A leading German economist stated that the government’s economic policies are as much to blame for the rise of Alternative for Germany as its migration policies.
Marcel Fratzscher, head of the German Institute for Economic Research, said that the economic policies of the grand coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and her Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel’s Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) are as much to blame as mass migration for the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
The economist, who is also an advisor to Sigmar Gabriel, said in an interview with Spiegel Online, “the entire federal government has really taken care of nothing more than questions of distribution in the past three years,” saying they were more interested in pleasing interest groups and distributing tax money than growing the economy.
“It was always a question of giving a particular client group something,” he told the magazine, and complained that this has directly led to voters turning to the AfD.
While Germany has one of the strongest economies in Europe, Mr Fratzscher said, “many people are precariously employed, can barely function on pensions, the wage gap is widening, [and] the government is investing too little in education and infrastructure.”
Comparing Germany to France, he stated that the French economy had grown a full three per cent more than Germany since 2000, while Spain had grown ten per cent more.
“Many people choose the AfD. They worry about their jobs, their wages, their benefits. They race to a party that pretends to be an anti-establishment party.”
“This is also a consequence of clientelism,” Mr Fratzscher replied when asked why so many low income earners have cast their ballot for the AfD rather than the traditional vote for the socialists. The socialists likewise saw their share of the vote see its largest decline since the end of the Second World War in local elections earlier in the year.
Criticising the idea of the “grand coalition” of the CDU and the SPD he said, “a grand coalition simply is not suitable for bold steps. Since 2003 we have had practically no major structural reform.”
Mr Fratzscher is a highly respected economist in Germany, and as well as being the head of the German Institute for Economic Research he is a professor of economics at Humboldt University in Berlin.
He is by no means the first economist to come out against the Merkel government and its economic policies. Economist Bernd Raffelhüschen has said that incoming migrants will only increase the tax burden for Germany in the future leading to higher unemployment and small incomes for working Germans.
Think tanks across Germany have noted that the economic ideas the government has put forward regarding the migrant crisis have been flat out wrong.
Also, Oxford academic Sir Paul Collier said that Merkel’s migrant economic policies were “morally reprehensible,” and stated that he had serious doubts migrants could contribute to the economy or integrate into German society.
Merkel is even said to be blocking a new bailout for Greece, which may destroy what is left of the Greek economy, because she fears such a move may give even more ammunition to the AfD, leading them to achieve electoral success in the German federal election next year.