The Collapse of German Centrism

Rhetorical Concessions Alone Won’t Swamp the Populists’ Momentum

Kevin Voigt / Xinhua / eyevine/ R​edux

In the late summer of 2015, when it seemed that the flow of refugees into Europe might never abate, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a press conference. She’d just visited a refugee center near Dresden when she uttered what she surely thought was a throwaway line. “Wir schaffen das,” she said, or “We’ll manage this.” In its banality, the phrase seemed equally far removed from Barack Obama’s “Change We Can Believe In” and Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again.” Whereas politicians in the United States traffic in the aspirational language of marketing, political debates in Germany are couched …