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Seven quotes that perfectly sum up the German election

The 2017 German election was historic in more ways than one. From the rise of the far-right to the need for a three-way coalition, it brought significant change to German politics. These quotes sum it up best.

Seven quotes that perfectly sum up the German election
"I’m pretty sure that we will have a last minute swing." Martin Schulz. Photo: DPA

1. “Anger is a creature that grows the more it is attacked”

Jung von Matt, the man responsible for campaign advertizing for Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) made this rather prescient observation about how resentment grew against the mainstream parties as they and the mainstream media repeatedly condemned the tone of the anger.

2. “Whistles and heckling certainly won't do anything to shape the future of Germany”

The 2017 election has been dubbed by certain sections of the press the Wutwahl (election of rage) after Merkel was hounded on the campaign trail by angry AfD voters who tried to disrupt her speeches.

She responded at one speech by telling them “whistles and heckling certainly won't do anything to shape the future of Germany.”

Needless to say, they didn't listen. Although now that the AfD are the third largest party in the Bundestag, they might also argue that heckling can get you further than anyone expected. 

3. “We have the right to be proud of our soldier’s achievements in two world wars”

Photo: DPA

The aggressive right-wing campaign of the AfD was led by their 76-year-old Spitzenkandidat Alexander Gauland. On several occasions he made his small party the focus of national debate with outrageous comments.

As well as saying that a political opponent should be “dumped” in Turkey, he told supporters that, if France can be proud of Napoleon and Britain can be proud of Churchill, Germany also has the right to be proud of what its soldiers did in two world wars. It is perhaps the most controversial thing to yet be said by an AfD politician in public, but it didn't harm their polling figures.

4. “I’m pretty sure that we will have a last minute swing”

Martin Schulz, the leader of the Social Democrats, managed to stay positive to the end, claiming days before the election that his party would benefit from “a last minute swing.” Instead their popularity dropped even further than their already miserable polling numbers, and they slumped to the worst result in their history.

5. “The Greens won’t enter any coalition that doesn’t initiate the end of the combustion engine”

Green party leader Cem Özdemir made this comment during campaigning. Now negotiating to enter the government for only the second time ever, the Greens plan to put environmental protection firmly at the centre of the new government's policy. First on the list will be pressuring Germany's car industry to ditch diesel engines.

Cem Özdemir. Photo: DPA

6. “A witch hunt has been started against diesel and the whole car industry”

Free Democrats (FDP) leader Christian Linder had this to say in August about how environmentalists had been attacking the diesel engine in the wake of Volkswagen's dieselgate scandal.

Lindner claims that current attempts to reduce pollution in German cities are based on emotion, not rational argument. He wants to see more support for the car industry.

Oh, and he also has to come to terms with the Greens on a “coalition agreement” before a new government can be formed.

7. “When I’m on the street, I can’t tell if someone is a German citizen just by looking at them”

Angela Merkel said this to AfD chairman Jörg Meuthen during a round-table between party leaders live on television hours after the results came in.

Meuthen had at first tried to claim that the AfD's understanding of being German included migrants from all types of backgrounds. But the facade slipped minutes later when he complained about visiting inner cities and barely seeing any Germans.

Merkel's response was to ask how he knew whether someone was German just by looking at them.

POLITICS

‘Russia must not win this war,’ says Germany’s Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged once again to stand with Ukraine against Russia - but said Ukraine's bid to join the EU cannot be sped up.

'Russia must not win this war,' says Germany's Scholz

Scholz said the war in Ukraine was the greatest crisis facing the EU in its history, but that solidarity was strong. 

“We are all united by one goal: Russia must not win this war, Ukraine must prevail,” Scholz said in the speech to the Bundestag on Thursday.

Putin thinks he can use bombs to dictate the terms for peace, the SPD politician said. 

“He’s wrong. He was wrong in judging the unity of Ukrainians, and the determination of our alliances. Russia will not dictate peace because the Ukrainians won’t accept it and we won’t accept it.”

Scholz said it was only when Putin understands that he cannot break Ukraine’s defence capability that he would “be prepared to seriously negotiate peace”.

For this, he said, it is important to strengthen Ukraine’s defences. 

Scholz also pledged to help cut Europe free from its reliance on Russian energy. 

The Chancellor welcomed the accession of Finland and Sweden to Nato. “With you at our side, Nato, Europe will become stronger and safer,” he said.

However, Scholz dampened expectations for Ukraine’s quick accession to the EU.

“There are no shortcuts on the way to the EU,” Scholz said, adding that an exception for Ukraine would be unfair to the Western Balkan countries also seeking membership.

“The accession process is not a matter of a few months or years,” he said.

Scholz had in April called for Western Balkan countries’ efforts to join the EU to be accelerated amid a “new era” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Last October, EU leaders at a summit in Slovenia only reiterated their “commitment to the enlargement process” in a statement that disappointed the six candidates for EU membership — Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo – who had hoped for a concrete timetable.

“For years, they have been undertaking intensive reforms and preparing for accession,” Scholz said on Thursday.

“It is not only a question of our credibility that we keep our promises to them. Today more than ever, their integration is also in our strategic interest,” he said.

The chancellor said he would be attending the EU summit at the end of May “with the clear message that the Western Balkans belong in the European Union”.

Scholz also called for other ways to help Ukraine in the short term, saying the priority was to “concentrate on supporting Ukraine quickly and pragmatically”.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has also said it will take “decades” for a candidate like Ukraine to join the EU, and suggested building a broader political club beyond the bloc that could also include Britain.

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