Germany’s political landscape is changing, says former German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, with big-tent parties being challenged by newer, more radical parties like the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany. The refugee crisis, in his view, has fundamentally changed the way voters view Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, which was once known for promoting negative views of foreigners.
Mr. Schröder, since the end of your term in office, you have declined to give interviews right after elections. What’s different this time?
Mr. Schröder: The situation is different. Our party system is in turmoil. Europe faces serious challenges in the refugee issue. And my party, the SPD, could use some encouragement. So I thought to myself: This time you have to say something.
What was your first thought as the results for the three state elections came in on the evening of March 13?
I was prepared for the fact that the results would not be phenomenal for the SPD everywhere. That’s one reason I was so pleased about the success of Malu Dreyer, who was re-elected as state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate. So my first thought was: We managed to pull it off once again.