Germany Shaken by an Extremist Surprise

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(Bloomberg) --

The German establishment’s playbook for dealing with populism is simple: you ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

So when a state leader from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats threw in his lot with the far right this week, he met with opprobrium across the mainstream. Merkel called it “unforgivable.” Her coalition partner said a “taboo” had been broken.

That much is clear.

But Mike Mohring, the CDU chief in Thuringia, might legitimately ask what else he was supposed to do. He’s been fighting to keep the party relevant in the poorer east where many voters feel its center-right policies have failed them and resent the support Merkel has offered to a wave of refugees.

And he knows that the fundamental challenge isn’t the nationalist Alternative for Germany, or AfD’s local leader — a bona fide fascist according to a German court ruling — but that 260,000 voters decided to back him.

National party leader and Merkel heir Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer may never recover from the humiliation, and it may well push more angry easterners into the arms of the anti-immigrant AfD.

That would leave the CDU no closer to tackling the real issue — the shadow of fascism in Germany.

Germany Shaken by an Extremist Surprise

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Germany Shaken by an Extremist Surprise

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What to Watch

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Venezuela for talks with President Nicolas Maduro.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party is set for a tough fight in the Delhi state election tomorrow, in the first major test at the polls of his religion-based citizenship law that’s spurred nationwide protests.
  • The U.S. announced yesterday plans to start trade negotiations with Kenya in what could be the first such agreement with a sub-Saharan African nation.

Pop quiz, readers (no cheating!). What African country's Constitutional Court ordered fresh elections within five months after annulling the results of a presidential vote last year that the opposition said was rigged? Send us your answers and tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

And finally ... Months of protests in Hong Kong have brought a large number of women to the front lines, upending gender roles that saw them act more as cheerleaders during a previous pro-democracy movement in the financial hub. They’re not the only ones, as Shelly Banjo and Josie Wong found. Women — from Sudan to India — are bucking tradition and putting themselves at the forefront of a global wave of protests.

Germany Shaken by an Extremist Surprise

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