Why the G20 Violence is Good for Merkel
Germans watched in shock and horror at the end of last week as violent protests broke out during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Against the backdrop of burning barricades, looted shops, riot police and water cannons, the gathering of two dozen world leaders looked almost like a sideshow.
For Germans watching on television, the three nights of anarchy served as a dramatic reminder of the fragility of their country’s political and social stability. The political impact of the Hamburg riots has yet to fully unfold. But with national elections scheduled for September, it is already plentifully clear that the fallout will be severe.
Domestic security will now dominate the election campaign. Failures to protect the public and shortcomings in police capabilities have been regular subjects of controversy — most recently in the wake of a terror attack in Berlin and mass sexual assaults in Cologne.
The pre-election debate has so far revolved mostly around taxation, social benefits, public investment and same-sex marriage. But after the events in Hamburg, issues of domestic security have snapped back into focus. Very likely, they will be the ones that decide the election’s winners.
Perhaps ironically, given that it was Chancellor Angela Merkel who brought the summit to Hamburg, this dynamic will favor German conservatives. Citizens consistently rate Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), as most competent on questions of domestic security.