Two elections this week will impact politics.
One election took place Sunday in Germany. Results indicate Angela Merkel will continue as German Chancellor. However, she will have a reduced majority.
In Alabama, Tuesday’s Senate primary runoff election will decide the Republican candidate for Senate. Whoever wins the election will likely be the next Republican Senator.
Alabama’s Senator will have state and national impact. Germany’s election will have national and global impact.
Elections in Germany: Mommy Knows Best
Angela Merkel is today one of the longest-serving democratic leaders. After coming to power in 2005, she has led Germany through several crises. I
In fact, Merkel is known as “Mutti” or Mummy for her calm competence.
As millions of mostly Muslim refugees came to Germany over the last couple of years, Merkel’s political future seemed in doubt. Fear-mongers convinced Germans that there were far more Muslims among Germans than in reality.
Still, Germany did take in an astonishing amount of refugees – at least among Western industrialized nations. Merkel educated Germans about refugee realities. Under her leadership, Germany encouraged integration policies.
As elections approached, Merkel did take a harder line. She did it without demonizing differences. However, her actions inoculated her against the German extreme-right.
Fortunately, Germans opted to stay with stability and rejected blatant xenophobia in the elections. We would be lucky to see the same level-headedness in Alabama.
Elections in Alabama: Trumpeting Loyalty
Alabama’s Senate elections will replace former Senator Jeff Sessions. Republican incumbent Luther Strange, appointed temporarily as a replacement, is facing Republican rebel Roy Moore.
Strangely enough, the two candidates are competing on loyalty to Trump versus Trumpism.
Luther Strange has taken pains to point out how friendly he is with Donald Trump. Backed by mainstream Republicans, Strange has also managed to get Trump’s endorsement. He was even able to get Trump to make a speech in Alabama backing him, half-hearted though it was.
Moore is apparently leading substantially in the polls. Since Trump’s biggest electoral margin in 2016 was in Alabama, it will be interesting to see if personality or ideology wins.
Elections Have Consequences
If Moore wins, there will be state and national echoes. Democrats can only hope that their traditional supporters will mobilize, and Republicans will desert Moore in droves.
Nationally, a Senator Moore will pose headaches for the Senate GOP. Judging by his beliefs, he will join some of the more extreme right-wing Senators.
Far more globally consequential will be Germany’s Merkel. Her victory, though tainted by increased far-right gains, will see her increasingly looked on as a solid counterpoint to Trump.
Merkel’s restrained approach to refugees will contrast with Trump’s various immigration cuts and bans. As an important EU leader, she will hopefully be able to muster a global coalition in favor of the Iran deal.
Purists may pretend elections are meaningless. But in democracies, they do have consequences.