German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing heavy criticism for claiming the German people, or Volk, are comprised of anyone currently living in Germany regardless of their background.
The word “Volk”, or people, in German (pronounced “folk”), is a somewhat controversial term in Germany and like many German phrases has no exact English equivalent. Chancellor Merkel is now facing opposition from many, including within her own party, for claiming that anyone living in Germany is part of the Volk, which amounts to saying that all migrants are German by virtue of living in the country, Tag 24 reports.
Merkel made the comments in her home region of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania as she received the formal nomination from her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), to lead the party in this year’s federal election. 95 per cent of the roughly 140 delegates voted for Merkel who ran for the nomination unopposed.
“There is no justification that small groups of our society presume to define who the Volk are, the Volk is everyone who lives in this country,” Merkel said.
The comments made by Merkel were directed at the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, who last year was able to beat the CDU in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania in regional elections, humiliating the chancellor.
The AfD have attempted to rehabilitate the term Volk which has a long history in Germany but was heavily used in propaganda during the Nazi era, making the word somewhat taboo in politics. Party leader Frauke Petry said: “We should finally regain a relaxed, not uncritical, but normal way of dealing with our nation and terms such as ‘Volk’ and words that are derived from it.” She added that Germany should “work on giving the term a positive connotation”.
AfD MEP Beatrix von Storch took exception to the remarks made by the chancellor saying on Twitter the comments were unconstitutional and wrote: “Yes, this upsets us!”
https://t.co/sx2GvXTqUV AfD verteidigt unsere Verfassung.Merkel ist mit "Das Volk sind alle" verfassungsfeindlich.Und JA:das regt uns auf!
— Beatrix von Storch (@Beatrix_vStorch) February 26, 2017
Storch backed up her claim the remarks were unconstitutional saying that under article 20 of the German constitution all power comes from the people and the chancellor’s oath of office is based on it. She slammed Merkel for being “arbitrary” about who is and who isn’t German.
Alle Staatsgewalt geht vom Volke aus. Sie hat ihren Amtseid auf das deutsche Volk geschworen. Doch sie definiert den Begriff willkürlich um. pic.twitter.com/l7AG0CQoF7
— Beatrix von Storch (@Beatrix_vStorch) February 25, 2017
Merkel’s CDU is currently facing an even larger challenge than the AfD in the form of a reinvigorated Social Democrat party (SPD) under their new leader and former European Parliament President Martin Schulz. Recent polls show the SPD beating Merkel’s CDU for the first time in years and opening up the real possibility of a left wing coalition government in the Autumn.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org