Euro-scepticism is a presence even in pro EU Germany

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Germany has again shown itself to be perhaps the most stable country in Europe politically.

The polls had long shown that its centre-right (more centre than right) chancellor, Angela Merkel, would win re-election, and she did.

Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) polled far more votes than any other party. The electoral uncertainty or inaccurate polls that have been a feature of other western countries were not apparent in Germany yesterday, even though the result did not exactly match the surveys.

The European Union, which seemed to face an existential threat not so long ago, has now seen the defeat of anti EU forces in the Netherlands, France and Germany.

But in all those countries, right (and sometimes left wing) parties that reject the EU have scored notable minority votes.

Even in Germany the hard right Alternative for Germany (ARD) appeared last night to have done better than the pre-election polls had indicated, collecting 13%+ of the vote. Ms Merkel was down a shade on predictions.

In 2015 she decided to throw open Germany’s doors to immigrants. It was a generous move but also naive, and has had consequences across Europe, increasing the flow of people coming to the continent (and almost certainly resulting in an increased number of drownings in the Mediterranean).

In France yesterday, conservative successes in the senate election showed that in Europe’s second most powerful EU country traditional nationalists are still a major force.

There has been a lot of sneering across Europe at Britain since the Brexit vote, but in fact the significant levels of nationalism that still prevail across the EU was, in the UK, only different in terms of its larger scale.

Ms Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, is pragmatic and has never been anti British. Her view of the world is not entirely out of step with the UK’s, and her return at the helm of Germany is as good an outcome as London could hope for.