HomeGER-272Module Eight

Module Eight

Angela Merkel – The Quiet German

Angela Merkel has never been a flashy politician, and on the world stage she has been overshadowed by other leaders. But a couple of years ago her profile started to rise. This was due to a number of things: her longevity as a leader; Germany’s leading role in the European Union, especially with regard to the EU’s economic situation; and the spotlight being shone on Germany as it accepted hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The article below from The New Yorker is long, but it is very interesting and well worth reading. 

The Quiet German

Your discussion task: What makes Merkel . . . Merkel? Why is she so successful? And what does her leadership success say about Germany?

REMINDER: if someone has already posted to the forum, and your comment relates to what they’ve said, it’s better to respond to that comment than to start a new thread.

Merkel and Multiculturalism

In 2015, Europe was in the middle of a refugee crisis. Hundreds of thousands of refugees were pouring into Europe. Angela Merkel made it clear that Germany would accept as many refugees as possible – “Wir schaffen das!” (=We can do it! – an old East German slogan) was her rallying cry, and Germany responded warmly, welcoming close to a million refugees, largely from Syria and North Africa, into the country. 

The euphoria did not last long, though. Many Germans objected to the large numbers of foreigners in their midst, even if many of them would only be in Germany temporarily.

Below are two articles that explain Merkel’s attitude towards multiculturalism. She may have welcomed the refugees to Germany, but she is also very clear that she has certain expectations of immigrants to Germany and how they’ll adapt to the country.

Why Germany’s Merkel will continue to welcome refugees, despite calling multiculturalism a sham

Angela Merkel endorses party’s call for partial ban on burqa and niqab

Your discussion task: Describe Merkel’s attitude towards multiculturalism. How do you feel about her opinions?

REMINDER: if someone has already posted to the forum, and your comment relates to what they’ve said, it’s better to respond to that comment than to start a new thread.

Merkel’s Rival on the Right

Angela Merkel leads Germany’s centre-right party, the CDU (that stands for Christian Democratic Union, but no refers to it as that anymore, only CDU). There are voters to the right of this party, and most of them look to a new party, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD, Alternative for Germany), which up to 2017 was led by Frauke Petry. The AfD started as a party that was sceptical of the European Union and wanted Germany to pull out of Europe’s common currency, the Euro, because it was felt that Germany was shouldering the costs of less economically viable countries. But with the Syrian refugee crisis the AfD has also become more strident in its opposition to immigration; it fears that increasing the number of foreigners in the country will destroy Germany’s “Germanness.”

Below is another long article from The New Yorker, but it does a wonderful job of introducing the leader of the AfD and explaining why the party is on the rise.

The New Star of Germany’s Far Right

Your discussion task: What are the fears that motivate Petry and the AfD? Do you think these fears are justified?

REMINDER: if someone has already posted to the forum, and your comment relates to what they’ve said, it’s better to respond to that comment than to start a new thread.

The Aftermath of the 2017 General Election

Angela Merkel’s centre-right party (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party (CSU) won the most seats in the September 2017 national election, but not enough to form a majority in parliament. Their coalition partners the SPD (Social Democrats) fared poorly, and the new far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) finished in third place, a result that sent shock waves throughout Germany and Europe. The AfD campaigned on an anti-immigration platform that some dubbed “Make Germany Great Again,” an allusion to the Trump campaign slogan (“Make America Great Again”).

The SPD made it clear that they did not want to form a coalition with the CDU/CSU, so Merkel at first attempted to form a coalition with the Greens and the newly resurgent rightist party FDP. Those talks broke down in late 2017, leaving the country with two choices: new elections or a renewed “grand coalition” of the CDU/CSU and SPD. Many SPD members did not want to form a new coalition – they felt that being a part of the government in the last parliament had alienated their supporters on the left. But party members also feared being blamed if new elections would have to be called since opinion polls showed that the SPD would suffer at the polls, so the SPD reluctantly agreed to form a coalition. In return for their support, they were able to increase their membership in Merkel’s cabinet to five ministries, including the all-important Finance Ministry.

In the coalition negotiations, the CSU demanded that tougher restrictions be placed on immigration in Germany. The CSU faces an election in Bavaria in October 2018, and they know that the AfD’s anti-immigration platform could cost them votes in that election. The SPD and CDU agreed to some new measures including a cap on immigration numbers of about 200,000 annually.

On the weekend of the 16-17 March 2018, in the wake of the installation of the new government, the new Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a CSU leader, stated in an interview with the right-wing Bild newspaper that “Islam does not belong to Germany,” a direct quotation from the AfD election platform. Merkel, who has consistently stated that Islam does belong to Germany, contradicted her minister in public remarks later that weekend.

Read the following two documents, an excerpt from the AfD election platform, and a news article about the Seehofer controversy:

AfD Platform on Islam

Article from thelocal.de, “Merkel contradicts interior minister”

Your discussion task: Since the 1960’s, Germany has been home to millions of Turkish economic migrants. Many of these families are now in the second and third generation with children who only know life in Germany. More recently, almost a million Syrian and other refugees from the Middle East and northern Africa have been taken in since 2015. As a result, Germany has a sizable Muslim population (just under 5 million people, about 6% of the population). What place should they have in German society? Should they adapt to ‘German values’ and customs? Or should the German government and society make efforts to include or adapt to their customs and values?

REMINDER: if someone has already posted to the forum, and your comment relates to what they’ve said, it’s better to respond to that comment than to start a new thread.

Specific Instructions for this Review: Merkel

Imagine that you’re the leader of Germany. Would you lead the way Merkel does, or would you do things differently? What issues would you concentrate on? 

As always, feel free to make use of the content items in the module and the postings of your classmates when composing your answer.

600-750 words

General Instructions for the Module Reviews

Please keep the following in mind:

  • your answer should be uploaded as a Word document. If you don’t have Word, please save your answer as a .docx file in the word processor of your choice.
  • your answer should be double-spaced.
  • no title page, but there should be a title, your name should appear at the top, and there should be page numbers.
  • answers should be within the specified word range.
  • good essays have grammatically-correct sentences, coherent paragraphs, no spelling mistakes, and a clear argument or point.

Please note: the question may ask you to make use of the discussions that occurred in the module. There are two modes for viewing the discussion forums, GRID VIEW and READING VIEW. (You can change which you view by clicking on the settings – the gear icon – in the upper right-hand corner of your screen when you’re in the Discussions area of the course.) Play around with the two views to find the setting that works best for you. For example, when I’m reading your discussions during the week and commenting on some of them, I use the READING VIEW, but if I have to read and grade a lot of postings I use the GRID VIEW.