That’s it then. Get your heads down, because we’re going to be doing this for a while now. The North Rhine-Westphalia result means that, despite the last few years of turmoil and the nationalism and the racism and war and the endless shredding panic, Angela Merkel will win the election in September, slouching towards Berlin for a fourth coming. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. Surely some revelation is at hand! No. It’s just her again. The slow rot.
The NRW result was a shuddering disaster for SPD chancellor candidate Martin Schulz – his party had ruled Germany’s most populous state for all but five years in the last half-century, and now, just as they thought they’d found someone (untarnished by German politics, they said!) who was going to drag them almost back to the popularity level of Merkel’s soul-draining anti-immigrant content management system that is the CDU, the Social Democrats couldn’t even hang on to the bit of Germany where people still believe in them.
The CDU has now won all three state elections this year, and even though the NRW election was mainly decided by problems in NRW, there’s no way this will fail to douse Schulz’s early 2017 confidence.
And yet people still believe in the SPD – the party polled better among poorer voters in NRW than the CDU – and those polls also showed that people trust the SPD more on equality and fighting poverty, but less on the economy and security. And yet, somehow the constant promises of “social justice” – Schulz began his campaign by promising to “correct” the Hartz IV reforms, which laid the foundation for the now-constant rise in poverty in Germany – still aren’t believed by enough people.
Despite all the failures, and despite perpetually allowing itself to be the gimp to Merkel’s amoral government, the SPD is still the only thing stopping the CDU from actually going full Tory – this week, for example, the SPD blocked a plan that would have changed the constitution so that the autobahns could be privatized. It’s not enough but it’s what we’ve got. This is life, you can never escape the keen edge of disappointment.