For a very long time, Angela Merkel successfully appealed to the post-war German longing for consensus. She hugged potential rivals in her motherly embrace. The rise of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) makes this much more difficult. As its name suggests, it really does offer something different. Given its pariah status, people assumed that parties would happily coalesce against it after its electoral breakthrough. But in fact its presence opens up two big discontents — mass immigration and energy prices — forcing other parties to consider their positions. Immigration gets most of the headlines here, but the energy issue is almost equally problematic.
Germany’s consumers have to pay huge bills because of their government’s determination to go green. The country’s carbon emissions are ordered to fall by 40 per cent from their 1990 level by 2020 — Mrs Merkel’s target being twice as exacting as that of the EU. This is unachievable, but even the process of failing to achieve it is shockingly expensive, and lays the country open to massive dependence on Russian gas. The refusal to use Germany’s plentiful coal to give the country cheap energy is controversial, especially in the former East Germany, where AfD is strong. In the election campaign, the FDP (Liberal party) made strong noises against high energy prices. It dare not unsay them all now in order to enter coalition. In the current revolt against the elites in the West, few issues more divide the many from the few than energy prices and the bogus religion which is forcing them up. Strange that this issue should give the right its chance.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, which appears in this week’s magazine