At least nine people are dead after a tractor trailer plowed into the popular market on Monday evening, though that number is expected to rise. The incident is reminiscent of one that occurred in Nice, France, earlier this year, leaving 86 people dead. Early reports are often unreliable, but we’ve been told that one suspect is dead, that another is in custody, and that German police are investigating it as a terror attack.
Europe’s far right is on the rise. France, Germany, and the Netherlands will all have elections in the next year—France and the Netherlands in the spring and Germany in the fall—and their far-right parties are expecting gains at the polls. In France, it’s already likely that an anti-Islamic candidate will win the French presidency, either the formerly fringe hatemonger Marine Le Pen or the conservative Francois Fillon, who argues that the West is in the midst of a “clash of civilizations” with Islam.
Germany’s far right will also certainly use the attack to push its agenda and its political chances. Angela Merkel will face reelection next fall, and her government has been criticized for accepting Syrian refugees. Merkel has been edging to the right to try to prevent her opponents from capitalizing on anti-immigrant sentiment and fear of terrorism. She recently backed a burka ban, for instance, and has promised immigration reform. But she’s also increasingly isolated in a Europe where far-right parties are resurgent.