Less than 12 months away from the Bundestag election in September 2017, Angela #merkel is facing headwind within her political party CDU (Christian Democratic Union), within #Germany as well as the EU. Especially her handling of the refugee crisis has caused controversies. Despite the criticism many fancy her chances of running for a fourth term of office also because of her moderate and steady style of leadership.

Similar to other European countries, Germany also faces low turnouts as a symptom of political apathy. Furthermore, there are relatively new political movements, mostly far right, that cause outrage and division among the nation and last but not least there is the ongoing threat of terrorism that recently hit Berlin.

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So let's take a look at the status quo in Germany, particularly at three different political movements.

The AfD - An actual alternative for Germany and Merkel?

The political party AfD (Alternative für Deutschland), founded in 2013, was mainly focused on opposing the German position regarding the Greek crisis and the rescue of the Euro. From there on it has evolved into a right wing populist party with a growing number of members. In the regional elections in 2016, the AfD was usually the third strongest, in the case of Sachsen-Anhalt (one of the five East-German federal states) the AfD achieved a staggering 24,2% and came second. The AfD is known for strongly disapproving of Merkel's policy and her political party and they would like to see her resign.

PEGIDA - spotlight Dresden

This registered voluntary association was formed in 2014 and is based in the East German City of Dresden where between 1989 and 1991 the famous Monday demosntrations took place that contributed to the downfall of the GDR.

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The Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (abbreviated PEGIDA in German) exploit the meaning of this location for their own purposes. The heads of the demonstration promote xenophobia and islamophobia. In January and October 2015 the demonstrations reached a peak with 20.000 - 25.000 participants while the numbers now have gone down to a stable weekly number of 2.000 - 9.000 demonstrators. The movement has spread to several other cities, e.g. Leipzig (the city, where Merkel used to study in the 70s) where it is called LEGIDA with an even more radical and violent approach.

Reichsbürger

As if the AfD and PEGIDA wasn't worrying enough, there is another movement summarized under the term "Reichsbürger" which means citizens (Bürger) of the Reich (empire). The number of those citizens started to rise over the last six years and there is no certainty about the actual number of so-called Reichsbürger but there are at least 12 active groups or self-proclaimed states in Germany.

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They are all united by the fact that they reject the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany and instead are convinced that the Constitution of the Weimar Republic still applies as well as the German borders of 1914 or 1937 (depending on the group). Trends indicate that more men and especially those who are socially or economically disadvantaged tend to be attracted by those groups. With their selfmade passports and driving licenses, even with own currencies they are often regarded as conspiracy theorists but their racist, antidemocratic and sometimes Holocaust-denying mindset is highly dangerous. And since they don't regard Germany and its institutions as legitimate, they don't obey the law, refuse to pay taxes but use the jurisdiction they consider illegitimate to bring legal actions against Germany.

After the country overcame its division into East and West Germany, there has been a dangerously growing ideological division or splitting going on, especially in the right wing as shown by the three given examples above. The disapproving attitude towards the press - in Germany often called "Lügenpresse" (lie-press) is symptomatic for our postfactual times where populists easily lure people with their simple and promising slogans.

#Berlin