JULY 10–14, 2019

Germany

Anna Sauerbrey, PhD

Deputy Editor-in-Chief
Der Tagesspiegel

Contributing Opinion Writer
International New York Times

Anna Sauerbrey, PhD, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Der Tagesspiegel; Contributing Opinion Writer, International New York Times, reported that Germany is facing an identity crisis as the neo-right gains popularity as evidenced by the emerging far-right political party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD). While this identify crisis does not threaten Germany’s overall political stability, it has introduced more players into the country’s changing political scene, altered the traditional coalitions of government, and turned the country’s attention inward.

The era of the big-ten parties is over, Dr. Sauerbrey observed, and, in the upheaval, a new political landscape is being formed. Both governing parties, the center-right Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats, who are currently in a coalition under the lead of Chancellor Angela Merkel, suffered significant losses in the recent European parliamentary elections in Germany. Meanwhile, the Green Party is attracting support from the younger generation, and alienated voters –those not benefitting from globalization–are looking to the populist right-wing AfD.

As Germany struggles with conflicting internal views over immigration, climate change, and divisiveness between provincial vs metropolitan concerns, this may have implications for Germany’s evolving role in the EU and the global order, and will influence the formation of the new government in the 2021 elections, Dr. Sauerbrey predicted.

Immigration

Twenty percent of German citizens are immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants. In the 1950s and 60s, laborers emigrated from Italy and Turkey. In the 1990’s, Balkan immigrants were more numerous, but, in 2015-2016, the refugee crisis brought more than 1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, and North Africa.

The country is divided about the realities of immigration. German refugee agencies are overloaded and efforts to distribute the refugee burden across the EU members are slow to materialize. Chancellor Merkel’s message that “Islam is part of German,” and pro-refugee demonstrations have been countered by decisions such as laws prohibiting Muslim teachers and judges from wearing headscarves in federal states, and anti-refugee demonstrations, especially in the eastern states. The AfD’s message of anti-EU and anti-immigration resonates with a vocal minority.

However, the tone of the immigration debate is changing, Dr. Sauerbrey reported. In 2016, 700,000 applications for asylum were presented in Germany versus only 150,000 in 2019. The mood has normalized and Germany, long a haven for immigrants, has returned to a more open attitude and is integrating migrants into German society more effectively. Immigrants face less poverty and discrimination. Immigration is no longer the big story in the news and the mood is less hostile.

Climate Crisis

Climate crisis is now the leading issue. It is dominating the media agenda and changing Germany’s political landscape. Germany has seen unprecedented heat waves in the last 5 summers, and smoke from forest fires has permeated even urban Berlin. Young people have been the champions of climate crisis awareness and many joined the #FridaysForFuture movement, protesting each Friday outside of their parliaments and local city halls all over Germany and the world. This movement has strengthened the Green Party, whose 25-27% popularity approximates that of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party. Meanwhile, the dominant Big 10 parties have no climate change agenda.

Metropolis vs Province

The climate crisis also highlights a fault line between urban and rural constituents and has become a divisive debate with heightening tensions. The urban, post-modernist population tends to be international, globally oriented, comfortable with immigration, and concerned about climate. The air in German cities exceeds the EU standards for air pollution and urbanites would ban diesel cars in city centers.

In contrast, the rural, provincial attitudes tend to be communitarian and nationalist rather than international. They are focused more on family, home, and local community, and the immediate environment. The AfD, for example, denies climate change and has a campaign to advocate for diesel vehicles.

These philosophical differences have economic underpinnings as well. The German economy relies on small-to-medium-sized enterprises, with integration between metropolitan and provincial areas. De-industrialization in the eastern states has led to unemployment and a lower standard of living with limited access to the Internet, shopping, medical services. Not surprisingly, the AfD was strongly supported in east German states, outperforming the Big 10 parties.

The Future

There is significant insecurity about the current government surviving through the legislative session.  Both parties have been overtaken by infighting. Andrea Nahles, the head of the Social Democrats, and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of the Christian Democrats, are being challenged internally by dissidents unhappy with their stay-the-course strategies.

Despite these challenges, Germany remains a very stable country with a healthy political culture. All the potential leaders who may emerge are Pro-NATO and Pro-EU. Germany carried Europe through the financial crisis, and then the refugee crisis. German leadership had its critics, and its faults, but the Continent would be in a much worse place without it. Now, as it struggles with climate change and an ever-larger threat from the populist right, Europe needs Germany more than ever, Dr. Sauerbrey concluded.

Sen. Scott Sales (MT) and Ellie Booth (Amazon) discussed the Forum topics between sessions.

Discussion

Q&A followed The Future of the EU (Tocci). Click here

Speaker Biography

Anna Sauerbrey

Anna Sauerbrey became a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times in February 2015. Ms. Sauerbrey has been an editor and writer at the German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel since 2011. She is a member of the editorial board and contributes reporting on technology and interior politics. In 2013, she was an Arthur F. Burns fellow at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ms. Sauerbrey holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Mainz. Before joining Der Tagesspiegel as a trainee in 2009, she lectured in medieval and early modern history and worked as a freelance journalist for regional publications. She lives in Berlin.

In 2015-2016, the refugee crisis brought more than 1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, and North Africa.

Chancellor Merkel’s message that “Islam is part of German,” and pro-refugee demonstrations have been countered by decisions such as laws prohibiting Muslim teachers and judges from wearing headscarves in federal states, and anti-refugee demonstrations, especially in the eastern states.

Climate crisis is now the leading issue. It is dominating the media agenda and changing Germany’s political landscape.

Anna Sauerbrey

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JULY 10–14, 2019

Germany

Anna Sauerbrey, PhD

Deputy Editor-in-Chief
Der Tagesspiegel

Contributing Opinion Writer
International New York Times

Anna Sauerbrey, PhD, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Der Tagesspiegel; Contributing Opinion Writer, International New York Times, reported that Germany is facing an identity crisis as the neo-right gains popularity as evidenced by the emerging far-right political party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD). While this identify crisis does not threaten Germany’s overall political stability, it has introduced more players into the country’s changing political scene, altered the traditional coalitions of government, and turned the country’s attention inward.

The era of the big-ten parties is over, Dr. Sauerbrey observed, and, in the upheaval, a new political landscape is being formed. Both governing parties, the center-right Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats, who are currently in a coalition under the lead of Chancellor Angela Merkel, suffered significant losses in the recent European parliamentary elections in Germany. Meanwhile, the Green Party is attracting support from the younger generation, and alienated voters –those not benefitting from globalization–are looking to the populist right-wing AfD.

As Germany struggles with conflicting internal views over immigration, climate change, and divisiveness between provincial vs metropolitan concerns, this may have implications for Germany’s evolving role in the EU and the global order, and will influence the formation of the new government in the 2021 elections, Dr. Sauerbrey predicted.

Immigration

Twenty percent of German citizens are immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants. In the 1950s and 60s, laborers emigrated from Italy and Turkey. In the 1990’s, Balkan immigrants were more numerous, but, in 2015-2016, the refugee crisis brought more than 1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, and North Africa.

In 2015-2016, the refugee crisis brought more than 1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, and North Africa.

The country is divided about the realities of immigration. German refugee agencies are overloaded and efforts to distribute the refugee burden across the EU members are slow to materialize. Chancellor Merkel’s message that “Islam is part of German,” and pro-refugee demonstrations have been countered by decisions such as laws prohibiting Muslim teachers and judges from wearing headscarves in federal states, and anti-refugee demonstrations, especially in the eastern states. The AfD’s message of anti-EU and anti-immigration resonates with a vocal minority.

Chancellor Merkel’s message that “Islam is part of German,” and pro-refugee demonstrations have been countered by decisions such as laws prohibiting Muslim teachers and judges from wearing headscarves in federal states, and anti-refugee demonstrations, especially in the eastern states.

However, the tone of the immigration debate is changing, Dr. Sauerbrey reported. In 2016, 700,000 applications for asylum were presented in Germany versus only 150,000 in 2019. The mood has normalized and Germany, long a haven for immigrants, has returned to a more open attitude and is integrating migrants into German society more effectively. Immigrants face less poverty and discrimination. Immigration is no longer the big story in the news and the mood is less hostile.

Climate Crisis

Climate crisis is now the leading issue. It is dominating the media agenda and changing Germany’s political landscape. Germany has seen unprecedented heat waves in the last 5 summers, and smoke from forest fires has permeated even urban Berlin. Young people have been the champions of climate crisis awareness and many joined the #FridaysForFuture movement, protesting each Friday outside of their parliaments and local city halls all over Germany and the world. This movement has strengthened the Green Party, whose 25-27% popularity approximates that of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party. Meanwhile, the dominant Big 10 parties have no climate change agenda.

Climate crisis is now the leading issue. It is dominating the media agenda and changing Germany’s political landscape.

Metropolis vs Province

The climate crisis also highlights a fault line between urban and rural constituents and has become a divisive debate with heightening tensions. The urban, post-modernist population tends to be international, globally oriented, comfortable with immigration, and concerned about climate. The air in German cities exceeds the EU standards for air pollution and urbanites would ban diesel cars in city centers.

In contrast, the rural, provincial attitudes tend to be communitarian and nationalist rather than international. They are focused more on family, home, and local community, and the immediate environment. The AfD, for example, denies climate change and has a campaign to advocate for diesel vehicles.

These philosophical differences have economic underpinnings as well. The German economy relies on small-to-medium-sized enterprises, with integration between metropolitan and provincial areas. De-industrialization in the eastern states has led to unemployment and a lower standard of living with limited access to the Internet, shopping, medical services. Not surprisingly, the AfD was strongly supported in east German states, outperforming the Big 10 parties.

The Future

There is significant insecurity about the current government surviving through the legislative session.  Both parties have been overtaken by infighting. Andrea Nahles, the head of the Social Democrats, and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of the Christian Democrats, are being challenged internally by dissidents unhappy with their stay-the-course strategies.

Despite these challenges, Germany remains a very stable country with a healthy political culture. All the potential leaders who may emerge are Pro-NATO and Pro-EU. Germany carried Europe through the financial crisis, and then the refugee crisis. German leadership had its critics, and its faults, but the Continent would be in a much worse place without it. Now, as it struggles with climate change and an ever-larger threat from the populist right, Europe needs Germany more than ever, Dr. Sauerbrey concluded.

Sen. Scott Sales (MT) and Ellie Booth (Amazon) discussed the Forum topics between sessions.

Discussion

Q&A followed The Future of the EU (Tocci). Click here

Speaker Biography

Anna Sauerbrey

Anna Sauerbrey became a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times in February 2015. Ms. Sauerbrey has been an editor and writer at the German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel since 2011. She is a member of the editorial board and contributes reporting on technology and interior politics. In 2013, she was an Arthur F. Burns fellow at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ms. Sauerbrey holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Mainz. Before joining Der Tagesspiegel as a trainee in 2009, she lectured in medieval and early modern history and worked as a freelance journalist for regional publications. She lives in Berlin.

JULY 10–14, 2019

Germany

Anna Sauerbrey, PhD

Deputy Editor-in-Chief
Der Tagesspiegel

Contributing Opinion Writer
International New York Times

Anna Sauerbrey, PhD, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Der Tagesspiegel; Contributing Opinion Writer, International New York Times, reported that Germany is facing an identity crisis as the neo-right gains popularity as evidenced by the emerging far-right political party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD). While this identify crisis does not threaten Germany’s overall political stability, it has introduced more players into the country’s changing political scene, altered the traditional coalitions of government, and turned the country’s attention inward.

The era of the big-ten parties is over, Dr. Sauerbrey observed, and, in the upheaval, a new political landscape is being formed. Both governing parties, the center-right Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats, who are currently in a coalition under the lead of Chancellor Angela Merkel, suffered significant losses in the recent European parliamentary elections in Germany. Meanwhile, the Green Party is attracting support from the younger generation, and alienated voters –those not benefitting from globalization–are looking to the populist right-wing AfD.

As Germany struggles with conflicting internal views over immigration, climate change, and divisiveness between provincial vs metropolitan concerns, this may have implications for Germany’s evolving role in the EU and the global order, and will influence the formation of the new government in the 2021 elections, Dr. Sauerbrey predicted.

Immigration

Twenty percent of German citizens are immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants. In the 1950s and 60s, laborers emigrated from Italy and Turkey. In the 1990’s, Balkan immigrants were more numerous, but, in 2015-2016, the refugee crisis brought more than 1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, and North Africa.

In 2015-2016, the refugee crisis brought more than 1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, and North Africa.

The country is divided about the realities of immigration. German refugee agencies are overloaded and efforts to distribute the refugee burden across the EU members are slow to materialize. Chancellor Merkel’s message that “Islam is part of German,” and pro-refugee demonstrations have been countered by decisions such as laws prohibiting Muslim teachers and judges from wearing headscarves in federal states, and anti-refugee demonstrations, especially in the eastern states. The AfD’s message of anti-EU and anti-immigration resonates with a vocal minority.

Chancellor Merkel’s message that “Islam is part of German,” and pro-refugee demonstrations have been countered by decisions such as laws prohibiting Muslim teachers and judges from wearing headscarves in federal states, and anti-refugee demonstrations, especially in the eastern states.

However, the tone of the immigration debate is changing, Dr. Sauerbrey reported. In 2016, 700,000 applications for asylum were presented in Germany versus only 150,000 in 2019. The mood has normalized and Germany, long a haven for immigrants, has returned to a more open attitude and is integrating migrants into German society more effectively. Immigrants face less poverty and discrimination. Immigration is no longer the big story in the news and the mood is less hostile.

Climate Crisis

Climate crisis is now the leading issue. It is dominating the media agenda and changing Germany’s political landscape. Germany has seen unprecedented heat waves in the last 5 summers, and smoke from forest fires has permeated even urban Berlin. Young people have been the champions of climate crisis awareness and many joined the #FridaysForFuture movement, protesting each Friday outside of their parliaments and local city halls all over Germany and the world. This movement has strengthened the Green Party, whose 25-27% popularity approximates that of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party. Meanwhile, the dominant Big 10 parties have no climate change agenda.

Climate crisis is now the leading issue. It is dominating the media agenda and changing Germany’s political landscape.

Metropolis vs Province

The climate crisis also highlights a fault line between urban and rural constituents and has become a divisive debate with heightening tensions. The urban, post-modernist population tends to be international, globally oriented, comfortable with immigration, and concerned about climate. The air in German cities exceeds the EU standards for air pollution and urbanites would ban diesel cars in city centers.

In contrast, the rural, provincial attitudes tend to be communitarian and nationalist rather than international. They are focused more on family, home, and local community, and the immediate environment. The AfD, for example, denies climate change and has a campaign to advocate for diesel vehicles.

These philosophical differences have economic underpinnings as well. The German economy relies on small-to-medium-sized enterprises, with integration between metropolitan and provincial areas. De-industrialization in the eastern states has led to unemployment and a lower standard of living with limited access to the Internet, shopping, medical services. Not surprisingly, the AfD was strongly supported in east German states, outperforming the Big 10 parties.

The Future

There is significant insecurity about the current government surviving through the legislative session.  Both parties have been overtaken by infighting. Andrea Nahles, the head of the Social Democrats, and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of the Christian Democrats, are being challenged internally by dissidents unhappy with their stay-the-course strategies.

Despite these challenges, Germany remains a very stable country with a healthy political culture. All the potential leaders who may emerge are Pro-NATO and Pro-EU. Germany carried Europe through the financial crisis, and then the refugee crisis. German leadership had its critics, and its faults, but the Continent would be in a much worse place without it. Now, as it struggles with climate change and an ever-larger threat from the populist right, Europe needs Germany more than ever, Dr. Sauerbrey concluded.

Sen. Scott Sales (MT) and Ellie Booth (Amazon) discussed the Forum topics between sessions.

Discussion

Q&A followed The Future of the EU (Tocci). Click here

Speaker Biography

Anna Sauerbrey

Anna Sauerbrey became a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times in February 2015. Ms. Sauerbrey has been an editor and writer at the German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel since 2011. She is a member of the editorial board and contributes reporting on technology and interior politics. In 2013, she was an Arthur F. Burns fellow at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ms. Sauerbrey holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Mainz. Before joining Der Tagesspiegel as a trainee in 2009, she lectured in medieval and early modern history and worked as a freelance journalist for regional publications. She lives in Berlin.