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“Islamism, Europe and Elections”
September 12th, 2016

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The defeat of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in her home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is a warning sign for the ruling party in Germany and proves that the United States may not be the only country where a political drama will be unfolding over the next few months.

The potential for political transition exists mainly in Germany and in France, but Britain beat them to the punch with the Brexit vote in favor of separating from the European Union. 

Each one of the political storms now waging, and those expected to begin shortly, occur due to specific reasons, but behind all of them is, in one form or another, concern about Islamism and its implications -- whether in terms of terrorism or in terms of destroying the cultural fabric and upsetting the demographic balance.

Popular Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung published a detailed article about the incremental strategy used by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi movements in their efforts to take over the world: a small concession here, a small concession there, apparent setbacks on unimportant issues like dress or education, promoting Sharia law, etc. 

All this on the pretense of equality and human rights -- until the walls of Western democratic society are completely breached in a decisive attack. The article's author is not a character like French writer Michel Houellebecq, who describes the Islamist victory over France as a near foregone conclusion, but rather a respected professor of political science and Middle Eastern history at the University of Zurich.

While Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump leverages the Islamist threat, in Merkel's Germany, it is already a reality. In a country that absorbed about a million immigrants, the vast majority of them Muslims, and which will take in a further 300,000 before year's end -- all this on top of the near 3 million Turkish immigrants already living there -- the Islamist issue has become a political and electoral time bomb. 

Merkel herself stands at the flashpoint, as her opponents, and even some of her supporters, blame her -- as Vice Chancellor and Social Democratic Party Chairman Sigmar Gabriel has expressed -- for miscalculating the challenges facing her liberal immigration policy. 

Gabriel is calling to limit immigration to Germany, and even Merkel, though she opposes this step, has recently called on Germany's Muslim residents to demonstrate greater loyalty to the country's social and democratic values.

As a result of this situation, alongside the growing power of figures among the extreme Right -- some of them bearing fascist overtones -- we are hearing calls to replace the leadership in the elections this coming year. It is not likely to happen, but nonetheless, Germany's political stability has been badly cracked.

In France too, even more so than in Germany, Islamism is set to play a central role in the upcoming presidential election, and even in the earlier race for centre-right candidacy, which has become a close battle between former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his rival, Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppe. 

In the previous election, leftist French President Francois Hollande defeated Sarkozy thanks to the Muslim vote, and it seems now that Juppe has chosen to follow in his footsteps. Instead of focusing his campaign on the war on terrorism, as Sarkozy did, he is calling on France to embrace its Muslim citizens.

For Israel, it doesn't make much of a difference who ultimately ends up in Elysee Palace. All the candidates admit that Israel is an important friend to France -- though so are the Palestinians -- but the deciding factor is the traditional stance of the French Foreign Ministry since the Venice Declaration in 1980 that sought to include the PLO in any negotiations on the Palestinian issue, and its position taken in 1967, siding with the Arabs and Russia on U.N. Security Council Resolution 242.

While France is not currently a major player in the Middle Eastern arena, despite its best efforts, what happens there now may determine its character more than some failed attempt at foreign policy. In any event, the developments in France, in Germany and in other places testify to the fact that Islamism will play an increasingly larger role in the politics of the free world.

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