
Another said Altmaier had “a strange understanding of democracy if a party admitted to the election is not to be elected because the party or some functionaries use more descriptive vocabulary, but on the outside, all factions promise the same to the citizens, for example, securing the external borders, checking the arrivals, deportation of criminals from abroad”.
Confronted with the AfD’s strong showing in an interview with Spiegel magazine on Monday, Altmaier accused the media of giving the AfD too much attention and said that had made the AfD relevant in the first place. He likened the situation to the election of Donald Trump. “These are just a few rabble-rousers,” said Altmaier, “who profit from the all the reporting on them.”
With the election likely to install six parties in parliament, up from the current four, Germany will be marked by a more fraught parliament after the vote, making coalition-building difficult. The Chancellor will take on her main rival Martin Schulz from Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the elections, but also face smaller parties.
Merkel has said in an interview with RTL: “I tell everyone that this election has not been decided yet. The CDU does not have a single vote to give away, and I’m just going to include the CSU in this as well.”
Former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage had noted earlier that Germany hasn’t had a real opposition party since Schultz’ SPD was effectively on the same side as Merkel’s CDU on immigration.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a senior SPD member, told broadcaster SWR that a “traffic light” coalition with the FDP and Greens and his party would be best. However, the poll support for such a coalition stood at only 41 percent, Reuters reported.
Merkel has rejected the option of a coalition with the Left party. She said: “Unfortunately you can ask anyone of the Social Democrats. None of them will rule out a red-red-green government.”
Gero Neugebauer, political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, told Reuters the FDP has been fishing in the AfD’s waters. “FDP leader [Christian] Lindner has turned a former pro-European party into some kind of AfD-light,” he said.
Lindner, a potential finance minister if the FDP joins a ruling coalition, has come out against the EU. “I fear that Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron are agreed on new pots of money in the euro zone to create a gigantic financial transfer system,” he said.
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