Nationalist Gains in German Election a Defeat for German Elites -Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser

By William Boston Features Dow Jones Newswires

The chief executive of Siemens AG, one of Germany's largest corporations, said German elites had "again stood by and watched" as a nationalist party rose from the fringes of society to become a powerful force in German parliament.

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Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser called on Chancellor Angela Merkel and the next government to "boldly and ambitiously address" key challenges including "investing in the digital world and making greater investments in education, in work-based training programs, and--above all--in the further and continuing education of today's workforce."

The anti-immigration Alternative for Deutschland won 13% of the vote on Sunday as voters angry over Ms. Merkel's refugee policies abandoned the mainstream parties.

Mr. Kaeser's full statement was: "I wish German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and her new cabinet a steady hand in their work on behalf of our country for the next four years. Although it's not yet clear what exactly the next coalition government will look like, one thing is clear: for it to succeed, it will be crucial for the new government to boldly and ambitiously address the imminent changes, which I'd like to group together under the term societal transformation. Tackling these issues includes investing in the digital world and making greater investments in education, in work-based training programs, and--above all--in the further and continuing education of today's workforce. We are an industrialized country and must shape the fourth industrial revolution, and we must do this in a way that is inclusive for our entire society--in other words, in a way that allows all people to profit from it to the greatest possible extent. We might call this a combination of "Industrie 4.0" with "Social Market Economy 2.0."

"Burgeoning populism and short-term thinking coupled with global migration and climate change are not making the world a simpler place. However, I have positive expectations because we have a very experienced and wise chancellor who knows how to represent the interests of Germany and Europe on the international stage and enjoys the highest levels of respect around the world.

"Nevertheless, the AfD--a nationalist and populist party--has managed to enter parliament with a strong surge. This political victory is also a defeat for Germany's elites. We have dismissed the AfD's voters as people on the fringes of society. We have again stood by and watched this happen, and that has to change. Each of us must see it as our responsibility to integrate people who feel disadvantaged and to help them find new perspectives."

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Write to William Boston at william.boston@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 25, 2017 10:49 ET (14:49 GMT)