Monday, September 05, 2016

German Voters Sending a Warning to Europe About Trade

So will German leaders listen?

A surprising German poll showed Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) tied for second place with the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) just before this weekend's regional elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The incumbent Social Democrats are at 28 percent, the CDU and the AfD at 22. Do these numbers capture the real strength of the AfD? We'll see, but Germany is not the sort of place where one brags to strangers about casting a ballot for the most right-wing party in the country. (This, by the way, is the most mainstream of mainstream pollsters: Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, working for the TV network ZDF.)

It is a warning. In about 12 months, France and Germany will have national elections. Top politicians face the equivalent of a Brexit /Trump/Sanders vote. Maybe that is why they have just killed a planned American-European trade pact. They will now inter the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement. (The pact is called TTIP where associations with NAFTA are toxic and TAFTA where tip is the preferred word for dumpster.)

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