Another Blow to European Leftism

Angela Merkel  squeaked out a plurality in the German Bundestag four years ago and formed, along with the leftist Social Democrat Party, a grand coalition to govern Germany.  Those conservatives who expected a major change in Germany were bound to be disappointed:  the parties of the left in Germany formed an actual majority in the Bundestag, and Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) could not form a government to actually move Germany away from collectivism with the market-oriented Free Democrats.

All that changed on September 27.  The German general election followed almost exactly the script written by several years of polling data in Germany.  The Christian Democrats substantially increased their strength in the Bundestag and, in alliance with the also robust Free Democrat Party, Merkel can form a right of center government in Germany.   The Christian Democrats remain the strongest party in the Bundestrat, that part of the German national legislature which reflects the prerogatives and powers of German states.  This means that Merkel can now pursue those policies that she actually feels will help revitalize the private sector in Germany and that German foreign policy, traditionally the province of the Free Democrats in the CDU/FDP coalition, will be at least as sympathetic to us as in the past government.

Many pundits will, quite rightly, argue that the victory of the CDU/CSU and Merkel in Germany, like the pending victory of the Conservative Party and Cameron in the United Kingdom, means something very different than a conservative victory in America.  These pundits are right.  A "conservative" party in Europe is not nearly as conservative as a conservative party in America.  But there is another point to these European elections:  the left commands a rapidly shrinking percentage of the voters in European nations.

The percentage of the vote which the Social Democrat Party received in this German general election was the lowest since the end of the Second World War (or the lowest percentage in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.)  The historic left, the socialist left of Barack Obama and the Democrat Party, is wildly unpopular in the most important democracy in Europe.  The Merkel message of lower taxes, nuclear energy, and market solutions to economic problems resonated with voters.

What is true in Germany is also true in other major democracies in Europe.  The Conservative Party in Britain has been winning local elections all over the United Kingdom and the polls for the last two years have shown that Gordon Brown and his Labour Party will receive historically low percentages of the vote in the next British general election, sometime before next July. 

The disillusionment that Europeans feel for old style socialism seems clear.  Whether right of center governments will be able to transform electoral majorities into real change is another matter.  Certainly Maggie Thatcher was able to do just that in Britain twenty years ago.  Americans, after eight years of Bush Republicanism know the perils of having a nominally "conservative" government which often tries to pander to the left.

Conservatives should not expect miracles out of Merkel.  She, and Germany as a whole, wants good relations with Russia.  That is not a failure of conservatism in Germany but rather a reflection of how Germans across the board view Russia after the end of communism and the liberation of the Warsaw Pact nations.  That is not good for America, but Russia -- which has only half the area and population of the old Soviet Union and has none of the Warsaw Pact satellites, is not a real military threat to America. 

But there is no doubt that Merkel is as good as America can expect from Germany in supporting Israel (the German Chancellor was granted the unusual honor of addressing, as a head of government and not a head of state, the Knesset, last year.)  Schroeder, the Social Democrat who ran Germany before Merkel, went out of his way to poke America in the eye; Merkel shows no such animus.  Angela Merkel has also been portrayed as a right-wing extremist on social issues, although in American political terms, she is definitely in the middle of the road on abortion, gay rights, and similar social issues.

Anyone who belongs to the CDU (Christian Democratic Party) or the CSU (Christian Social Union -- the Bavarian counterpart of the CDU) is overtly religious, and although it is easy to overstate how much this affects the policies and philosophies of the CDU-CSU, the parties to the left of it all almost palpably hostile to religion.  The SDP and its ancestor parties going back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century were overtly atheistic.

The victory of Merkel, her party, and her party's Free Democrat allies is not a triumph of American conservatism in Europe, but it is an emphatic and clear rejection of the political alternatives to religious belief, individual liberty, and free economic markets.  We are not winning in democratic elections around the world, yet.  But, in many places, our enemies have stopped winning.  Sunday was another blow to European leftism.

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.
Angela Merkel  squeaked out a plurality in the German Bundestag four years ago and formed, along with the leftist Social Democrat Party, a grand coalition to govern Germany.  Those conservatives who expected a major change in Germany were bound to be disappointed:  the parties of the left in Germany formed an actual majority in the Bundestag, and Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) could not form a government to actually move Germany away from collectivism with the market-oriented Free Democrats.

All that changed on September 27.  The German general election followed almost exactly the script written by several years of polling data in Germany.  The Christian Democrats substantially increased their strength in the Bundestag and, in alliance with the also robust Free Democrat Party, Merkel can form a right of center government in Germany.   The Christian Democrats remain the strongest party in the Bundestrat, that part of the German national legislature which reflects the prerogatives and powers of German states.  This means that Merkel can now pursue those policies that she actually feels will help revitalize the private sector in Germany and that German foreign policy, traditionally the province of the Free Democrats in the CDU/FDP coalition, will be at least as sympathetic to us as in the past government.

Many pundits will, quite rightly, argue that the victory of the CDU/CSU and Merkel in Germany, like the pending victory of the Conservative Party and Cameron in the United Kingdom, means something very different than a conservative victory in America.  These pundits are right.  A "conservative" party in Europe is not nearly as conservative as a conservative party in America.  But there is another point to these European elections:  the left commands a rapidly shrinking percentage of the voters in European nations.

The percentage of the vote which the Social Democrat Party received in this German general election was the lowest since the end of the Second World War (or the lowest percentage in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.)  The historic left, the socialist left of Barack Obama and the Democrat Party, is wildly unpopular in the most important democracy in Europe.  The Merkel message of lower taxes, nuclear energy, and market solutions to economic problems resonated with voters.

What is true in Germany is also true in other major democracies in Europe.  The Conservative Party in Britain has been winning local elections all over the United Kingdom and the polls for the last two years have shown that Gordon Brown and his Labour Party will receive historically low percentages of the vote in the next British general election, sometime before next July. 

The disillusionment that Europeans feel for old style socialism seems clear.  Whether right of center governments will be able to transform electoral majorities into real change is another matter.  Certainly Maggie Thatcher was able to do just that in Britain twenty years ago.  Americans, after eight years of Bush Republicanism know the perils of having a nominally "conservative" government which often tries to pander to the left.

Conservatives should not expect miracles out of Merkel.  She, and Germany as a whole, wants good relations with Russia.  That is not a failure of conservatism in Germany but rather a reflection of how Germans across the board view Russia after the end of communism and the liberation of the Warsaw Pact nations.  That is not good for America, but Russia -- which has only half the area and population of the old Soviet Union and has none of the Warsaw Pact satellites, is not a real military threat to America. 

But there is no doubt that Merkel is as good as America can expect from Germany in supporting Israel (the German Chancellor was granted the unusual honor of addressing, as a head of government and not a head of state, the Knesset, last year.)  Schroeder, the Social Democrat who ran Germany before Merkel, went out of his way to poke America in the eye; Merkel shows no such animus.  Angela Merkel has also been portrayed as a right-wing extremist on social issues, although in American political terms, she is definitely in the middle of the road on abortion, gay rights, and similar social issues.

Anyone who belongs to the CDU (Christian Democratic Party) or the CSU (Christian Social Union -- the Bavarian counterpart of the CDU) is overtly religious, and although it is easy to overstate how much this affects the policies and philosophies of the CDU-CSU, the parties to the left of it all almost palpably hostile to religion.  The SDP and its ancestor parties going back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century were overtly atheistic.

The victory of Merkel, her party, and her party's Free Democrat allies is not a triumph of American conservatism in Europe, but it is an emphatic and clear rejection of the political alternatives to religious belief, individual liberty, and free economic markets.  We are not winning in democratic elections around the world, yet.  But, in many places, our enemies have stopped winning.  Sunday was another blow to European leftism.

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.