European Parliament President Martin Schulz is quitting his job in Strasbourg and aiming for higher office in Berlin. Schulz, who, in 2003, was likened by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to a Nazi concentration camp guard, appears ready to take the helm of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in a gambit to prevent Germany from joining the ranks of the anti-European Union nations in Europe.
Schulz, sensing that Angela Merkel, Germany’s Europhile Christian Democratic Union (CDU) chancellor, is in political trouble even as she announced plans to run for a fourth term in 2017, is striving to eventually take over the reins of the SPD from Merkel’s coalition partner Sigmar Gabriel.
For the time being, Schulz will be happy to assume control of the Foreign Minister portfolio from the SPD’s Walter Steinmeier, who opted to become Germany’s ceremonial president.
Schulz returns to Berlin as a politically-wounded politician. The EU Parliament was about to reject Schulz for a third term as president. The European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, the often-inebriated champion of a federalized Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, threatened to resign his own post if Schulz was rejected by the Strasbourg assembly.
Schulz, sensing defeat, opted to continue the fight for a united Europe as a member of the German Bundestag and a member of Merkel’s «grand coalition» between the CDU and SPD.
However, the lukewarm-at-best coalition supporter of Merkel, Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, may harbor plans to challenge Merkel for chancellor. Seehofer is a fierce critic of Merkel’s migrant policy that opened Germany’s borders to over a million mainly Muslim refugees from war zones in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa.
Merkel, Schulz, and Gabriel continue to support the open-door migration policy even as German voters. Seehofer has crafted an anti-migration alliance with leaders of neighboring Alpine countries, particularly Austria.
Austrian Freedom Party (OVP) presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, who is opposed to the EU and Merkel’s migrant policy, recently expressed his own views of Merkel during a presidential election debate with his pro-EU Green Party opponent. Hofer said Merkel «inflicted considerable damage on Europe when she opened the borders to refugees and, as a result, hundreds of thousands of refugees, including terrorists, have moved through Austria».
Seehofer has more in common with the Austrian Freedom Party of Hofer and its leader Heinz-Christian Strache than his supposed political ally Merkel. The only thing that continues to bind the anti-migrant Seehofer to the open borders champion Merkel is the rise of Germany’s nationalistic counterpart to the OVP, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
The anti-migrant AfD has eaten away at CDU-CSU support across Germany, with Bavaria being a notable exception. The AfD has won seats in ten state assemblies and risen to 15 percent support in political opinion polls.
This «marriage of convenience» between Seehofer and Merkel may be coming to an end as the Bavarian Prime Minister sees an opportunity to challenge Merkel for leadership of the CDU-CSU union and lead an anti-migrant conservative coalition to challenge the Euro-fanatic Schulz on the national stage.
Relations between the CDU and CSU «allies» have not been this fractured since 1976 when CSU leader Franz-Josef Strauss severed the Bavarian party’s alliance with Helmut Kohl’s CDU. Seehofer understands that he has more political strength than Merkel because opinion polls of AfD supporters indicate that the Bavarian leader is more popular than the AfD’s own leader, Frauke Petry.
Seehofer’s CSU has, therefore, adopted the tough migration policy of the AfD to woo AfD supporters. Seehofer’s rhetoric on migrants matches up with that of the AfD. In January 2016, Seehofer told his CSU party congress that up to three million migrants in Germany would create a «different country», adding, «the people don’t want Germany, or Bavaria, to become a different country».
With the anti-migrant CSU and AfD at his back, Seehofer is in a commanding position to oust Merkel from the leadership of the CDU-CSU union.
Not only has Seehofer cobbled together a working alliance with the Austrian Freedom Party but he has also united with Hungary’s anti-migrant Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Seehofer flew to Budapest last March to back Orban’s opposition to an EU plan, pushed by Juncker, Schulz, and Merkel, to redistribute migrants throughout the 28-member states of the EU, plus four members of the European Free Trade Association/Schengen Agreement (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland), based on a quota system. Seehofer also has close ties with the anti-EU and anti-migrant Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which soared to 29.5 percent in 2015 elections to the lower house of the Swiss Parliament.
Seehofer has also reached out to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who called Merkel’s migrant policy a «disaster» that only served to boost crime rates in Germany. Seehofer has invited Trump to Bavaria holding out the possibility that Trump’s first foreign trip as president could be to the Munich Security Conference in February 2017.
What worries the globalists, Atlanticists, and NATO boosters the most is a Europe dominated by nationalist leaders in Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, and other countries who will work with Trump in Washington and President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to disentangle Europe from the EU, open borders, NATO, and globalist policies.
When Seehofer visited Moscow this past year and met with Putin, the SPD was sharply critical of Seehofer’s parallel foreign policy. An SPD official thundered, «Foreign policy is made in Berlin, not in Munich».
The CSU and its leader Seehofer have rejected the premise that foreign policy is only conducted in Berlin and not in Munich. Bavaria, with a long history of independence from Berlin, has seen the dominant CSU establish close links with like-minded Alpine parties, including the SVP in Switzerland, OVP in Austria, and the small German irredentist South Tyrol People’s Party (SVP) in northern Italy.
Seehofer has brought tiny Liechtenstein into his Alpine alliance. On a 2015 trip to Munich to visit Seehofer, Liechtenstein Prime Minister Adrian Hasler stated, «We would like to continue to cultivate the very good climate with «free-standing Bavaria» in the positive sense. I am therefore delighted to see a continuation of the good relations between Bavaria and Liechtenstein.
Seehofer also has more in common with the anti-migrant Social Democratic president of Czechia, Milos Zeman, and his party’s Czech Communist partners, than he does with his own German SPD partners. Seehofer can also count on anti-migrant support from Czechia’s Visegrad Four (V4) partners of Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. Austria’s Hofer also sees common cause between Austria and the V4 on the issues of migrants and the EU.
Seehofer’s reaching out to Trump coincides with French National Front leader and 2017 presidential candidate Marine Le Pen calling Trump’s election as a «political revolution». Le Pen and other European nationalist leaders see the «revolution» as staring with the June 2016 Brexit surprise «yes» vote for the United Kingdom to leave the EU, followed by Trump’s upset victory in the American presidential election, and anticipation of a Le Pen victory in next year’s French presidential election.
Le Pen has promised to hold a «Frexit» referendum on continued French membership in the EU. With the Euro-Atlanticist dreams of the globalists being shattered daily, Seehofer obviously sees his chance to take the helm of Germany from an increasingly unpopular Merkel and steer Germany toward a «soft landing» in the wake of a dissolution of a strong EU.
Seehofer’s first task as leader of Germany would be to carefully scrap the euro and reintroduce the D-Mark in some form that could also be used by Austria, the Benelux countries, and eastern European states that choose to opt into a German-led common monetary system.
If Seehofer can take over the chancellorship of Germany from the discredited Merkel, there will be a final battle against globalization and the EU in the halls of power in Berlin. This battle will pit Seehofer and his anti-migrant and anti-EU allies against the forces led by the «concentration camp guard» Schulz.
That political struggle will determine not only the future of Europe but the entire world.
WAYNE MADSEN | SCF