The Election That Shook Germany
Germany’s federal elections on September 24 were supposed to be boring. The Wall Street Journal said on September 10, “A bland and predictable campaign should be admired in the midst of a chaotic Continent.” On September 11, the EU Observer said, “Finally an election in Europe that isn’t racking our nerves.” Bloomberg Businessweek asked, “How, in 2017, can Europe’s biggest economy have a normal, even boring, election while crusading populists have upended the political order elsewhere?”
Two weeks later, Germany experienced an election that was anything but boring.
Angela Merkel was reelected, as expected. But instead of stabilizing Germany, the election only brought more instability and uncertainty. Europe’s most powerful nation is now on the verge of a full-blown political crisis, one that could have major social and economic implications.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (cdu) and its Bavarian sister-party, the Christian Social Union (csu), won just 33 percent of the vote, their worst result since 1949. The Social Democrats (spd), led by Martin Schulz, garnered roughly 20 percent of the vote, also its worst result since World War ii.
The big winners were the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which gained a shocking 13 percent of the vote to become Germany’s third-biggest party, and the far-left Free Democratic Party (fdp) with roughly 11 percent of the vote.
Merkel is now stuck trying to form the first four-party coalition in Germany’s history. The process is expected to take months; Germany may not form a government until well into next year. If Merkel fails to form a coalition, she may even have to step down. Even if she can successfully navigate negotiations, the end result will be a weak and unwieldy government.
September’s federal election revealed a divided, frustrated and unstable Germany. Both of the biggest parties ignored the issues that mattered most to the people.
Many called this election result a political earthquake, and Germany certainly has been shaken. Earthquakes strike without warning, though—and this political quake was at least two years in the making.
The election revealed that Germany’s real crisis lies much deeper than most people know. It gave us a glimpse into the much more significant crisis rumbling beneath the surface.
Germany’s Conflicted Soul
The Trumpet has warned for years that Germany is experiencing a quiet crisis. Fundamentally, this crisis isn’t political or economic, but psychological. It is unfolding in the minds and hearts of the people. A growing number of Germans feel an inner struggle between who they aspire to be and who they are. It’s a struggle between how they want to feel—about Islam, about the migrants, about Germany’s traditional culture and heritage—and how they actually feel.
Postwar Germany prides itself on being multicultural, tolerant and liberal. Germany is widely considered the standard for moral, political and social sophistication and enlightenment. Twenty-first-century Germany abhors war, defends the environment and human rights, and values international cooperation and collaboration. This is the type of person (and nation) many Germans aspire to be.
But there’s a problem. The influx of more than a million Muslim migrants, together with Russia’s dramatic resurgence and Europe’s rolling financial problems, is arousing other feelings and aspirations. And these emotions don’t square with the desire to be tolerant and multicultural. Being tolerant feels good, until hundreds of thousands of foreigners enter your nation and expect you to foot the bill. Being multicultural is wonderful, until Muslims waving Islamic State flags settle in your village and begin eyeing your teenage daughter. Being anti-war feels righteous, until Russian tanks start rolling westward.
Harsh realities are forcing more and more Germans to reconsider their postwar values in light of more basic urges. Tolerance is being replaced by prejudice, multiculturalism by patriotism, community spirit by a greater drive for self-preservation and self-advancement.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this story is that Germany’s “elite” thinkers and leaders, the nation’s mainstream journalists and politicians, including Angela Merkel, do not publicly recognize Germany’s conflicted soul. They do not appear to be thinking seriously about its disturbing ramifications.
This is truly alarming: The transformation now occurring in the soul of the German people will culminate in the seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire!
Rise of the Far Right
Even after the election, few are facing this crisis. Though many labeled it a political earthquake, few have studied the fault lines that caused it. Angela Merkel actually said she would have done nothing differently, and that the AfD’s election success would not influence her refugee policy.
Meanwhile, back in reality, the political success of the AfD and the far-left fdp powerfully proves that the public is increasingly dissatisfied and fearful.
The AfD’s dramatic rise is sobering. The party was only founded in April 2013. Less than six months later, it won 4.7 percent of the vote in the federal election. By spring 2017, it had representation in 13 of the 16 German state parliaments.
This September, the AfD became Germany’s third-largest political party. It will have roughly 90 seats in the Bundestag, marking the first time in 60 years that a party further right than the cdu/csu will have parliamentary representation. This is astounding considering the AfD did not tone down its rhetoric in order to win more votes. It remained staunchly anti-migrant, anti-Islam and anti-EU.
The cdu and the csu, or simply “the Union,” suffered a nearly 9 percent drop in votes from 2013. In Bavaria, the csu’s home state, it was a 10 percent drop.
The AfD was there to pick up the frustrated voters. However, polls indicate that a massive number of AfD voters—roughly 70 percent according to some surveys—voted merely to protest the other parties, not out of any great loyalty to the AfD. Nico Siegel, head of the Infratest dimap polling agency, described the AfD as “a vacuum cleaner for those unsatisfied with the other parties.”
If the cdu/csu Union wants those voters back, it will have to move much more to the right, especially on immigration. Polls show that a growing number of Germans want the migrant flow stopped or seriously curbed. A Bertelsmann Foundation survey found that 54 percent believe the country cannot handle more migrants—the first time a majority expressed this opinion (just two years ago, only 40 percent felt this way). The study concluded: “Many feel that the maximum limit has been reached” (emphasis added throughout).
Meanwhile, Merkel refuses to put a cap on the number of migrants entering the country.
A study published in August by the R+V Info Center revealed that Islamist terrorism is now the top fear of Germans. Analyst Brigitte Roemstedt said fear of a terrorist attack is now “at one of the highest levels that has ever been measured.”
Yet despite this, Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz barely discussed Islamist terrorism ahead of the election. A Rheingold Institute study just before the vote quoted chief psychologist Stephan Grünewald, who said, “On a fundamental level, the voters are totally disappointed in this election campaign.” The German people “feel like the things that are important to them aren’t being discussed, and that many are being glossed over. … In the in-depth interviews, all people wanted to talk about was the refugee crisis, refugee crisis, refugee crisis. Despite being so elegantly left out of the campaign, it is still a sore spot that hasn’t been treated by politicians.”
“Voters are disoriented, full of uncertainties,” warned Grünewald. “They describe Germany either as an ailing, rundown country or as a secure island of affluence in a sea of risk. It’s all very fragile and leads to emotional outbursts. I have never before seen so much anger and hatred among test subjects.”
Merkel managed to squeak out a win, but little has meaningfully changed in Germany since the election. Germany’s mainstream leaders, including Chancellor Merkel, still have not seriously addressed the issues disturbing a large number of Germans. There is a lot to admire about Angela Merkel, but when it comes to the refugee issue, she is dangerously out of touch with the public. The consequences of such thinking are alarming. These issues will only grow more serious, as will the public’s sense of abandonment and anger. Already people are more anxious, more uncertain and more irritated. A major political crisis is imminent!
Craving a Strongman
In November 2015, the Trumpet wrote, “Time will tell, but Merkel’s embrace of the migrants could be her undoing.” In the two years since, Merkel has remained, but Germany’s soul has only grown more tormented. The urges of self-preservation and nationalism have intensified. The people want a leader and political party willing and able to lead Germany (and even Europe) through this tumultuous period.
The region to watch closely is Bavaria. Situated in southeastern Germany, bordering Austria and the Czech Republic, Bavaria is the soul of the nation. It is conservative and staunchly Catholic, and it has a rich history with some of Europe’s most powerful empires and most dangerous regimes. “Bavaria has often been a center for new political experiments in Germany,” explained think tank Stratfor. “In times of deep social upheaval, this involved embracing extreme positions” (Oct. 18, 2015).
Bavaria, and specifically the city of Munich, was a breeding ground of National Socialism. The young Adolf Hitler was raised in Bavaria, and Munich was where he made his first attempt to seize power in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. Munich “had a special place in the Nazi pantheon, and in 1935 Hitler declared it ‘the capital of the Nazi movement’” (ibid).
It is likely that Germany’s next leader will come from Bavaria. The primary political party there is the csu, one of Germany’s largest. Together with the cdu, it has composed the most influential alliance in modern German politics.
The refugee crisis has introduced tension and instability into this alliance. The csu staunchly opposes Merkel’s views on the issue. Bavaria is on the front lines of the crisis; it has watched refugees pour into its cities and villages.
The csu is more in tune with the German people on this issue than Merkel and the cdu. The majority of the public, though they disagree with Merkel, do not want to join Die Linke or Alternative für Deutschland. They want a mainstream party with the same views on key issues, especially the refugees. The csu is positioned to be that party—to capitalize on any Merkel misstep, or perhaps a forced retirement or political collapse.
The man to watch inside the csu is Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. He is a native Bavarian and a disciple of German strongman Franz Josef Strauss. Before he moved to America in 2011, he was defense minister, the nation’s most popular politician, and the man many expected to become a future chancellor. Guttenberg has an aristocratic pedigree, movie-star looks and a charismatic personality. He communicates with force and vigor, but is also a pragmatic, deep thinker. He understands Germany and Europe. When you listen to his speeches, you can see that he understands the conflict gnawing at the German soul.
Prior to the election, for the first time since a plagiarism scandal forced him from office more than six years ago, Guttenberg was in Germany, campaigning for the cdu/csu. Even now there are rumors that, following the election, he will move back to Berlin to take up a cabinet post within the new government.
A New Germany Is Imminent
If you think Germany is strong now, just wait. Slowly but steadily, this identity crisis is causing Germans to accept that meekness, tolerance and passivity are ill advised and dangerous in an increasingly unstable and violent world. At a grassroots level, Germany is developing a new postwar identity.
The Trumpet and its predecessor the Plain Truth have been prophesying about the emergence of a strong, active, powerful Germany since 1944. We’ve based this forecast on many Bible prophecies. In Isaiah 10:5, for example, God says, “O Assyrian [a name in biblical prophecy for modern-day Germany], the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.” This is a prophecy about God deploying Germany as a rod of correction to inflict horrifying violence and pain on the modern-day nations of Israel.
Germany is also a protagonist in the end-time prophecy of Ezekiel 23. This prophecy says that Britain, America and the Jewish state in the Middle East will align themselves with Germany, which will be the dominant world leader. Verses 9-12 read: “Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted. … She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men.”
Again, this prophecy shows that Germany will be an impressive political and military power, a mighty, imperialistic nation that subjugates large swathes of civilization!
Hosea 5 has another, similar end-time prophecy about the nations of Israel, mainly Ephraim (Britain). But notice, God says that “[w]hen Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (verse 13). This foretells Britain looking to Germany for support. Why? Apparently Germany at this time is the world’s leading nation!
There are similar prophecies in Habakkuk 1, Daniel 7, 8 and 11, and Revelation 13 and 17, for example. These speak of the emergence in the end time of a German-led, Catholic-inspired European superstate. As hard as it is right now to imagine the EU as an imperialistic superpower, this is exactly what the Bible prophesies!
And at the core of this European empire is an extremely powerful, extremely assertive, extremely aggressive German nation!
This Germany is forming even now. The inner struggle within many Germans will only intensify after this recent election. More of Merkel means more of the same. Now that the election is over, what is left to motivate her to make the changes the people seek? And unless some dramatic changes are made, Germany will only grow less stable and the people more anxious, more frustrated, and much more angry!
Eventually, the tension and anger will explode, initiating a course of events that will bring about the rise of a new, more powerful, more assertive, more terrifying Germany!