Today we see the end of the West German Dream, of an egalitarian “social market economy” with “prosperity for all,” added to the death of the East German Dream of a socialist society leaving capitalism’s insecurities, crises, and class divisions behind.
When Angela Merkel became chancellor in 2005, the two big “Volksparteien” (the mass “catch-all” parties, the Christian Democratic CDU/CSU and the Social Democratic SPD), together still commanded 69.4 percent of the vote. Yet during her chancellorship, these parties have been forced to govern together in three ever-shrinking grand coalitions. Today, a year after federal elections saw a far-right party enter parliament for the first time since 1952, these two forces no longer represent a majority of Germans. The polls give them a combined tally of just 42 percent.