This must be the summer of Hell for German chancellor Angela Merkel. First, her party lost control of NRW, the most populous state in the Federal Republic. Then one by one key leaders in her party such as Roland Koch in Hesse and Ole von Beust in Hamburg have stepped down from their positions and left her isolated in Berlin, just as her poll numbers have sunk to historic lows. To make matters worse, many conservative voters have become disenchanted with the Christian Democrats (CDU), believing the party to be too centrist, or even too leftist, for their liking. A new poll shows that 20% of German voters would be open to supporting a new conservative party that would be to the right of the CDU (a civil party separate from the various extremist neo-Nazi parties such as the NPD or the DVU).
The poll results have given some hope for a German Tea Party movement ( eine deutsche Tea Party-Bewegung).
Denn im Prinzip braucht man keine Emnid-Umfrage um zu wissen, daß es rumort, daß die Union im Niedergang begriffen ist – führungsschwache Spitze, kein Profil, Mitglieder- und Wählerschwund – und die Zweifel an politisch-korrekten Aussagen wachsen, daß die Tabus im Hinblick auf die Zuwanderung fallen, daß viele, die zuletzt noch CDU/CSU oder FDP ihre Stimme gaben, unzufrieden sind mit Europa-, Wirtschafts- und Bildungspolitik der schwarz-gelben Koalition, ohne deshalb doch nach links zu gehen.
(For in principle one doesn't need to read the poll results to know that the CDU is in decline - lack of leadership at the top, no clear message, loss of members and voters - and the growing doubts concerning the politically correct response to issues such as immigration, so that many who last cast their vote for the CDU/CSU or the Liberals (FDP) are unhappy with Europe, the economic and education policies of the black-gold coalition but would not move to the left.)
The most recent dust-up involved a local CDU politician in Berlin - Rene Stadtkewitz - who got into trouble with the leadership of his party for inviting the Dutch anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders to participate in a conference on Islam in the German capital. After Stadtkewitz refused to dis-invite Wilders, the CDU leadership has threatened to toss him from the state assembly.
So could Stadtkewitz and other conservatives build an insurgent conservative party? A German Tea Party? Peter Nowak, writing in Telepolis, throws cold water on the idea with his piece Keine Tea-Party-Bewegung in Deutschland ("No Tea Party Movement in Germany"). Nowak surveys the likely leaders of such a movement and comes to the conclusion that they are hardly suited to lead a populist movement ("Das ist sicher nicht das Personal für eine neue rechte Tea-Party-Bewegung.") Politicians such as Stadtkewitz generate a lot of media attention for a while, but then tend to quickly flame out and disappear from the public eye:
Aber die Personalien Stadtkewitz, Nitzsche, Hohmann, Hähner machen auch deutlich, dass sie der Union von außerhalb keine Konkurrenz machen können. Sie sorgen für kurze Medienskandale, die Union kann sich von ihnen abgrenzen und damit deutlich machen, dass sie in der Moderne angekommen ist. Mit ihrer Trennung von Stadtkewitz demonstriert die Berliner Union nicht nur die offizielle Trennlinie nach Rechtsaußen, sondern signalisiert auch, dass sie auch weiterhin bündnisoffen bis hin zu den Grünen ist.
(But personalities such as Stadtkewitz, Nitzsche, Hohmann, Hähner also show that they cannot compete with the CDU from outside the party. They create short-term media scandals, but the CDU can distance itself from them and demonstrate that they are a modern party. By separating themselves from Stadtkewitz the Berlin CDU not only demarcated its boundaries on the right, but also signaled that it is open to alliances with others - even possibly with the Green Party.)
On the other hand, one of the surprising aspects of the American Tea Party is that it has grown without any clear leadership - it is a true, self-organizing grass-roots movement. It remains to be seen if it can sustain itself as an insurgent movement or whether it simply becomes the far right flank of the Republican Party.