Monday, September 20, 2004

Europe alarmed 

The two state assembly elections haven't gone very well for German Chancellor Schroeder, or for that matter for Germany's major parties. Voters in Saxony and Brandenburg, both in the east of the country, have vented their frustration by giving the National Democratic Party around 9% support in Saxony, and the German People's Union just over 5% in Brandenburg. Both parties are widely seen as being on the far-right of the political spectrum, bordering on neo-Nazi.

World press has been alarmed at this development:
"Voters lured to neo-Nazi parties in German elections," said "The Scotsman"; "Far-Right Surge in East Alarms Mainstream Germany," proclaimed Reuters; and the "International Herald Tribune" wrote "Extremists gain in Eastern Germany."

Alarmed, and rightly so. A revival of fascism or Nazism under any guise is a worrying prospect. However, what has been relegated to the back of the news stories, if mentioned at all, is the fact that the far-left has also made further gains in Saxony and Brandenburg.

The Party of Democratic Socialism is the heir to the old East German Communist Party. While most other post-communist parties of Eastern and Central Europe have transformed themselves into genuine social-democratic/"Third Way" parties similar to their Western counterparts, not so the PDS. While adopting democratic means and disassociating themselves from what is known in Eastern European parlance as "the excesses of the past", the German post-commies
remain wedded to troglodyte socialism, both in economic and foreign policy.

This weekend, the PDS took an estimated 28.9% of the vote in Brandenburg, up by 5.3% from the 1999 election, and 23.5% in Saxony, up by 1.2%.

The rise of both the far-right and the far-left is ominous. As Anton Boerner, president of the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade, told one of the newspapers, "For Brandenburg and Saxony the growing strength of the right radical parties and the PDS (former Communists) is almost catastrophic." He is right; both extremes have odious past and both have nothing constructive to offer German voters. Alas, it's unlikely that both will receive equal scrutiny outside Germany.


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