The Silent Musings of a foreigner in Europe
Read more at the The Foreigner's blog...
This past Sunday, Angela Merkel and her ruling coalition lost Berlin. It was the third lost federal state election in a row. It was as has now become the norm, another humbling defeat. As I watched the results trickle in, I marvelled at how much things have changed. The right leaning AFD once thought of as a fringe populist party, got 14.1% of the vote, only three points behind Merkel’s CDU’s 17.6%. If you consider that they were nowhere during the previous elections, it was a massive triumph. With this result, AFD are now serious contenders for mainstream political power.
For a foreigner like me, the prospect of an AFD led government is terrifying. And not just because their leader Frauke Petry thinks 'Happy birthday' should be sung in German. She probably has many other things up her sleeve.
But how did this happen? How did AFD become mainstream?
I think I have an idea.
A few weeks ago, we took our bikes and set out on a small bike tour. Our plan was to cycle to one of the lakes in the outskirts of the town we live in. Germany is populated with lakes. Statistically speaking, there are supposed to be between 15,000 and 30,000 lakes around Germany. The lakes in Germany are not the awe inspiring kind like the ones that you find in Africa. As a matter of fact, one would be hard pressed to find a Lake Victoria, Lake Livingstone, Lake Rudolf or any of those fancy names white people gave lakes in Africa. They are mostly, like most things German, sensible and practical places to swim in during hot summer afternoons.