‘Get lost!’: Germany’s ‘enraged’ hope to shout down Merkel
Ostseebad Binz, Germany - Chancellor Angela Merkel may appear to be cruising to a victory in next week’s elections, but her campaign rallies across Germany have been plagued by rowdy protesters who have been jeering, booing and even flinging tomatoes at her.
From the western university town of Heidelberg to the picturesque southern city of Rosenheim and the eastern heartland of Torgau, protesters bearing banners like ‘Get lost’ or ‘Merkel must go’ have sought to drown out the chancellor’s speeches.
The unruly protests have jolted awake a snoozy campaign and tarnished Merkel’s image of invincibility, even though her conservative alliance is commanding a strong double-digit lead in opinion polls.
They are also coming at a time when the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has been gaining in the polls in the final stretch before the September 24 vote.
All of which has sparked questions about the source of the pent-up anger, particularly since the explosively divisive issue of 2015’s mass refugee arrivals had seemingly faded as the influx eased last year.
‘The rage is not fuelled only by Merkel’s refugee policy, but also by powerlessness, from the feeling of not being taken seriously by ‘them up there’,’ the weekly magazine Spiegel said.
Timo Lochocki, a political analyst at the German Marshall Fund, said the anger had been ‘long in the making’ because the ruling coalition of Merkel’s ‘CDU and the Social Democratic Party do next to nothing to appease these voters’.