We obsess about the far right, but who ends up in Germany’s ruling coalition will have huge repercussions for the rest of Europe
This German election matters greatly to the whole of Europe, not just to Germany alone. Its results, and what emerges now, will determine much of what can or cannot be accomplished to rejuvenate a 60-year-old European project that has, in recent years, often looked as if it was on crutches. The German far right’s entrance into the Bundestag is worrying, but it risks being the only thing many beyond Germany will pay attention to, and that in turn means we may miss the full impact for Europe of Germany’s vote.
First, however raucous the AfD may be, the centre ground has held in Germany. That Angela Merkel has been re-elected, after more than 1 million refugees arrived in the country, says something about its stability and resilience. Remember that Marine Le Pen gained 21% in the first round of the French presidential elections, in a country that took in only a tiny fraction of the migrants who arrived in Europe in 2015-16.