Is Chancellor Angela Merkel a lame duck? In an exclusive interview MEP David McAllister tells DW that the far right Alternative for Germany (AfD) challenges the entire German political system.
With populism on the rise, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, German MEP David McAllister talks migrants, political stability in Germany and EU relations with Africa in an exclusive interview with DW’s Conflict Zone.
"We have gone through some turbulent weeks and months in Germany," McAllister said referring to the strains in Angela Merkel’s coalition government between CDU/CSU and SPD. McAllister downplayed the recent defeat of a key ally of Merkel in the German Bundestag and said right now the focus was on upcoming regional elections in Bavaria and Hessen in the interview with Tim Sebastian.
McAllister, who has been a member of Christian Democrats his entire adult life, said he would again support Angela Merkel in her expected party leadership bid, but he did not rebut suggestions she was a lame duck as chancellor .
McAllister downplayed negative poll numbers for his party and Merkel, "ups and downs in politics are nothing very special."
Rise of the AfD
When Sebastian asked him about the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) the former state premier of Lower Saxony said "politics is more than just giving simple answers."
"These people in the AfD are giving very, very simple, I would say simplistic answers to very complex questions."When asked about the estimated one million voters the Christian Democrats had lost to the far right party, McAllister said "the AfD is a challenge for the whole political system in Germany, not only for my party." Since Merkel began her fourth term as chancellor earlier this year,the AfD has led the opposition in the Bundestag. "What the AfD leadership is doing [is] they're pushing the boundaries week by week."
McAllister said that while the recent rise in AfD polls numbers was worrying, it still meant that 85% of Germans were against the far right. "We will not accept right wing populism, nationalism, and racism in Germany," McAllister said.
Fear of Islam
But recent polls show the anti-immigrant party rhetoric is striking a chord among more Germans. McAllister appealed for an integrative society, "the huge majority of Muslims living in Germany are playing according to the rules, are following the law. We have to make clear that those who are not following our rules and our laws will have to be taken to court like any other German citizens."
"Millions of Muslim citizens have come from other parts of the world to Germany … this country is also their country," said the German MEP. McAllister said the number of refugees coming to Europe was dramatically down since 2015 but still added the migrant crisis is “the largest challenge for us in the European Union… which will stay for years and even decades."
"We have taken hundreds of thousands, millions, of refugees and we will continue to show our humanitarian responsibility. But one thing is clear: not everyone from Africa can come to Europe."
The chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee said "we have to fight the root causes of migration, especially in Africa."
Despite a lack of good governance and corruption in some partner countries, McAllister said the EU had no choice but to work with local partners, “we have to deal with those governments which are in power."
Citing his own visits as an MEP to Africa he called for a debate between Europe and Africa as peers.
"The future of Europe is very closely linked to the future of our neighboring continent Africa."
When Sebastian asked McAllister about continuing European aid for corrupt African leaders, the chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee explained, "we have an approach: more for more and less for less. Those countries who follow our way forward towards human rights, the rule of law, and democracy will get more support than others," adding "the European Union is by large and by far the biggest donor of development aid in the world." When challenged on a lack of transparency in how MEPs reported their spending and a recent European court ruling which said MEPs’ privacy had to be protected (LINK), McAllister said, "Personally I wouldn't have any problem if the rules were changed on this issue but in the moment, this is the situation."