The Alternative for Germany, or AfD, a populist-minded political group, is currently polling high above the pack in parliamentary elections — a sign of sorts that the same type of President Donald Trump fever that swept through America in November is hitting hard in overseas’ spots as well.
The AfD rose to prominence a couple years ago, when the migrant crisis was rising to the top of citizens’ minds. And now?
The party’s candidates are far above the five percent margin needed to win Parliement seats. They currently stand between seven and 10 percent, in fact.
From the Express:
Back then [in 2015] the party commanded a considerably larger share of the opinion polls with about 15 per cent, but has gradually fallen back as the populist movement which threatened to overwhelm Europe subsided.
Nevertheless AfD remains on course for an historic victory next month, a prospect that will set alarm bells ringing across much of Europe, Politico reported.
The idea that a far-right party could win seats in the Bundestag while blaming a specific ethnic group for the nation’s troubles was, until very recently, unthinkable.
But the decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel to welcome almost a million migrants and refugees into Germany since 2015 has divided the nation, and stirred a sense of anger and resentment not seen in Germany for many years.
While the AfD was founded in 2013 as a eurosceptic party, it found purchase as an anti-immigrant movement opposed to the perceived “Islamification’ of Germany.
The mass sex assaults in Cologne on New Years Eve in 2016 helped boost anti-migrant sentiment and position the AfD as a seemingly legitimate political alternative, a feeling that was reflected across the much continent.
It led to the likes of Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen emerging as surprisingly popular election candidates in the respective Dutch and French elections, although both were soundly beaten by more moderate opposition.
But while those results were viewed as the breaking of the populist wave, the AfD has managed to cling onto relevance in Germany.
And the party has done so despite repeated comparisons to the Nazis, an accusation some of its leading election candidates have done little to challenge.
Last week AfD co-founder Alexander Gauland was sued for inciting racial hatred after calling for Aydan Özoğuz, the government’s commissioner for integration, to be “disposed of in Anatolia”. Ms Ozoguz comes from a Turkish background.
Both Ms Merkel and her Social Democrat rival Martin Schulz branded the comments “racist”.
Mr Schulz said: “We must do everything to ensure that such racists don’t enter the Bundestag!”
Anti-immigration campaigners from the AfD have been protesting against Ms Merkel since she hit the campaign trail in early August.
This week she was heckled by AfD supporters as she attempted to deliver an election campaign speech in Brandenburg City.