Next Sunday, there are elections to the state Parliament in
Schleswig-Holstein, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU is battling to
maintain power in the northern German state.
In the final stages of the election campaign, the CDU has targeted the South
Schleswig Electoral League (SSW), which has its constituency in the Danish
and Frisian minority in the state. The move is a legitimate one – the SSW is
aiming for cooperation with the Greens and Social Democrats, and the CDU has
every right to attack the party and its politicians.
But the tone of the campaign is distressing. Instead of attacking the party or
its policies, the CDU has acrimoniously warned against a “Danish coalition”.
It is deplorable that Germany’s large, governing centre-right party has now
embarked on a scare campaign, not against a party, but a nationality.
Unfortunately, the negative rhetoric doesn’t stop here. The local CDU has
repeatedly attacked minority rights for being exempt from the electoral
threshold, as well as the subsidies to Danish schools that are part of the
1955 Bonn Declaration that also provides special protection for the German
minority in Denmark’s Southern Jutland.
German media and politicians justifiably rebuked Denmark when the previous
Danish government decided to give in to demands from the Danish People’s
Party to close the gates at the Danish-German border.
German critics were right. The move ran contrary to the spirit of the common
Danish-German interpretation of the border area as an international model as
to how national minorities can both maintain their identities and
distinctive cultural character, as well as being valued and equal citizens
in another country.
It is now the turn of Merkel’s own party, whose sad campaign - not against the
SSW but rather ‘The Dane’ - who should take a look in the mirror and
consider whether its methods are truly compatible with the spirit of good
Hopefully we will never see a Danish party run its campaign against ‘Germans’
in Southern Jutland. Were that to happen, the reactions would be strident in
their condemnation. Such should be Merkel’s reaction to her own party.
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