Bavaria's Deplorable Elections and Merkel's Triumph

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and China's Premier Li Keqiang in conversation during the signing of several contracts during the 5th German-Chinese government consultations at the Federal Chancellery. (Wolfgang Kumm/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

German populism goes pop in Bavaria: After staging a high-profile fight over immigration against Chancellor Merkel, the Bavarian Christian Social Union got crushed in Sunday’s state elections. It got 37% of the vote, the lowest in its history. The biggest winner wasn’t the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), the right-wing populist party, but the ultra-left Greens, who won 17% of the vote vs. 10% for AfD. The Greens are now the second biggest party, surpassing the Social Democrats. The Greens are also the most pro-immigration party in Germany. There’s plenty of hand-wringing about the collapse of the political center, but the carnage leaves Merkel without a serious challenger anywhere in the political spectrum.

Remember, folks, you read it here first. I offered “a deplorable vote for Angela Merkel” more than a year ago.” That didn’t make me any friends in Washington or Berlin. In fact, one of Germany’s top news magazines interviewed me early in 2017 about President Trump. That didn’t go down too well, and the magazine suspended the reporter. I visited Berlin a few months later. No-one in Merkel’s government would take a meeting with me. I guess they didn’t like all the things I had written about Merkel’s immigration policy as a mode of national suicide.

Just because we don’t like national suicide, we assume that other people don’t like it. The triumph of the Green Party in the Bavarian elections suggests that suicide is a popular option in Germany. Reading European politics through an American lens will lead to absurd conclusions every time. I love Steve Bannon, but disagree with him about the prospects for populism in Western Europe (Eastern Europe is another matter).

I wrote the book on national suicide — “How Civilizations Die” (Regnery 2011). It’s like the old joke about why Jewish men die before their wives: They want to. Civilizations choose to die when they realize that they have passed their used-by dates. Our European cousins are resigned to their demise, like the Norse gods in Valhalla at the end of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, waiting for the end. We can’t change their minds about this. The best we can do is to manage the consequences of their decline in a way that harms us the least.