It appears that the people of the German Province of Pomerania have revolted by voting for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, leaving the Christian Democrats in third place in last Sunday’s state legislature election. The outcome of those elections, in fact, prompted some to hasten to see it as the beginning of the end for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political career.
The fact is that the Pomeranians carry special weight in the local German political scene and their behavior in Sunday’s elections is being attributed to Merkel’s migration policy, despite the fact that this state has taken in only a small number of refugees and migrants, people who as soon as they acquire their German residence permits, tend to move on to other parts of the country.
Sure, these are issues that have to do with Germany’s inner workings but the problem is that blips on a local level indicate the kind of policy whose consequences can spread across Europe. It is, for example, how, by pure coincidence, Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere raised the issue of redirecting refugees to Greece, citing the Dublin Regulation.
This agreement was signed in 2003 and had the support of Greece. However, things have changed a lot since then and especially after Merkel in 2015 announced an open-door migration policy and invited more than 1 million refugees and migrants into Germany, prompting a huge increase in inflows to Europe.
Without doubt, Greece bears a big share of the responsibility for the present mess and particularly the current government, which has proved incapable of getting a grip on the situation. However, this does not mean that it, or any other country on Europe’s outer borders, can employ the same strategy as Germany – particularly since Germany acted without consulting with its European partners, in its quest for cheap labor to boost its production machine.
There has been a lot of talk in the wake of the Pomeranian elections about a resurgence of the far-right and xenophobia, but the fact is that this phenomenon started to grow with the first signs that the European system as a whole was struggling. Now, the virus that first appeared in Europe’s south, is hitting Germany, where the Pomeranian election result will influence overall behavior in Germany and the syndrome of nationalism will be strengthened by the selective application of European regulations.
In this regard, the United Kingdom should be happy about its decision to disengage itself from this sui generis system, but this does not mean that it is any example that needs to be followed by Greece.