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The right and some wrongs take centre stage

Opinion Piece

The focus on the election and the continuing speculation over who will win Winston Peters’ nod to form the next government should not overshadow the fact a lot else is going on in the world.

The Germans have just held another MMP election and over the years have shown New Zealand how the system can be made to work. The result was not so encouraging this time, however.

While Angela Merkel (seen by some as the true leader of the Western World these days) has won a fourth term, there was an alarming rise in support for the far-right AfD, which won 13 percent of the vote. It has made it difficult for Merkel to form a government and brings back memories of Germany’s history from last century, which is probably unfair. Germany is now the powerhouse of the European economy with a strong democratic tradition.

With its “bikinis not burkas” advertisements, the AfD took advantage of Merkel’s decision to allow some 900,000 refugees to enter Germany. Hopefully the situation will ease with time.

Meanwhile the North Korean and US leaders continued their war of words, with the hermit kingdom’s foreign minister Ri Yong-Ho saying Donald Trump’s latest Twitter blast is a declaration of war — giving it the right to shoot down US planes.

The rest of the world remains hopeful it will stay just a war of words. Fingers crossed.

At home Trump launched into a confrontation with the NFL (American Football) over black players who chose to kneel during the national anthem, to protest against police brutality and racism. The few players doing so were joined at the weekend by 200 more plus coaches and owners showing support by kneeling or linking arms, and speaking out. Stars of other codes have spoken out too.

It was nice then to have a love story and an emancipation story as contrasts. Prince Harry chose the Invictus Games for disabled service personnel for his first public appearance with girlfriend Meghan Markle. And Saudi Arabia announced that women in the repressive kingdom would be able to drive cars from next June (it is the last country in the world to have such a restriction). Bright notes for a dour week.