Over the past couple of years, Germans have been growing increasingly dissatisfied with the ruling Socialist-Green government led by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and its failed attempts at reform. One election debacle has followed the next for Schroeder, but most members of the media, particularly those on the left, have shied away from making the government's slow implosion into a burning issue. Now the troubling election results in two eastern German states, Brandenburg and Saxony, have made internal discontent an issue that simply no longer can be ignored. . . .
For starters, the big winner in the Saxony state election is Germany's neo-Fascist NPD, which made the largest gains of all parties to win representation in the state parliament with between 9 and 10% of the vote. The NPD's result puts it in a virtual dead-heat with Schroeder's SPD, which also finished with a projected 9 to 10% of the vote. The NPD has called for the restoration of German lands lost in World War II and has labeled the United States the "world's arsonist."
In Brandenburg state elections, another hard-right party, the DVU, also captured just enough of the vote to win representation in that state's parliament. . . . In both Saxony and Brandenburg, the Communist PDS, which formerly ruled East Germany as a member of the Warsaw Pact prior to 1990, made significant gains and increased its level of representation in both states' parliaments. In Brandenburg, the Communists scored an increase of at least 5 percentage points, upping their result from 23.3% to around 29%. In Saxony, the PDS gained a point in receiving 23% of the vote. In both states, the number of votes going to extremist parties on the right and left was alarmingly high, accounting for over one-third of all ballots cast.
The author concludes, "When Fascists and their sympathizers win a claim to power in two German state parliaments and Communists lay claim to so much of the total vote, it should certainly set off alarm bells anywhere that democracy is valued." He's right.